The Second Amendment

The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution does NOT GIVE us the right to keep and bear arms, rather it Recognizes our pre-existing right to bear arms we enjoyed from the beginning of our nation until the Constitution was adopted in 1787. Right after the adoption, Congress heard from several states with concerns to restrict the central government. Specifically, the resolution was stated: “A number of states, at the time they voted for the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added.” In 1789 the Amendments were adopted as individual rights as the Bill of Rights.

Americans are among the very few citizens in the world today who may keep and bear arms. Many arms are used for hunting and a larger number are used for target use in many sports like trap and skeet, rifle and pistol matches, collecting and personal protection. All are proper uses of our guns. The Supreme Court in Heller has ruled the 2nd Amendment is an individual and personal right. Many anti-gun rights groups do not accept the decision and misread the wording of the 2nd.

The Bill of Rights are all Personal Recognized Rights; trial by jury, free speech, protections of search and seizure of our property, etc., are all individual rights. Some states realize this and now 21 states are Constitutional Carry (CC) of concealed weapons. That means there is no need to seek usually reluctant police permission to exercise your right to bear arms once you leave your home. Some other states like MA, NJ, CA, HI., and RI are very restrictive and honest citizens have many hurdles to obtain a permit. Meanwhile, any criminal who wishes to carry a gun do so even though they are prohibited by state and federal law. The 1938 Federal Firearms Act, Section 902, paragraph (f) says a felon in firearms possession is subject to 5 years in jail. That penalty is rarely implemented. Pennsylvania’s Legislature recently passed a Constitutional Carry Bill however, Governor Wolf was wrong to say CC was “too dangerous” for PA and vetoed it. In all other 21 states with CC the crime rate went down. The bad guys are still armed, but they are not sure of their intended victims in those CC states. In restricted permit states, most citizens are unarmed the crime rate continues to increase. What could be fairer?

We need to be proactive to ensure we can shoot traps or skeet, engage in rifle or pistol matches, reload ammunition, collect historic or interesting guns or protect our homes and loved ones while exercising our rights. We do that by being polite, discussing the topic logically and calmly at church coffee hour, in letters to the editor, or at family gatherings. Another great way to spread the word is to take a non-gun owner or anti-gunner “educated” by the medial to the range. Be safe, leave the politics out while on the range and let a novice shoot a .22 rifle.

When I lived in NH and was president of my gun club, I had an anti-gun rights priest in my church. One sunny Saturday in May, I took him to my nearby gun club. On the outdoor bench, I let him sit down, relax and fire my .22 rifle at small silhouette targets 25 yards away. We had 6 outdoor benches and no one else was at the club that day. An hour later, I was out of .22 ammo and the priest asked for another range session next week. He later bought his own gun and joined the club. Oh, yes, the sermons got better from then on and none were anti-gun. Amen.

Ron Benjamin
USP Firearms Chairman

Handgun License Reciprocity in the United States Today.

Many concealed carry license holders ask this proper question: “Is my permit valid all across the United States?” Actually, a Pennsylvania permit/license is valid in many states and not in others. This subject is often talked about online on hunting and gun owner sites. I would not rely on online legal advice because state laws change often and criminal charges and loss of the citizen’s handgun could result if the citizen assumes online advice was current and accurate
The United States Constitution clearly sets forth reciprocity in Article IV, Section 1. ” Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State.” So, when we drive from PA to Disneyworld in California, we do not need to stop in each state to obtain a new driver’s license for the state we are driving through. If we spend a night in a motel, we do not need to get a new marriage license for our spouse or a new dog license for our dog. That is because Article IV means what it says. Yes, up to the point where an honest citizen has passed the required hurdles to obtain a carry permit in his/her state of residence. Somehow the “Full Faith and Credit shall be given…” gets “qualified.” I never understood why and urge caution and proper inquiry for honest permit holders.

Pennsylvania has formal written reciprocity agreements with a number of states that recognize a valid license to carry firearms issued by Pennsylvania. This information changes regularly. For the latest information, as well as provisions specific to each state concerning locations that are off-limits to firearms, contact the Office of Attorney General at 717-787-3991. Print out the information and carry a copy with you.

Ron Benjamin
USP Firearms Chairman

All gun owners,

I just read in the newspaper that 12 to 20 million honest citizens bought guns in the last two years. That is great news for gun rights and a problem for the new gun owners. Many new gun owners are not hunters or members of gun clubs. They live in town and have no place to shoot their newly bought guns. We have a golden opportunity to take each, and every new gun owner to our gun clubs as guests and let them use their recently acquired firearms in a safe and secure setting. Let us each old gun owner share our safety and sighting skills with the newbies.

My gun club allows two guests per member on any range day. Two new gun owners are enough to supervise safely but are doable. Many new gun owners are not club members for many reasons. Some gun clubs have a waiting list for new members, other clubs have a large initiation fee to apply for membership which could take months to gain approval. New gun owners may not want to be gun club members, but just want to have an opportunity to shoot their newly acquired gun. As old club members, we need to get out the word we can assist by taking the new gun owner to our club as a guest and letting them shoot all they really want to experience. I put the word out to the nearby gun shops and have a steady group of new gun owners I take out to my club as my guests. Many later join the club. Others have experienced how their new gun works and are satisfied. At least they got to shoot their new gun. I suspect they will NOT vote to end their gun possession! Also, they are safer gun owners and understand the awesome responsibility that comes with gun ownership.

Take a new gun owner or just an interested neighbor to the range for a safe experience with guns. We need to help the new folks. We all began somewhere and the people we educate can better evaluate the media hype against gun ownership. Spread the Word, our 2nd Amendment depends on it. Many gun owners are not hunters, so keep the experience safe and fun for the new shooters. We need their support at the ballot box.

Ron Benjamin
USP Firearms Chairman