Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Why Guns Have No Place in Government Buildings

I cover meetings for a few municipalities. I see how nutty and angry some people can get over local issues, where emotions can fly high. I've seen Dan DePaul go after Ron Angle after a Northampton County Council meeting. I've seen two Executives, Glenn Reibman and John Stoffa, getting sheriff escorts. But these are meetings in courthouses, where guns are prohibited by state law.

What about municipal buildings?

Here's the problem. While the state legislature refuses to permit anyone with a gun inside their hallowed halls, it's open season everywhere else. Under the Uniform Firearms Act,
No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth.
In other words, municipalities are preempted by state law from enacting any ordinances to protect their own officials inside one of their own buildings.

I have argued that a municipality should have a right to regulate the use of their own property, but I'm not so sure whether that would hit the right note with the Supremes.  An Erie ordinance banning firearms in parks is under attack precisely because state law trumps local regulation, and is currently under review in the Supreme Court.

In most other places, local solicitors will advise that people have a right to come to a meeting armed.

And that's an invitation to disaster.

As most of you know, during a meeting in nearby Ross Township last night, a man in an 18-year dispute with Supervisors over his property, regarded as an eyesore, decided to shoot up the municipal building.Three people are dead. At least six others are injured.

I'm sure the gun nuts will claim the remedy is just to give people mmore guns.

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your buddy Angle tried to wear a gun to meetings back in the day. What about him?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Oh God, you are so kooky and full of hate it is pathetic. Three people are dead. Think about that for a moment and dri=op your ridiculous hatred for just a second if you can.

CSF member said...

The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun. If Mezz had been in attendance with her S&W there would have been less carnage.

Anonymous said...

Counter-intuitively, gun-free zones are the most dangerous places in our country. Gun-free zone laws don't seem to deter those who don't obey laws. That's why Virginia Tech now permits students to keep legal weapons. Thankfully, as an official on the scene was quoted as saying, an armed good guy prevented more deaths. Food for thought when considering the harassing actions of a well-known, well-armed, demonstrated law-breaker, Mezzacappa. Angle had the right idea.

Anonymous said...

No problem with Angle's past gun toting days. Amazing how O'Hare brings up the issue, states his case, then goes over the top when it is pointed out that one of his mancrushes supports or at least supported bringing a gun to a public meeting.

Go figure.

Anonymous said...

A drunk, despondent lonley , irritable and frustrated old man was drop kicked out of a west easton home 2 years ago.

Its owner, a republican NJ transpant, wants to lend her expertise of municipal finance/management to its .5 mile wide borough, who has taxed and spent most taxpayers out of town. Population 1000.

Drunk, depressed, angry and irritable old man hides behind "1st Amendment" and "public figure" to defend his fruitless and obvious whacko obsession. He refuses to take a hint (again) to move onward and upward, and instead turns his once informative political blog into "Mezzacappa today."

We have all learned over the last 2 years, the colors of her clothes, her shoes, her animal, where she hikes, where she shops, where she collects petition signatures, dates and times of every single trip she makes into any public building, whom she hangs out with, what type of gun she has, and her ammo presferences, among other things, including her RTK requests, her police reports, her profession, her employer, her massage business, her political preferences, her attending of fund raisers, etc..

Full of hate, libel, lies, stalking, twisting and fake facts, blog owner still does not get it, before (5 blogs) and after (1 blog) the same week he was brought into court for a PFA.

The system is clearly flawed, corrupt, top to bottom, with special protection for special people on the political stripper pole like Ingrassia, whose PFA garnered more attention than Mike Tyson/Robin Givens, but was far less necessary than the one heard by Zito this morning.

Boy, you really have a serious problem with rejection. No wonder she packs heat everywhere she is. You blog is a manifesto of cyberstalking, harassment and online impersonation.

Anonymous said...

@1:12AM "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun."

That dumbass argument has been totally blown out of the water in this shooting incident. The shooter was physically stopped by an UNARMED supervisor who tackled him and then shot him with his own gun.

Anonymous said...

Edgar, do tell....

Did Ross Twp have the same whacko policy of locking the building 24-7, no one gets in or out? 16 point surveilance cameras outside and in?

Armed officers at every meeting???

Is that why the shooter had to shoot his way in to the building? Let me guess, a small municipality provokes a taxpayer for sport 18 years straight, ruins his business and his property like many other pseudo Hitler faction extremist towns do on a regular basis.....

and has, no doubt, trampled his civil rights unpteen times. Sound like the guy had enough and snapped.

Now gun bans galore will follow, and Obama/Kerry/Pelosi will be discussing their next gun grab with the left wing media, over brunch on Tuesday morning.

Anonymous said...

News reports have the Ross shooter shooting through the windows at his victims. Anyway... tend to agree with Ohare on this one. These meetings are sometimes emotional train wrecks. Some Townships and their holier than thou residents use zoning laws to literally "wreck" other people's lives. This then leads to desperation as was the obvious case in the Ross incident. Thought and prayers to the people, municipal officials and affected families in Ross.

Anonymous said...

@315

You might want to look at the pictures of the property before you start spouting off. It was his eyesore and the township got involved because his neighbors complained. You are talking about a guy who liked to leave trash all around his property and not maintain it, not some libertarian Ayn Rand wet dream of going galt.

Anonymous said...

I see Mezzacappa was drunk commenting all night on this post. Strange, dangerous and obviously mentally impaired. Won't be the least bit surprised to see her in a headline related to gun play in the near future.

Anonymous said...

Gun free zones are very dangerous places because law breakers don't abide them. Just as abusers of the First Amendment are best battled with more speech, abusers of the Second are best battled with more weapons. Ron Angle understood and understands this.

Anonymous said...

So, let's debate all issues and, if it doesn't go our way, then let's have a shoot em up duel to decide. Brilliant exercise of both 1st and 2nd Amendment rights! I'm sure that's what the Founding Fathers intended, right?

Resident of Allentown said...

So if a law was in place not to bring a gun into the building it would have stopped this guy? Go figure. My flawed thinking was that there might be a few less dead if armed people were inside when, after shooting the place up from the OUTSIDE, he may have had not been able to just strut on in with his handgun unhindered and start blasting if there would have been an armed individual on the premises.

Anonymous said...

Bernie:

I think you're off base with this one. The guy shot the building up from the outside. He wasn't sitting in the attendance with guns and decided to start shooting. He drove up to the building looking to kill people.

That being said, I get that you don't like guns. However, isn't the bigger issue the mental health of folks and how we fix that big problem?

Dave Houser ..Bangor Boro council said...

I have asked our boro manager to contact our state rep's..Emrick and Boscola..and express our concerns about the incident in Ross township. We need the state to help provide protection from this type of gun violence at the local government level. We are defenseless at the moment. Time for equal protection under the law.

Anonymous said...

At times the emotions run hot in council meetings, particularly during Open Floor Speech periods.

A lot of questionable mental health problems show up to talk. How does a council allow free speech and still provide security?

At times police are asked to attend when known hot heads are going to attend. But, even some council members don't like police in the room?

Bernie O'Hare said...

The comments posted her by Mezzacappa provide ample evidences why local municipalities must be permitted to regulate gun use on their own property. West Easton is l=on lockdown bc of her. There is no doubt in my mind that she is completely capable of going off just as the nut in Ross Tp did. She has already threatened to kill its boro council president and we all know about her obsession with guns.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Did Ross Twp have the same whacko policy of locking the building 24-7, no one gets in or out? 16 point surveilance cameras outside and in?

Armed officers at every meeting???"


If it did, perhaps those people would be alive today. There is no telling what nuts like you are capable of doing.

Bernie O'Hare said...

" think you're off base with this one. The guy shot the building up from the outside. He wasn't sitting in the attendance with guns and decided to start shooting. He drove up to the building looking to kill people."

I am well aware that he started shooting outside and came there to kill. I am also aware he had an ongoing dispute and obviously knew they were all sitting ducks.It is a mental health issue, and municipalities need to have the freedom, on their own property, to prevent gun nuts like Kessler or Mezzacappa from coming inside armed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"At times the emotions run hot in council meetings, particularly during Open Floor Speech periods"

This is why local government should be able to ban weapons from their own buildings.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"So if a law was in place not to bring a gun into the building it would have stopped this guy?"

Yes. Not only should municipalities be able to regulate guns at meetings, it is unfortunately time for an armed officer at every meeting. I realize this has a chilling impact on free speech and do not like it, but it seems made entirely necessary by recent events.

Anonymous said...

Or they can have a police officer or security guard present to provide security without trampling on people's rights.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Municipalities need to have a police officer present and need to be able to regulate gun use inside their own buildings. They may have that right bc it is their own property, but the state law needs to be clarified. There is absolutely no reason to come to a meeting armed, except to menace others. The 1st amendment is the basis of all other rights., and no one should be intimidated or have their free speech chilled by gun nuts with pistols strapped to their waists.

Anonymous said...

Dave Houser, Emrick is the one rep. Boscola is the senator. FYI

Bernie O'Hare said...

"A drunk, despondent lonley , irritable and frustrated old man was drop kicked out of a west easton home 2 years ago"

Repeating a lie over and over does not make it true, Mezzacappa. The fact that you are too cowardly to sign your name tells my readers all they need to know. It seems to me that the only way of stopping you from your repeated lawsuits and false reports is to take everything you have. You brought it on yourself.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"No problem with Angle's past gun toting days."

It's amazing to me that the Anglephobes use anything as an excuse to attack him. He does not prance around at public meetings totin' a gun in a holster.

Anonymous said...

Let's acknowledge the reality that some of these meeting locations aren't in the best locations. Even in "safe" areas (like Ross Township) there is always the possibility of a deranged individual doing wrong.

You shouldn't have to give up your right to defend yourself going to/from (or even at) a meeting, in order to attend a meeting.

Bernie and Dave from Bangor want laws changed to keep people from carrying their guns in public buildings. That only stops those who want to listen. I think we already have laws in place against shooting other people, which didn't seem to help last night.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I want local government to have the express right to decide whether guns are or are not permitted inside their buildings. And yes, I think guns should be banned at all public meetings. There is absolutely no reason to be armed in a meeting in which emotions can run high and things can get out of hand. This is just common sense. There should probably also be an armed officer at every meeting for those who don't want to listen. Let's drop the bullshit already.

Anonymous said...

@2:59 AM Tricia Mezzacappa said: "We have all learned over the last 2 years, the colors of her clothes, her shoes, her animal, where she hikes, where she shops, where she collects petition signatures, dates and times of every single trip she makes into any public building, whom she hangs out with, what type of gun she has, and her ammo preferences, among other things, including her RTK requests, her police reports, her profession, her employer, her massage business, her political preferences, her attending of fund raisers, etc."

On behalf of the many people Mezzacappa has harassed and lied about, I have to point out the absurdity of the above statement. The reason we know so much about her is because she is foolish and lacks good judgment. Mezzacappa has her own blog and posts personal information there for anyone to read. She voluntarily surrendered her privacy a long time ago. She published her name, address, phone number, email address and other identifying information on her blog. She published photographs of herself and her pet pig. She published photographs of the inside and outside of her house. Amazingly, she even published a video tour of the inside and outside of her house. She published a photograph of herself as a child sitting on a pony. She published a photograph of herself as a college student with the NYC Twin Towers behind her. She published photographs of her shoes and her preferences for footwear. She published a photograph of her slacks to show the color. She published in great detail many of her Right to Know requests and her interaction with public officials. She published verbatim email exchanges with others. She published police reports containing identifying information about herself and others. She published lots of information about guns and her firearms preferences. She published personal information about her deceased father. She published details about an ex-fiance and their failed relationship. She published articles and photographs documenting her alliance with Jim Gregory. She published lots of inappropriate material about people she perceives to be her enemies, including a doctored photograph of Judge Zito in a clown wig. In addition to her blog, Mezzacappa also has a website where she published her nursing license number. I could go on and on.

Tricia, you have no privacy because you stupidly chose to put everything out there like an immature teenager. That was your choice, now deal with it.

By the way, the fact that you removed your blog from public view doesn't matter. We have a complete copy of everything: articles, photographs and videos. Its called preserving the evidence. LOL.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, if everyone in there was Pablo', they could easily have shot each other, resulting in more dead and maimed. Is this what you want?

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's why, in addition to the gun ban, an armed officer needs to be there.

Anonymous said...

I bet they'll think twice before taking some poor guys land. I would want an army present if I was involed

Anonymous said...

wow bernie, this is the fisrt time in a long while i agree with you. there needs to be a ban on guns at meetings! also people: this man was craping in open buckets, because he refused to get sewer or septic system! he is a nut! his property was a disaster.. it needed to be cleaned up!

Anonymous said...

I think having an armed officer at a public meeting stifles the very freedoms of speech that we all hold so very dear.

I've witnessed meetings where the chair or the members become emboldened in their discourse against public speakers because they know they can get away with it.

It's bad enough that the councils established time constraints on its citizenry for commentary. Three minutes? Five minutes? There is no way to engage the public with such limited time. Imagine having an armed officer step toward you because the chair doesn't like your topic or you happen to run over on your time. It's not what America is about.

And having an officer as a barrier between you and your elected officials just cements those individuals as being their own little aristocracy.

Sorry to ramble, but having one incident by a disturbed individual out of the tens if not hundreds of thousands of meetings that take place is overreaching and unnecessary. Why not have an armed officer in every classroom in the US? More children have been killed in schools than elected officials.

Anonymous said...

Come to an Allentown council meeting , they always have a cop ready to taze you if needed.

Anonymous said...

Let's remember that the shooter started firing from OUTSIDE the building, at people inside the building. This was not a case of tempers flaring in the course of a normal meeting, as Bernie is trying to portray it as. This man did not want to talk or discuss his situation.

As to armed guards at every meeting, I'm not sure that the need really exists, and there are other alternatives. Last night's horrific incident aside, think of all the public meetings (township, county, school, zoning, planning, PTA, etc) that take place each day without incident.

Even if the need were there, I doubt we'd have the money for an armed guard at every meeting, Trying to do so would surely divert money and manpower where it is needed more.

As Sun Tzu said, "He who seeks to protect everything, protects nothing".

Anonymous said...

He was just poor, people in Tennessee, Virgina, Carolina, Alaska etc still crap outside.

Anonymous said...

"An Erie ordinance banning firearms in parks is under attack precisely because state law trumps local regulation, and is currently under review in the Supreme Court."

The efforts of gun-rights activists (and their attorney Joshua Prince) to invalidate the City of Erie's ordinance that prohibits guns at city parks failed.

Erie County's President Judge recently upheld the local ordinance, stating:
"No matter how one views the situation, the open possession of loaded firearms in a public park does affect the public interest." An appeal to the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court was rejected on June 21, 2013.

In response to the two court losses the gun-rights activists showed up at a rally in Erie on June 23 with their firearms out in the open to defy the local ordinance. At the rally attorney Prince told a news outlet: "I filed an emergency appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that has now issued an order to the city to file an answer by June 28th, which is next Friday."

I question the wisdom of an attorney advising his clients to violate a court order and then actively participating in that defiance. A few weeks ago Prince and the gun rights activists got the bad news. In a per curiam opinion on July 19 the Supreme Court said: "Petitioner's Emergency Application for Stay and Request for Injunction is hereby DENIED."

This Erie case seems to give municipal officials some legal backing to adopt reasonable regulation of guns on public property in "the public interest." Second Amendment rights "are not unlimited," the city solicitor argued. "You can regulate guns in sensitive places."

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks for your informative comment.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, this is the case PFA township resident who was very much upset at his local government. It had gone on for 18 years. So I would argue it is an emotional, not a random, issue. An armed police officer at this meeting would have helped. It is not a desire to protect everything. It is a desire to protect our democracy, which is what happens at those meetings.

Anonymous said...

Since many of these cheap and conservative shit pot townships don't want to pay taxes they don't have police officers. If they use the state police they should be forced to pay for the time they spend at the meetings.

Anonymous said...

" An armed police officer at this meeting would have helped. It is not a desire to protect everything. It is a desire to protect our democracy, which is what happens at those meetings."

Bernie, a while back in a place not at all far from the Lehigh Valley, I personally saw democracy and First Amendment rights trampled at at least one municipal meeting by the presence of armed police officers "for the public's protection". Hot button issue being discussed, and the elected officials wanted to trample the will of the majority of the people. So they had multiple police present at the meeting, and used them to intimidate the public in attendance.

Elected officials, particularly the mayor of a given municipality, are the PD's ultimate boss. If they decide they want someone removed because they don't like what that member of the public says, it happens. And it happens regardless of whether the officer agrees with it because they're being given a direct order by their boss. They can and most likely will be fired if they don't.

None of that protects democracy or the democratic process--it suppresses it.

And again, it DOES happen. I've seen it. With more cops around more public meetings, it will happen more too. There's just too much temptation for a small time elected official who finds himself in the hot seat when citizens get peacefully pissed and say so.

We take risks every day, just by breathing or crossing the street or even stepping into the bath tub. What happened in Ross Twp. last night was a tragedy, but the better thing to do going forward into the future is probably to be more aware and be more proactive when it comes to spotting and helping those who are struggling and may be mentally ill. And, to find legal ways to get guns out of the hands of those who shouldn't have them (Mezzacappa seems to qualify here), NOT pass more laws that restrict the freedoms of sane, law-abiding people who aren't bothering anyone.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Allentowns version of Democrazy

Dave Houser Bangor borough council said...

I have requested an on duty police person be present at the next and all subsequent town council public meetings in Bangor. Will my fellow council mates agree with me? We'll see. Under the circumstances..this is the only way I can see to go as long as we as a municipality have no control over guns being brought to meetings on municipal property. I am asking the state of Pa. for equal protection under the law..simple as that.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have seen this as well. I take no pleasure in arguing for police at meetings. It certainly has been misused by elected officials in the past. But I do think we have a serious public safety problem. How many people will be discouraged from attending meetings out of fear that something untoward might happen?

Anonymous said...

Just hire guys like Kessler

Anonymous said...

Maybe Towns should be able to vote on issues instead of relying on state or federal laws. Let the people be heard

Anonymous said...

"But I do think we have a serious public safety problem. How many people will be discouraged from attending meetings out of fear that something untoward might happen?"

Yeah, we do have a serious public safety problem, but it's everywhere, not specifically municipal meetings.

I understand the emotional nature of having something like this happening so close to home, but making a decision on this based purely on emotions isn't a great solution either, especially when it won't solve the problem.

Were there a police officer at the Ross mtg, there's not only a reasonable chance he would have been killed or injured (bulletproof vest notwithstanding, getting shot in the head is obviously lethal) since the nutcase was shooting from OUTSIDE the meeting, but that the situation wouldn't have gone much differently.

A better question is, how many people would be discouraged from attending meetings out of fear they'll be removed from the premises (and possibly charged with disorderly conduct) if they run over their time limit, raise their voices or show any anger, etc.?

I'd say the danger of having First Amendment rights squashed is far greater than getting shot by some random nutcase. (Who, don't forget, got taken down and shot with his own gun by courageous unarmed citizens.)

Anonymous said...

I have spoken from both sides of the table. There were times when I was upset and showed my anger. I would have expressed my concerns in the same manner even if a police officer was present. An officer would not have deterred my speach and tone one bit. But if I was an extremist or someone barking just to bark and had some other motive, a police officer would deter my actions. Believe me, police officers have an understanding of politics and when a hostile exchange may occur or when someone is seriously expressing their issues. They understand voice tone, body language, political issue plus many other traits that would help them evaluate a decision on a threat. I have seen people address boards who I believe could cause an issue. And now being on this side of the table this issue has me very concerned. I
understand the need to have a police officer present.
Commissioner MZ

Anonymous said...

Maybe they could use metal detectors at the door. I don't think cops should be used to intimidate somebody the council doesn't want to hear. I've seen a cop used to stand next to a speaker at an Allentown meeting because the council wasn't informed enough to answer his questions.

Bernie O'Hare said...

5:54, I disagree with your observation that a police officer would have been killed himself. I believe that his presence would have deterred the killer and had the killer gone ahead anyway, a police officer would likely save lives.

But I recognize the intimidation of a police officer in a meeting room. His very presence, by itself, can have a chilling effect.

Anonymous said...

There was a time when living in the sticks was a life of peace and quiet.The only violence was an occasional fist fight at a beer joint.Same went for farming areas.There was a privilege also to live on the rite side of the tracks as well. Cities were thought of as lawless urban jungles with most of the blame placed on minorities. What the fuck happened the last 10 years? Amish and Newtown schools shot up.Theater shot up in high rent community. Rampages at colleges and churches of all places.Congresswoman shot in head now citizens at township meeting.Pretty dismal outlook for the future of our culture sad to say. Guess ill just stay home become antisocial and mind my own business.