As the 2020 election season comes around, recent events can make it unclear what to expect when gun owners prepare to go out and vote. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to voting in this year’s election.
Carrying Firearms at Polling Places
In Pennsylvania, there is no specific law prohibiting firearms at polling places. While some other states have such a law, Pennsylvania does not. Further, there is no federal law prohibiting firearms at polling places either. As a result, if the polling station is not set up at a location that would otherwise be prohibited, it is perfectly legal for someone who has a License to Carry Firearms to be armed while they vote. Be careful however, because Pennsylvania polling places are sometimes set up at locations that are already prohibited, such as an elementary school.
Recently, some politicians have made a push to allow voting by mail in light of the pandemic. If your polling place is in a restricted location and you’re thinking of voting by mail to avoid the hassle of a gun-free zone, you might want to think again. Remember that firearms are prohibited in post office buildings and any property under the sole control of the post office, including the parking lot! Driving up to a mailbox in the post office parking lot to submit your ballot would be a crime if you’re armed.
Demonstrations and Protests
If you are going out to the polls in person, be mindful of demonstrations and large crowds. With political tensions high, we have seen situations grow violent. Of course, we all want to be prepared to defend ourselves if we are ever in danger of imminent death or serious bodily injury, but I think we can also agree that the best gun fight is the one that doesn’t occur.
Maintain your situational awareness and remember that sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. I urge you to keep a level head and attempt to avoid escalating the situation. Remember, if you engage protesters and wind up in an altercation, you may be arrested prior to casting your vote. This may even be the goal of some protestors who are looking to keep those with opposing views from voting. Voting is a critical civil right and responsibility that we enjoy, and I encourage everyone to vote. After all, every vote counts.
For any questions about firearms and voting in the State of Pennsylvania, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
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