In our last newsletter, you heard from Independent Program Attorney Edwin Walker on what was legal and not legal to add to your gun under federal. This newsletter Independent Program Attorney Justin McShane is here to tell you what attachments are legal and not legal to add to your firearm under state law.
In Part I, we saw the actions Clint took to defend his dog from being killed by the neighborhood stray. Now, in Part II you will learn if his actions followed the law. Watch Independent Program Attorney Justin McShane teach you the law, so you will know what to do if you find yourself in a similar situation.
Spring Break is here, and everyone is thawing out after a long winter. Before you take part in the festivities watchIndependent Program Attorney Justin McShane instruct you on the law before you walk into a restaurant or bar with your firearm.
Here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania there is no statute or law against being drunk with a gun, so just literally being drunk and having your gun as long as you’re not touching, it displaying it, doing anything that you shouldn’t be doing with it, you can be drunk as Cooter Brown.
We look at what the conduct is that you do with the gun.
The bottom line of it is that you’re responsible for those bullets that go up—drunk or not.
It doesn’t matter drunk or not, if you point a gun at someone that’s going to be a simple assault
Drunk or not if you lick a shot off and it’s not self-defense and it’s something that you intended to do depending upon what happens that’s gonna be the gradation of the offense
Drunk with a gun isn’t a separate and distinct crime here in Pennsylvania
You can take your gun into a bar in Pennsylvania
Bars are a carry area
The most that a bar can do is put up a sign that says no firearms and that’s their personal policy
If they catch you with it then you know they can ask you to leave and just like any other place that has such a policy if you remain then it becomes defiant trespass
There are so many varieties of ammo on the market today, but not every type is perceived the same in the eyes of the law. Watch Independent Program Attorney Justin McShane explain how the type of ammo you use could affect you.
Justin McShane: God bless the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, particularly when it comes to ammunition. We have no particular applicable laws when it comes to ammunition and it’s use, unlike some other states that has to do with hollow point and hollow point related carry and loads. Also, with number of rounds we don’t have that. The only thing we have to worry about are situations you’re not typically going to be involved with. And that’s going to be the federal armor piercing rounds, making them of your own and possessing them in an odd circumstance. Or number two is if you use Teflon coated rounds in the commission of a felony in Pennsylvania or federally is against the wall. There is no special ammunition restrictions when it comes to type other than the off the wall federal situations I talked about, or number two when it comes to magazine restrictions. God bless the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
U.S. LawShield of Pennsylvania Independent Program Attorney Justin McShane on protests and guns (transcript).
One of the hot-topic issues that we get on the non-emergency line has to do with gun rights and protesting. It’s not my job or my place in life or that of U.S. LawShield to tell you what you should protest for or against or whether or not you should protest at all.
That’s the beauty of the First Amendment, isn’t it?
It’s your choice and your decision. But what we can do is, we can tell you exactly
what the law is so you don’t run afoul of it. It’s a little bit complex because we live in complex times. But what we need to do is start with the very basics.
Protests and Guns
In Pennsylvania, we basically have two areas. There’s Philadelphia and the rest of the state. Well, in Philadelphia we have special rules when it comes to open carry. One may only open carry if you have a license to carry a firearm.
Why is that? As we’ve talked about before in many different videos, it is our only city of the first class, which means it has over 1 million people. Everywhere else in the state, it’s open carry as a default. It’s not against the law to open carry an AR on a sling or to open carry a firearm on your side.
For example, it is necessary, if you decide to conceal carry a firearm, which is a modern-day pistol for our purposes, in order to conceal carry that you have to have the license to carry a firearm. And, also, if you’re going to and from a protest, you need a license to carry a firearm in order to put it inside your car, and especially in Philadelphia, as we already talked about.
So one of the reactions is we get a lot of “what if” questions, and this video is going to help make sure that we carry and cover as many of those “what if” scenarios [as possible]. We can have “what if” scenario discussions till the cows come home.
That’s one of the things we like to do is talk about gun rights.
One of the things that comes up is the idea of a federal reaction. If there was a decision that there was going to be some sort of federal reaction to a protest. Well there are some provisions, and I’m not someone who likes to throw out statute books and statute things. But I think it’s important for you to actually read the law so you can understand it. And the first one is in Title 18 U.S.C. 3056. The other one to take a look at is 18 U.S.C. 1752.
What that allows is allows for something called the National Special Security Event. We’ve had a couple of those, believe it or not, in Pennsylvania, and fairly recently. If you remember, the pope, the pontiff, he came into Philadelphia. Department of Homeland Security and Secret Service decided to set up an NSSE, as it’s called, and prohibited not only firearms at the event, but also balloons and hard coolers and a whole bunch of stuff in order to, ostensibly, keep it secure for the pope.
One of the things that is supposed to happen when we have these NSSE events is the Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction, with the Secret Service, they’re supposed to look at criteria in order to see whether or not they can apply that.
The three criteria are pretty simple.
That’s the anticipated attendance by someone who is a U.S. high-level officer and/or foreign dignitary. That’s why when Trump, candidate Trump, visited the farm show complex, we couldn’t have firearms there. It had nothing to do with the candidacy or the candidate himself; it had to do with the Secret Service decision. And also when he was in Hershey post-presidency, that was another one that had to do with it. So the DHS and the Secret Service take a look at who’s going to be there.
The number two is the size of the event, how big the event is going to be.
And the third one is the quote unquote significance of the event.
And so that is a backdoor way, potentially, of having a federal response.
But one of the things you may, if you get your Google on, is to take a look at 42 U.S.C. 5207, which very blatantly says that even under states of emergency, like Hurricane Katrina, the government cannot, by law, confiscate firearms. So we have that kind of going on to keep in the background.
Another what if, if you will, is what if our governor, Tom Wolf here in Pennsylvania, decides in reaction to declare a state of emergency. He could certainly try to do that as the power of the executive. That could be challenged in court. But what happens in response to it—by the way, if you want to look up that statute it’s 18 P.S. 6107—and what it says in its important part, you should read the whole thing, is that there is no open carry on public streets or public property If the state of emergency is granted. So that general default shrinks down, unless you have an act of self-defense of yourself or others, or that you have a license to carry a firearm. So it’s another reason to get a license to carry a firearm, if you can.
Now this is something to just consider. You’re over 18. It’s the United States of America. You can do whatever you want, but when we take a look at events that have happened around the world and even here in the United States. Take a look at a popular nightclub. You can take a look at an open-air market, a fireworks show, airplanes, baggage claim, and probably worst of all, and the most despicable, at least in my mind, at a kids concert. What did they all have in common? And what are the things that we like to say as a gun owning community is that they happen in gun free zones, and that is generally, and specifically, very true.
But one of the other things you have in common is that there’s a conglomeration of a lot of people. There’s just a high concentration of people in a very compact area. You know what that sounds like? It sounds like a protest to me, as well, too. So it’s one of those things that you have to be very aware of is not just to all of these what ifs that we went through in the Pennsylvania law and federal response and open carry in states of emergency, and all of that’s good stuff, but that concentration of people. I’m not here to tell you what to do, who to protest for and against, or whether or not to protest at all. But it’s something that you should consider as well too. Because what we all want here at U.S. LawShield of Pennsylvania is for you to be safe and to be legal.
As back to school time approaches, our Independent Program Attorney Justin McShane explains the laws in Pennsylvania regarding guns and schools.
Back to school
Independent Program Attorney Justin McShane:
Guns in school in Pennsylvania is a hot-ticket item. I mean everyone has their opinion about it.
I’m here to tell you what the law is.
So what we have to do when we talk about guns in schools, is we have to differentiate between two different types of schools. That’s K through 12, both private, parochial, and also public schools. That’s one group, and then there’s college, or post-secondary schools.
When it comes to college and post-secondary schools, they can make up their own policies when it comes to whether or not they want to have handguns or rifles or anything on campus. That is just that. It’s just a policy. It isn’t the law. The most that they can do is ask you to leave, and if you stay, then you can be hit with defiant trespass and it becomes a criminal case, but it is not per se against the law when it comes to campus carry.
Meaning, of course, post-secondary education. Now when it comes to K through 12, this is where it gets a little bit dicey, and again I’m here to tell you what the law is, not what we want it to be.
There is a debate, and it is ongoing in Pennsylvania, about the ramifications of this case called Goslin. G-O-S-L-I-N if you want to Google it. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Goslin had to deal with a guy who brought a knife, a pocketknife, into school when he was talking about his kid being expelled for bringing a similar type pocketknife into school.
And the argument that was made unsuccessfully at first was that was not against the law, and then ultimately in what we call a en banc or more judges decision, that it was found to be lawful under those particular circumstances. Some lawyers and some district attorneys read that very broadly, and what that means is that it is okay if you have a license to carry a firearm, if you carry a lawful weapon when you’re dropping your kid off at school, or at a school-related activity, or even potentially at school with with a firearm.
I highly, highly, highly recommend against it, for two basic reasons. Number one, I think that’s a really, really broad reading of that case, and as such, it is extremely dangerous because that original case had to do with the little pocketknife. We’re talking about a handgun, or a rifle, or shotgun, that’s going to be a different ball of wax.
Number two is no one wants to be that test case, because your name gets dragged through the mud and you take a lot of risk. So we recommend AGAINST bringing any sort of firearm to school, on school property, or school-related activities that are held on school property.
So those are the things that we have to be very careful and very aware of when it comes to guns and back to school time in K through 12. We recommend against it.
In fact, what I do when I drop off my daughter is I park my car across the street, and I walk her over to school, because I have guns in my truck, and on my person I leave the gun behind in the truck, and walk her across. That’s the law in Pennsylvania, like it or not.
Independent Program Attorney Justin McShane on laws affecting guns and boats in Pennsylvania:
I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful its summertime. And with summer, comes boats and boating.
A lot of the questions we get here at U.S. Law Shield of Pennsylvania surround acts and circumstances having to do with a boat in boating. One of the big questions is “Are my gun rights affected because I’m on a boat?” And the answer to that depends upon “Do you have a license to carry a firearm?”
Under the Fish and Game code, it is illegal for anyone to have a loaded gun, whether it is a short-barreled rifle, or a short-barreled shotgun, or any other weapon, any type of pistol, any type of long gun, loaded on a watercraft unless you have a license to carry a firearm.
That’s a whole other reason why you should go out and get a license to carry a firearm. They are easy to get in Pennsylvania.
Are Boats Vehicles?
One of the other questions that come up with self-defense—is a boat considered a vehicle? Why would someone care about that? Well, someone might care about that because, as we know in Pennsylvania, we have a very broad, very wide, Castle Doctrine that includes when someone tries to get in your car or remove you from the car.
Castle Doctrine has a presumption of reasonableness. Well, a boat is not a car or vehicle, and the vehicle code says that’s not going to be something that’s going to be covered under the Castle Doctrine in Pennsylvania. However, that doesn’t get rid of your right to self-defense. You still have the right to self-defense, you just lose that presumption of reasonableness.
Houseboats, we get questions all the time about houseboats. There are a lot of houseboats on Lake Raystown and other lakes in Pennsylvania. Is a houseboat a dwelling? A dwelling is important again because of the Castle Doctrine. If someone attempts to enter or breach your dwelling, the Castle Doctrine can apply. That’s the presumption of reasonableness that’s very powerful under the law. And the technical definition of a dwelling is any structure, which for the time being, is a home or place of lodging.
So houseboats can be a dwelling, depending upon how it is regularly used. In this particular set of circumstances that a dwelling can cover, but it doesn’t automatically cover the houseboat.
The final question we get a lot is because people like to drink while they’re out on the boat. Well, there are a couple of concerns you need to recognize. First off, there are definitely boat BUI rules, which have very serious consequences in Pennsylvania. They have the same traditional cut offs on the per se already, .08 and .02.
Depending on your age and circumstances, the other aspect you have to be aware of, and what we get asked a lot of questions about is, what if you are drunk in a boat with a gun? Is that against the law?
Believe it or not, in Pennsylvania, we don’t have a specific law like some other states as far as being drunk with guns, so being drunk with a gun isn’t against the law. You know it all depends on what you do with a gun. If you point the gun at someone, well that’s gonna be a simple assault. So regardless if you’re sober as a judge or as intoxicated as Cooter McGee, it doesn’t matter. It only matters what you do with a gun.
If you put a gun up in the air, shoot some rounds off, and there are people nearby, there’s the picture that you’re potentially recklessly endangering someone, depending on the specifics of the facts, and that is regardless of whether or not you’re sober or you’re highly intoxicated.
So that is a brief discussion about the way that boats and guns in Pennsylvania work.
Note: This article, Food for the Birds in Pennsylvania, is the fourth in a five-part series discussing tactics that land hunters and anglers in jail.
Scores of people last winter flocked to Berks County in southeastern Pennsylvania for a glimpse at a rare black-and-gold feathered visitor.
Some theorized it was a black-backed oriole, far from his native haunts of Mexico’s moist, lowland forests. Perhaps he flew the coop of someone’s private aviary.
At any rate, BB, his nickname, became a media sensation. A Facebook page created for him reported nearly 2,000 people flocked to see him darting to and from neighborhood bird feeders.
BB’s story shows how much Pennsylvanians love birds, so much so that the thousands of feeders form a food infrastructure for many of the 420 species spotted throughout the commonwealth—and also some hungry bears.
Wildlife officials warn, however, that bears and bird feeders spell trouble.
“If you see a bear at your feeder, or find that your feeders have been smashed by a bear, stop feeding immediately,” according to an article from Penn State Extension service. (The information appears under the heading “When should I stop feeding bird?”)
“In early spring when bears arouse from hibernation, they are hungry and often attracted to bird feeders,” the article stated. “Bears are particularly fond of black-oil sunflower seeds.”
“The bear or bears will return as long as food is available, and this can lead to other problems for both you and the bear.”
Yes, it’s dangerous to block a bear from breakfast.
“But other encounters can bring about costly legal fines,” said Justin McShane, an Independent Program Attorney for U.S. Law Shield of Pennsylvania.
Feeding bears in Pennsylvania has been illegal since 2003. A person caught feeding the bear faces a hefty fine.
And conservation officers won’t be sympathetic if a person kills a bear to protect family or property, but failed to remove birdseed or other attractants. The shooter may have to reimburse the Commonwealth for the dead bear.
“That’s called civil restitution,” McShane said. “One guy was in that situation a few years back. We read that he had to pay $6,000 in fines and restitution.”
“Similar consequences exist for a bird lover who has a feeder, and is aware that bears use it too,” McShane said.
“Conservation officers can give written notices to stop feeding songbirds if bears are being lured by feeders and causing a nuisance,” McShane said. “But this isn’t intended to restrict bird feeding; it’s to protect the public from bears.”
The problem has grown in the past few decades, according to Mark Kropa, a Pennsylvania wildlife conservation officer.
“In the 1970s, it was estimated that 4,000 black bears lived in Pennsylvania,” Kropa said in a 2015 news release. “Today approximately 18,000 live in the state.”
Unfortunately, according to Kropa, what is often called a “nuisance bear” actually is just “a bear being a bear.”
“Birdseed left out in feeders can potentially become ‘bear seed,’” Kropa said. “The black bear is an omnivore which means it will eat just about anything.
“That sometimes leads to conflicts with humans.”
But Kropa and McShane agreed that bear-human conflicts are avoidable and, thus, so are the fines.
“Put bird feeders and seed away or keep it inside at night,” Kropa said. “Birds don’t need supplemental feeding in the spring and summer months.
“(Also) keep garbage inside until trash day.”
Kropa said don’t leave extra pet food outside and be sure to burn off all grease and food on the outdoor grill.
“If you have tried the aforementioned deterrents and a bear still frequents your property, or, if a bear is acting aggressively or damaging property, you may want to call the Game Commission,” Kropa said. “The agency may deem the bear a candidate to trap and relocate.”
“Another good idea is a U.S. Law Shield membership with the Hunter Shield add-on,” McShane said.
“This service keeps you protected in the field and at home,” McShane said. “We also provide great legal education to keep you a law-abiding gun owner and sportsman.”
“Education, after all, is one of the best protections in all circumstances,” McShane said. — Bill Miller, Contributor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield blog
Law Shield Member Ambassador Sherry Hale:
Welcome members and fellow gun owners. In the last Members Voice video, our member Tyler witnessed a criminal breaking into his car. Tyler drew his gun and the bad guys ran away.
The legal questions started pouring in, and members, you wanted to know your legal rights in your state. So here’s your U.S. Law Shield Independent Program Attorney to give you insight on what the law says.
U.S. Law Shield of Pennsylvania Independent Program Attorney Justin McShane:
It’s the middle of the night, and all of a sudden, you hear crashing glass. You come to your fully awake state, and you think: “Did the dog knock over something?” You start looking around, and all of a sudden you notice that there’s some scumbag that broke your window. It’s looking to get in your car, that’s in your driveway, and you have an unattached driveway, meaning it’s a little bit away from the house.
Oh man. They picked the wrong person, right?
Know the law in Pennsylvania. Now it’s a different story if they broke into your garage, or even if your garage door was open, and they broke into your car, because that follows under the Castle Doctrine. We have a whole video that talks about the Castle Doctrine, and what that means. If you’re inside your car when they’re breaking in, that also falls under the Castle Doctrine, and take a look at that video.
What I’m talking about is your unattached driveway, that’s a little bit further away, and it’s parked there. That doesn’t fall under the Castle Doctrine.
What can you do? You can take video of it. Call 9-1-1. Wait for the police to respond. You can confront the person with words. You can sit there and you can say “Stop what you’re doing!” And that might be enough to provoke that startle reflex, and they go running away.
Or it might provoke them to take armed aggression towards you if they have any sort of weapon. So you have to be situationally aware of all these things, and think them out in your mind and because there’s so many permutations and variable.
But if they’re just simply breaking in, you cannot draw down on them with your AR and start shooting. That’s going to be a crime under that scenario. And if it changes where they take an aggressive posture, where they start charging at you, or something like that, that’s totally different, totally different.
But when it comes to just a simple break into your car, that’s so offensive, you cannot take the law in your own hands and it is not the death penalty that you’re allowed to unleash upon that scumbag. That’s the law in Pennsylvania.
Law Shield Member Ambassador Sherry Hale:
Educating you is the cornerstone of U.S. Law Shield. Thank you for being a part of our family.
A recent national television report asserted that road-rage incidents are becoming more common and more deadly, with the latest incident taking place in Pennsylvania, in which a man is alleged to have shot and killed a teenage girl during a traffic merge. Click to watch level-headed advice from Justin McShane, your Independent Program Attorney, about what to do—and what not to do—in these situations.
One of the major benefits of U.S. Law Shield is you have that emergency 24-hour line. It goes directly to me. It doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas Eve at 2 o’clock in the morning. We had one of those.
You are encouraged to give us a call as soon as possible when it involves a critical incident to make sure that we get out in front of it. I’d rather that you call me with anything and not need me, and I say “Hey it’s not a big deal” when you describe it to me, then saying “Oh, I don’t want to bother him,” and then all of a sudden it turns into this big deal on something that we could have head off at the pass earlier.
The number-one call that we get has to do with negligent discharge, and we had a video about that a couple of months ago. Number two are what we call road-rage incidents. Road-rage incidents is a matter of interpretation, right? You know your right to defend yourself doesn’t stop just because you’re behind the wheel of a car. If you think about a car, and what is frequently said about a car, it’s either a half-ton, or sometimes a ton, or you know, a smaller amount of energy that’s going, that has to do with that and it is a deadly weapon our courts have held. So simply saying that “Oh some guy was driving into me or towards me and you know you could have driven away” it’s not as simple as that. Maybe some prosecutors think that.
Maybe some police officers think that, but the truth of the matter is whenever someone has a vehicle at speed going, that is a potentially very dangerous event. So what we have to do when it comes to a road-rage incident, is we have to apply our good old standard fashions of self-defense. Under the totality of the circumstances, everything that is known to you at the time, is it reasonable for you to fear serious bodily injury, death, kidnapping, or sexual assault? That’s our general formula when it comes to lethal self defense. If the answer to that is yes, then you may use lethal deadly force, or you can display a firearm, or something like that.
Now, is that a formula for get-out-of-jail-free card Absolutely not. What should you do if you’re involved in a road-rage incident? What I would suggest is, number one: Be safe. Disengage from the idiot. Oh man, there’s so many idiots out on the road. Be situationally aware. Use your three mirrors. Look around. Do all the things that have to do with that. Stop the car. Drive to a public place. Drive to a police station. Do what is ever necessary to avoid and escape. Number two: Give us a call before you talk to the police.
We’ll go through this kind of checklist that we have, and each situation is different. Whether or not we want to call 911 or not? Sometimes we may want to, and sometimes we’ll just let sleeping dogs lie. And so it’s all fact dependent. There’s no magic formula that I can give for you. But what I can do is tell you this: That it’s not as simple as some people make it out to be when it comes to any type of automobile. Because it is a dangerous situation when you start getting into those silly games with bad drivers, and people who mean to do your harm. So what we have to do is remember and recall those general guidelines when it comes to self-defense.
When you are safe, give us a call, so we can run down what you want to do in order to protect yourself legally. And each one of these things we have to remember is very important in how you conduct yourself. So don’t be the hothead behind the wheel, but also just don’t blow it off. This is our suggestions in corporation with the law of Pennsylvania.