Philadelphia Magazine | By Christine Speer Lejeune | February 15, 2012
The PA state rep has some troubling ideas about what exactly is covered by the Constitutional right to bear arms.
Philly, get yer guns! No, seriously … go get a gun. That’s the plan coming from Harrisburg right now in respect to gun violence, as proposed by a state representative named Daryl Metcalfe. A gun for everyone, and everyone for guns!
If you don’t know Daryl Metcalfe, it’s likely because the Republican representative hails from Butler County, a pastoral swath of the state about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh (a.k.a.: a place no stray Philly bullets ever fly).
You may have read about the guy: He’s currently at the center of a gun controversy that began four years ago, when the state shot down a proposal to require all gun owners whose firearms went missing to report it to the police in a timely manner. The state didn’t pass the law, but Philly (and 29 other cities throughout the state) did, in terms of local gun owners. The idea was to stem the tide of stolen and lost guns that find their way into criminal hands—so that, as Ceasefire PA notes, “law enforcement can begin looking for a gun before it turns up at the scene of a crime.”
It’s far from a fix-all, but the proposal certainly seems like a small, sensible step in a city where the gun problem regularly makes national news, and where 85 percent of last year’s murders were shootings, according to the Daily News.
But clearly, there’s no room for something like sense when we’re talking about guns. Just ask Metcalfe, who has proposed House Bill 1523—being debated right now—that would allow legal gun owners or groups like the NRA to sue any city with any such ordinances. Metcalfe’s admitted focus with this bill? To force cities to stop “thumbing their noses at state law” by trying to regulate the (lack of) gun control that’s literally killing their cities.
Who do these cities think they are, anyway? What’s a little crime crisis when we’re talking about the intricacies and hierarchies of state constitutions?
We’ll find out soon if the legislation will pass, if Metcalfe can manage to show those cities who’s boss. In fact, the passage of the bill seems likely—cities aren’t supposed to adopt ordinances that might supercede state law. Regardless, it’s not really this hubristic power struggle that’s keeping me up nights. And it isn’t the failure of the state to pass what seems like a fairly commonsense law to begin with. (Wouldn’t any normal gun owner report a missing gun? And if not, isn’t that fishy?) It’s not even the absurd assertion from supporters that being required to report a stolen handgun somehow infringes on the Constitutional right to own that handgun.
No, the truly haunting issue here is what Metcalfe said about how we city folk should deal with gun crime on Chris Stigall’s radio show last week.
“Across the state, there’s many of us who really believe the ultimate way for a citizen to be protected from the criminal element is to ensure that there’s no obstacles between a law-abiding citizen and their right to bear arms … Because as you know, and as I think the majority of the residents of Philadelphia know, if they’re confronted by a criminal, most likely, there’s not going to be a police officer to take care of the problem. They’re going to have to deal with it themselves.”
So there you have it Philly. Deal with it yourselves. Go exercise that right and get you a gun. Don’t you feel safer already knowing that everybody you pass on the street might be armed and ready? (Bet you’ll think twice about cutting that guy off on the Schuylkill, eh?)
And if, by chance, this place ends up like the O.K. Corral, with still more bodies strewn across the city, the shootings and accidents and murder numbers all going sky high, well, you can just take comfort in knowing that, as a Pennsylvanian, nobody will ever impose on you the ponderous task of making a phone call you don’t want to make. Because that would be the real tragedy.