When I received a call last week telling me that the leadership in the Pennsylvania House had once again shot down an effort to vote on a pigeon shoot ban, all I could wonder was, “What more do they need from us?”
Those working for years to simply get a vote on this issue have been bending over backward to address every single objection put forth by the politicians. None of them will come out and say they actually support pigeon shoots, but so many seem to have this reason or that problem which they would like see addressed before they can support a vote to ban the shoots. Point by point these reasons have been addressed, yet still the leadership in the House and Senate won’t allow a simple vote. What more do they want?
When they expressed concerns about a pigeon shoot ban infringing on hunting or gun rights, ban supporters in the legislature wrote a clean, short bill that specifically ensures that these rights will not be impacted. Do they need us to pinky swear on it, too?
When some asked for stand-alone bills, they got them in both the House and Senate. When they wanted the ban included as an amendment to something else, they have had that opportunity given over and over. The bills have many sponsors from both parties, a true bi-partisan effort. Do they need an actual majority sponsoring the bills? Would even that be enough support to get a vote?
Some legislators said they’d prefer that we simply make shoots go away through community pressure. And when we managed to do just that in Berks when one of the clubs hosting shoots decided to stop doing so, we thought maybe we were on to something. Until new shoots started to pop up outside of Berks County for the first time in years. Now Bucks and Dauphin Counties are holding shoots along with Berks. Do legislators need these shoots to be in their own districts before they will hear the pleas of those who have been stuck with them for years? Just wait, they may get their wish if these shoots continue to spread.
When some legislators noted that many of the other 49 States which don’t have shoots simply prosecuted under existing cruelty laws and wondered why we didn’t do the same, we tried. Except District Attorneys are all under the (we believe mistaken) impression that the shoots are legal and have intervened to stop prosecution, telling us that we should work through legislation. Which is it to be? We can’t do both.
When they told us that those calling about a pigeon shoot ban were being “too emotional” we helped our supporters make an intellectual case: That these shoots are banned in the other 49 states, that they aren’t covered under the four exemptions of cruelty under Pennsylvania law (agriculture, pest control, hunting and self defense), that they bring in unsavory out-of-state elements to our community, or that children are used as “wringers” in these unsporting, gambling spectacles. Yet as unmoved as they were by emotion they seem to be equally unmoved by intellect. What argument will work?
Perhaps the legislators have been just too busy to fit it in to the calendar. Maybe they couldn’t find time last week to sneak in a vote on a pigeon shoot ban between their votes for non-binding resolutions supporting “Juvenile Detention Centers Week” and “Credit Union Week”. Could they not find ten minutes for a vote on something that has a real impact on our community?
I wonder of those who say they do support a vote on the ban: Can’t you press your leadership in the House and Senate for a vote? If for no other reason, it will get this issue off of your plate and us out of your hair.
And I wonder if they realize that their legislative inaction is resulting in our organization, which creates jobs, pays taxes, and serves their community and constituents in Pennsylvania, being attacked by out-of-state groups who come to us with their extreme agendas and purity tests? These shoots are a problem in our community and the solution lies in our community- with our legislators. How long do we need to both be host to gambling, hostile pigeon shooters from other states and be attacked by animal extremists for not doing enough to stop shoots when we have no legal ability to do so and have been among the only local organizations even addressing this issue?
Do the legislators not see that their inaction is impacting us, their constituency, negatively? Must they continue to side with the interests of those from other states and turn their back on the pleas of organizations and voters from right here in Pennsylvania? (See postscript at end for most recent out-of-state intervention)
Do we need to return to the days of the Hegins shoot when white supremacists defending shoots and animal rights extremists opposing them screamed it out in front of the national media? What more do they need from us to simply bring the bills or amendments for a pigeon shoot ban up for a simple vote?
Some politicians wring their hands about “voter enthusiasm gaps”. This year it’s one party, two years ago it was another, it is sure to swing again in the future. The politicians ask us, “What can we do for you people so you’ll understand how hard we’ve been working for you?” I’ll tell them what they can do. They can do something that inspires us. They can finally put this up for a vote.
Help us in Berks County and Bucks County and Dauphin County and wherever the next one of these shoots pops up finally join the other 98% of the United States and put this ridiculous practice to bed once and for all.
Post script: Perhaps some were once again swayed by a little out of state advocacy group based in Fairfax, Virginia. You may have heard of them: the NRA. They seem greatly concerned for us in PA and worry we would be losing a “proud tradition” that is 100 years old. 100 years ago Pennsylvania also had a proud tradition of not letting women vote. Sometimes we manage just fine leaving some traditions behind. Read the NRA’s concerns for our “heritage” for yourself- it’s touching:
NRA Alert (10-13-10)
Pennsylvania’s “Castle Doctrine” Bill Needs Your Help Immediately!
Please Contact Your State Senator ASAP!
As you will recall, State Senator Richard Alloway (R-33) filed an amendment to House Bill 1926 containing vital “Castle Doctrine” language. Unfortunately, anti-hunting extremists have filed their own amendment to HB1926 that seeks to outlaw organized Pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania. Harrisburg needs to stop playing political games with our important self-defense rights and pass the “Castle Doctrine.”
Pigeon shooting is an historic and legitimate activity steeped in tradition with many participants throughout the Commonwealth and around the world. For over one hundred years, shoots have been held in Pennsylvania by law-abiding, ethical shooting enthusiasts, hunters, and sportsmen who would not tolerate an activity that would constitute cruelty to animals.�
National “animal rights” extremist groups, led by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), have organized and funded efforts in Pennsylvania and around the country to ban this longstanding traditional shooting sport. Make no mistake; this isn’t just about banning pigeon shooting, but banning all hunting species by species.
In contrast, Senator Alloway’s proposed amendment to the bill seeks to protect our rights. It would permit law-abiding citizens to use force, including deadly force, against an attacker in their homes and any places outside of their home where they have a legal right to be. If enacted, this law would also protect individuals from civil lawsuits by the attacker or the attacker’s family when force is used.
Please contact your State Senator TODAY and respectfully urge them to vote for HB1926 without any anti-gun amendments, including the ban on pigeon shoots. Contact information can be found by clicking here.