Montgomery County, PA Sheriff’s Office: Self-Defense is a Privilege, not a Right

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In my quest to carry a concealed handgun without risking imprisonment, I visited the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in Norristown, Pennsylvania again today to submit their “Application for a Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms” (an entirely unconstitutional obstacle).

I Have to Join a Race in Order to Defend Myself

At the gun permits office (inside a courthouse), a burly old man in uniform and openly carrying a firearm took a look at my application and said it was not complete. He wanted me to fill out the race field. “I have no race.” I said. “Then you’re not getting a permit,” he said. I asked if he would accept “N/A”. No was the answer. Then he asked me, in an aggressive tone, if I wanted the gun permit or not, a clear threat that if I didn’t bend to him, my rights would be violated (since when I carried in ways only permitted by them to permit holders, I could be imprisoned).

He told me to leave but I insisted. “Which ones are acceptable?,” I asked. “White, Black, Asian.” I think he left out Hispanic. “Isn’t it racist,” I asked, “to demand people identify with some racial category?” After he repeated his demand several times I relented and announced I had filled out the field under duress.

Demands Social Security Number – but it’s Voluntary

He then insisted I fill out the social security number field. But I told him his own form said it was voluntary. We repeated this exchange several times before he moved on. So much for the idea that “voluntary” and “government” can be used in the same sentence.

Contradictions on Demand for References

Then he noticed the two references fields were empty. He said the form was not complete. I pointed him to his own instructions where it said references were needed only if renewing. See:

If renewing, applicant must remember to supply names, addresses and telephone numbers of two (2) references (not immediate family.) [Source]

He said “Yes, if renewing.” I said, “Exactly, that is my point, since I am not renewing it does not apply to me.” He actually contradicted himself multiple times on this point. He said the references were required while confirming that the page of instructions he gave me was correct. Finally, another man in uniform joined the discussion explaining that it is assumed/implied that references are needed for new applicants as well. I told him his coworker disagreed.

Guns are a Privilege, Like Driving?

One outrageous thing the other man said was that bearing arms is a privilege, not a right – just like driving. I asked him if the entire Pennsylvania and US constitutions were about privileges then but he yelled over me.

As we all know, the US consitution’s second amendment states:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Perhaps less well-known is the Pennsylvania constitution, which is crystal clear on the matter:

The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned

By the way, driving is not a privilege either. Driving on someone else’s property or with someone else’s car is, of course, a privilege, but driving is no more a privilege than breathing is.

They Should be Ashamed

Several times I re-submitted my application for their processing and they always refused. Several times I was told to leave (mostly in a very intimidating manner) and refused. At the end, after waiting several minutes since the last interaction I decided it was time to leave. I told them they should be ashamed for interfering with people’s exercise of their rights and declared I would return.

“Just Doing their Jobs”?

In case anyone wants to argue that they were just doing their jobs, that does not excuse anything. Each one of us has a brain and the ability to use it to determine what is right and what is wrong. No matter what your opinion of government is, their own, most supreme rules are clear on the matter of gun rights. They are unquestionable and are not to be infringed. If government is really about the rule of law, then let it respect its own most supreme laws first.

I was Respectful at all Times

I was respectful at all times. Early in the encounter I stated to the first man that I meant no disrespect. I simply was trying to make sense of their own rules. I maintained a calm tone but was firm. I think this is the right way to treat people who are mixed up in wrong: be firm but be respectful; treat them as you would like to be treated but do not be deferential.

Want to be a Reference?

I have one reference but am unsure who to ask to be the second one. Preferably it should be someone inside the area claimed by the Pennsylvania government or even better that of Montgomery County. According to the various PA gun forums, they don’t call references but since I stood up to them, you never know. I’m offering 5 ounces of silver for the right person as a token of gratitude and recognition of the impropriety of the thing. (If you want more, let me know, I might take you up on it.)

Photo credit: Logan Cyrus. Photo license.

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