To further the protection of residents' Second Amendment rights, Gov. Tom Corbett signed House Bill 40, expanding what's known as the Castle Doctrine.
The changes will go into effect late next week.
"After a hard-fought battle to advance this legislation through the General Assembly, I am pleased the Castle Doctrine is finally law." Corbett said.
When faced with life-and-death situations when seconds count, residents shouldn't have to fear criminal prosecution to save their own or their families' lives and safety.
"This is common sense legislation that will further protect our rights, rather than those of criminals." Corbett said.
This debate over gun ownership rights has raged for decades. City dwellers have a quite different outlook on who should own guns and for what reason than do rural folks. One group believes that the only way to cure crimes committed by gun-toting thugs is to outlaw guns for everyone. On paper, I guess that works.
But in real life, it boils down to people who responsible and legally own guns for various legitimate reasons being more and more restricted while criminals boldly continue to use guns because they can get them illegally from any number of sources. A statistic that seems to be - probably deliberately - ignored is that in those places where guns are outlawed, crime increases significantly.
I have always advocated for the private ownership of firearms, for obvious reasons. I hunt and use my firearms for that endeavor. But frankly folks, I have firearms I use for protection. And in my lifetime I can relate at least four times when I have definitely used my gun to protect myself. No, I never shot anyone, but I am absolutely committed to the fact that if I need to do that, I will.
"I could never shoot anyone," lots of people say to me. Well, of course, hopefully none of us could just up and shoot people for no good reason. Neither could I. But if you came home from shopping and found your daughter being raped, could you then take up a gun to save her life? Whether or not you could use a gun to protect yourself is a matter of circumstance.
My philosophy is the same as it is when I'm in the woods hunting and see that my path is about to cross that of someone I do not know: I simply do not let anyone I perceive as a threat get within arm's length of me. When I travel inside Pennsylvania, my handgun is with me. I refuse to be a sitting duck if I have a flat tire or breakdown on one of our state's wonderful serpentine two-lane country roads. And I go on plenty of them.
I believe that if a person bent on mayhem decides to break into my house, he will think twice about it if he has reason to believe that the person inside is armed.
Frankly, given the current world situation, I don't want to lose control of my own firearms. My opinion is that we'd have fewer of these shooting rampages in office buildings, post offices and schools if the perpetrators believed that those inside had a way to protect themselves.
In the aftermath of natural disasters such as hurricanes and riots, those whose businesses and homes suffered the least, if any damage, were owned by those who were able to protect themselves.
I don't fit well with the image of a cringing victim. I don't intend to be one. I've protected myself a few times with a firearm over the years. Let me tell you about one.
One of my favorite fishing holes lies at the end of 12 miles of dirt road that winds along the bottom of state game lands. I'd gone trout fishing one summer day.
At day's end, as I drove the 12 miles back to the main road, my handgun was beside me on the truck seat. Almost out to the main road, I neared the spot where the creek widens and deepens, a place people favor for swimming and partying. I rounded the bend, and about 15 young men were standing around on the road, most with a beer can in their hands.
They made no move to allow me to pass so I stopped. It was a sticky situation. Quickly I locked both truck doors and looked up to see two men approaching my side of the vehicle, the rest of the fellows still plastered all over the road.
I simply picked up my pistol, leaned my arm against the steering wheel in such a way that the first man could see it. When he did, he yelled something (I couldn't hear just what he said), but the nicest hole you ever saw opened up in the wall of men and I drove through.
No, I don't advocate we all walk around with guns on our hips.
But it is time to stop proposing stupid measures that squeeze the honest, legal, law-abiding gun owner like me. As long as our justice system seems unable to put violent offenders away for any length of time, as long as there are all kinds of illegal ways for folks bent on crime to secure guns, I'm ecstatic we can finally, legally protect ourselves.
Shirley Grenoble's outdoor columns appear in the Sunday Mirror on the Outdoors page.