Amid Pennsylvania gun laws debate, Borowicz will host firearms seminar in Centre County

Firearms Owners Against Crime President Kim Stolfer said many are surprised to learn what Pennsylvania legislation says about carrying firearms — where they are permitted and how they must be transported.

In a free Firearms Safety and Rights Seminar Monday — hosted by state Rep. Stephanie Borowicz, R-McElhattan — Stolfer will teach attendees about firearms law, proposed legislation and the concealed carry process.

Borowicz, who did not respond to requests for comment, has hosted a series of firearm seminars. Residents are invited to learn about “freely, safely and responsibly exercising your God-given right to keep and bear arms,” she wrote in a release for the event, which will be held from 6-8 p.m. Monday at the Snow Shoe Township building, located at 268 Oldside Road.

“The reason people carry a firearm is because there’s an innate nature to human beings — a willingness to defend themselves with whatever is necessary,” Stolfer, a former Marine and lifelong resident of south western Pennsylvania, said.

During the seminar, Stolfer said his main purpose is to clarify any misconceptions or misinterpretations of Pennsylvania law and how proposed legislation, including House Bill 1075, could affect firearm owners.

By teaching seminars, Stolfer said he is able to explain “the lies, the myths and the misunderstandings” about firearm rights.

Where an individual is allowed to carry a firearm is one of the most asked questions during safety and rights seminars, Stolfer said.

“I ask them generically, ‘How many of you in this room think that it’s illegal to have a gun on school property?’ “ he said. “In most cases — in the recent seminars — everybody’s hand goes up, which is not correct.”

The 2016 Pennsylvania Superior Court ruling in Commonweath v. Goslin decided that carrying a concealed firearm is a lawful purpose. The FOAC, Stolfer said, was the moving organization behind that court case.

“I let everyone know that it is legal to have a firearm when you’re on school property as long as you have a license to carry, and the firearm is valid for that purpose,” he said, adding that the firearm being carried has to be within the parameters of the law.

Although Stolfer said it may not be illegal to bring a firearm onto school property with proper permitting, many local school districts enforce no weapons policies.

In a statement, State College Area School District Director of Communications Chris Rosenblum said the district does not permit firearms on school property — concealed permits or otherwise. The only exception are weapons “under the control of authorized law enforcement personnel” or “a weapon being used as part of a program approved by the school by an individual who is participating in the program,” according to school policy.

“In addition, and in accordance with federal law, possession or discharge of a firearm in, on or within 1,000 feet of school grounds is prohibited,” the policy states. “Violators shall be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency.”

Saying that government officials “took an oath” to “support, defend and obey” the Pennsylvania constitution, Stolfer said passing confiscation laws, regulating firearms and mandating training sessions are not effective or lawful legislation.

Although Stolfer thinks those laws are “completely tragic in the eyes of a constitutional republic,” organizations like Moms Demand Action believe in passing stronger gun laws that work to “close the loopholes that jeopardize the safety of our families,” reads its mission statement.

Last week, Moms Demand Action members gathered in the Capitol Rotunda to show their support for the proposed Extreme Risk Protection Order Bill House Bill 1075 — sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens, R-Montgomery. If passed, the bill would allow a judge to temporarily restrict someone from owning a gun if they pose a risk to themselves or others. Lasting no more than a year, an ERPO does not result in a criminal record. Advocates like Heath Copeland, a veteran and member of Moms Demand Action, said ERPO would result in lower suicide rates in Pennsylvania.

While Stolfer disagrees with restrictive legislation, he also thinks carrying a firearm, knowing the law and learning how to properly handle a gun is something citizens must do on their own.

“With this responsibility comes an importance on their part to make sure that they’re informed on these issues and that they have to be cognizant of the world around them — from safety to proper maintenance to personal training,” Stolfer said.

Attendees are asked to preregister for the event by calling 353-8780.

Marley Parish reports on local government for the Centre Daily Times. She grew up in Slippery Rock and graduated from Allegheny College.