UPDATE: A correction to my earlier post. Apparently it is only legal to point a gun at an animal rights activist in Bucks County - not anyone else. Minutes after I posted the story about the charges in the Warminster incident, a story by my colleague Larry King was posted on philly.com reporting that a man was just sentenced to three months in prison for pulling a gun on a snowblower operator in Bensalem.
Live pigeon shoots are still legal in Pennsylvania and so too apparently - at least in Bucks County - is sticking an automatic weapon in someone's chest on a busy street in broad daylight.
The video below shows what happened during a February confrontation between Steve Hindi, founder of the animal rights group SHARK, and a man working for the owner of a pool company in Warminster. (The individual who owns the pool company also owns Wing Pointe Resort in Berks County - one of the last locales hosting live pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania.)
According to the Doylestown Intelligencer story there were "charges for everyone" - including disorderly conduct for Hindi and his associate Janet Enoch, who was wielding only a camera. Robert Olsen - the man brandishing the gun - also was charged with disorderly conduct, but there were no weapons charges filed against Olsen.
Efforts by the newspaper to reach district attorney David Heckler or the Warminster police to explain this were unsuccessful.
Animal welfare advocates fear the absence of weapons charges for someone threatening an activist sends a chilling message: that anyone angry about people protesting pigeon shooters can turn a gun on them without fear of legal action.
Already we've seen ugly confrontations outside the Philadelphia Gun Club in Bensalem and near Wing Pointe in Hamburg where activists gather - by all accounts peacefully - to document the events and rescue wounded birds.
Veteran pigeon shoot protestors - who recall incidents in years past where they were charged for helping wounded birds - say this harassment, and the tendency of law enforcement to look the other way or charge animal activists is par for the course in Pennsylvania.
The battle to establish that the practice of launching birds from spring-loaded boxes to be shot at close range is a form of animal cruelty that should be banned continues in the courts (in Dauphin County) and n the Capitol where animal advocates are once again pushing against heavy lobbying by the NRA for a bill to ban pigeon shoots once and for all.