In the strange world of Pennsylvania politics...
Just minutes after a Senate panel voted Thursday to ban the shooting of live pigeons, it unanimously recommended a Berks County lawyer - who has been videotaped participating in pigeon shoots - for a county court judgeship.
The Judiciary Committee voted 9-5 to make it illegal to engage in the practice of pigeon shooting - launching live birds from spring-loaded boxes to be shot at close range. Sen. John Rafferty (R., Chester/Montgomery) was among those voting against the bill.
The bill is expected to be considered by the full Senate on Sunday.
For years animal welfare advocates have sought to ban the shoots, while the NRA has fought to preserve them as a "shooting sport tradition." Pennsylvania is the last state where pigeon shoots are openly and regularly practiced - including at the Philadelphia Gun Club in Bucks County.
Shortly after the pigeon vote, Sen. David Argall (R., Berks) stepped forward to recommend A. Joseph Antanavage, a lawyer whose clients include the local state police lodge, for a position on the Berks County Court of Common Pleas.
Capitolwire reporter Kevin Zwick, who was sitting in the audience, did a quick Google search and turned up video of Antanavage participating in pigeon shoots.
The video was posted on a website by the animal welfare group, SHARK, whose campaign to end pigeon shooting in the state received $1 million in funding from the former game show host Bob Barker.
When asked about the votes, Senate majority leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware), smiled and said, "Well that's a coincidence."
Antanavage did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
The pigeon shoot ban was amended to a House bill banning the human consumption of dogs and cats. (An issue that yes, does exist. I wrote about here.)
The pigeon shoots have lingered for years as animal welfare advocates have sought to ban the shoots which take place at a handful of private clubs and the NRA has fought to preserve them as a "shooting sport tradition." (More background here.)
"The Senate took a great leap forward toward ending the scourage of live pigeon shoots in Pennsylvania," said Heidi Prescott, a lobbyist for the Humane Society of the United State.
Pennsylvania is the last state where pigeon shoots are held openly - including at the Philadelphia Gun Club in Bucks County..
Before the vote, Sen. Richard Alloway (R., Adams) made a passionate speech condemning the NRA for attacking him for his support of the bill. (Listen to his remarks here at 19:00 on the video)
He described himself as a "pro Second Amendment guy," a lifelong hunter who eats what he kills.
He called pigeon shooting a "blood sport."
"I reject it," he said.