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Soccer parents wince at prospect of guns at games
by MONICA VON DOBENECK, Of Our Lebanon County Bureau
Friday October 17, 2008, 10:48 PM
JIM ZENGERLE, The Lebanon Daily NewsIsabella Hain, 5, gives her mother, Meleanie Hain, a hug before heading onto the soccer field on Sept. 23 at Optimist Park in Lebanon. Meleanie Hain's insistance on wearing her loaded Glock 26 to the game has other parents up in arms.
Sharon Gregg-Bolognese, the president of the Central Pennsylvania Youth Soccer League, has been getting an earful from parents and coaches who are worried that people will start packing pistols to their children's soccer games.
In a case that gained national attention, a Lebanon County judge ruled Tuesday that Meleanie Hain should get back her concealed-gun permit, which the county sheriff revoked after Hain openly carried a gun to her 5-year-old daughter's soccer game.
CHRIS KNIGHT, The Patriot-NewsGun owner Meleanie Hain speaks to the media after her gun-permit hearing at the Lebanon County Courthouse in Lebanon on Tuesday.
Since then, dozens of readers have posted comments on PennLive.com either applauding or attacking the ruling and Hain's comments that she will likely continue to carry her gun at her children's soccer games. Comments on the PennLive forum use words such as "arrogant jerk," "idiot," "dufus," "cowards" and "sheepish."
Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association, said he has been consulting with lawyers, but he believes his hands are tied.
"We could put a rule in our books, but we can't enforce it," he said. "We're really kind of powerless."
Gregg-Bolognese suggests clubs check with their school districts and municipalities to see if there are fields where guns can be banned. Guns are generally not allowed on school district property, for instance.
She also tells them to abandon a game if they don't feel safe.
"We don't want kids at risk. Sometimes canceling the game is the only option," she said.
Many people were surprised to find that anybody who is allowed to own a gun -- which is anyone who has passed a criminal background check and is mentally stable -- can openly carry a firearm pretty much anywhere. Permits are required only for concealed weapons.
That includes grocery stores, streets and even the public areas of airports.
"The airport is a public facility like a park or any other public place," said Timothy Edwards, the executive director of Harrisburg International Airport. "You're not screened until you get to the security checkpoint."
Guns are prohibited in courtrooms, prisons and schools.
State regulations have traditionally prohibited guns in state parks, but the Legislature recently voted to overturn that rule. The change is awaiting Gov. Ed Rendell's signature. [Actually, Gov. Rendell already signed the bill, see http://www.nraila.org/Legislation/Read.aspx?ID=4211. -Mike S.]
Several municipal parks prohibit guns, among them those in Derry Twp., Lower Allen Twp. and Upper Allen Twp.
Derry Twp. administrative assistant Lisa Watford said the law has been on the books for at least 24 years, and she doesn't think guns have any place in parks.
According to Deborah Bitting, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities, the constitutional right to bear arms would pre-empt any local gun control laws.
Greg Rotz of Pennsylvania Open Carry said there is even some question about whether guns can be prohibited in schools. The law banning them also says guns may be used "in conjunction with a lawful supervised school activity or course or if possessed for other lawful purpose."
Rotz said the more people openly carry guns, the safer society will be. He hopes the ruling in Lebanon County will encourage more people to carry guns.
When asked what parents should do if they want gun-free soccer games, he answered, "They don't have that right."
Gregg-Bolognese said many of the parents in the central Pennsylvania clubs will not feel safer if someone is carrying a gun at the games.
"There are so many parents who will freak out at this it's not funny," she said.
Staff writer Matt Kemeny contributed to this report.
I tried 5 differnt usernames and all were taken, I gave up.
Will RogersThe thing about common sense is....it ain't too common.
Holy hell! Duct tape alert!
I had no problems with the user name or password until I tried to log on then it kept telling me I was using an incorrect password.
posted comment as furryroo
Gays are prominent members of firearm rights, we do more via the courts, don't like it? Leave.Religious bigots against same sex marriage are not different than white supremacistsI expel anti-gay people off my teams. Tolerance is key to team cohesion and team building.
I was seriously misquoted in the last two bold paragraphs.
Of course, I'm not completely surprised, as I know this can happen. But that being said, this is perhaps the least accurate coverage of my public comments that I've seen yet.
I was able to clarify a few points in the online comments.
I'm all for supporting her, but I'm not interested in registering for a forum in order to do so. They want too much personal information.
But, in the end, I live and therefore I am. I donít need any other personís permission to live or defend myself. I donít need anyoneís vetting of my intentions or sanity, nor approval for the self defense tool I choose or how I carry it.
I donít NEED to explain myself. I donít NEED any reasons at all.
I posted a threadin the PA Forumwith a link to an opinion piece written by a High School Coach. It starts out with the same ol' statement about being "100% pro gun" then goes on to slam open carry and Mrs. Hain.
It allows comments without registration too!