No bartering your kids. And no firing a paintball gun with someone who isn’t playing paintball. Got it?
BY: SPECIAL TO THE CAPITAL-STAR – FEBRUARY 6, 2022 7:32 AM
The Capitol building in Harrisburg (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)
By Harrison Cann
Every state has its share of archaic, weird and outdated laws, and Pennsylvania is certainly no exception. Here in the commonwealth, there are bizarre laws at the statewide and local levels, and although many of them aren’t enforced, some still remain on the books. Particularly at the municipal level, old statutes and ordinances are kept in place because the repeal process can be time-consuming and expensive.
Here are some of the zaniest laws that are still in place in Pennsylvania. You might’ve broken one without even knowing.
You’re banned from bartering your children. That should go without saying.
We bet you didn’t see this coming. Fortune telling for personal gain is illegal.
Better not hunt big game when the animal is swimming, or risk drowning in fines.
No accidents here. Your bedroom can’t be more than 200 feet from your bathtub, shower or toilet.
Game on? A person is prohibited from firing a paintball gun at another who is not playing paintball.
Don’t be left on the hook. Fishers must not use goldfish, comets, koi and common carp as bait.
State Blue Laws, a/k/a “Sunday Laws,” were established to stop activities from taking place on Sundays for religious or secular reasons. Here are two that didn’t stand the test of time:
Old blue laws prohibited sports, musical and theatrical performances before 1 p.m. on Sundays. But after further review, the play stands.
When our nation shall so abjure the principles of its government as to enact a Sunday law, Protestantism will in this act join hands with popery.—Testimonies for the Church 5:712 (1889).
Protestants will throw their whole influence and strength on the side of the papacy. By a national act enforcing the false sabbath they will give life and vigor to the corrupt faith of Rome, reviving her tyranny and oppression of conscience.—Maranatha, 179 (1893).
Sooner or later Sunday laws will be passed.—The Review and Herald, February 16, 1905.
Soon the Sunday laws will be enforced, and men in positions of trust will be embittered against the little handful of God’s commandment-keeping people.—Manuscript Releases 4:278 (1909).
The prophecy of Revelation 13 declares that the power represented by the beast with lamblike horns shall cause “the earth and them which dwell therein” to worship the papacy—there symbolized by the beast “like unto a leopard”…. This prophecy will be fulfilled when the United States shall enforce Sunday observance, which Rome claims as the special acknowledgment of her supremacy….
Political corruption is destroying love of justice and regard for truth, and even in free America rulers and legislators, in order to secure public favor, will yield to the popular demand for a law enforcing Sunday observance.—The Great Controversy, 578, 579, 592 (1911). LDE 128.2 – LDE 129.3
Pump the brakes on car sales, too. Those transactions are off limits on Sundays as well.
The state is not alone in drafting archaic rules. Municipal regulations can get weird, and often remain active regardless of enforcement:
In Bensalem, bingo is only for non-felons. You’d only be able to play B4 you were locked up.
Hold your horses if you’re in Tarentum. It’s illegal to tie a horse (but not a dog) to a parking meter or streetlight pole.
Harrison Cann is a reporter for City & State Pa., where this story first appeared.
Satan puts his interpretation upon events, and they think, as he would have them, that the calamities which fill the land are a result of Sundaybreaking. Thinking to appease the wrath of God these influential men make laws enforcing Sunday observance.—Manuscript Releases 10:239 (1899).
This very class put forth the claim that the fast-spreading corruption is largely attributable to the desecration of the so-called “Christian sabbath” and that the enforcement of Sunday observance would greatly improve the morals of society. This claim is especially urged in America, where the doctrine of the true Sabbath has been most widely preached.—The Great Controversy, 587 (1911). LDE 129.4 – LDE 129.5