PA Firearms Law Seminar – November 1, 2014

On November 1st, 2014, Chief Counsel Joshua Prince and Attorney Eric Winter of Firearms Industry Consulting Group (FICG), a division of Prince Law Offices, P.C., in conjunction with King Shooter Supply, will offer a four (4) hour seminar on state and federal firearms law at their store located at  346 E Church Rd, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania 19406.

The cost is $10 and you must register early, as last time it sold out fast. You can download a copy of the registration form, here.  All registrations are to be mailed or dropped off at King Shooter Supply, 346 E Church Rd, King of Prussia PA 19406. If you have questions, please feel free to contact King Shooter Supply at 610-491-9901 .

Leave a comment

Filed under Firearms Law, News & Events

Call to Action – HB 1243 – Strengthening Preemption

I just received notice from Pennsylvania Representative Stephen Bloom that HB 1243, just passed its third consideration in the House by a vote of 143-54. There are only several days left to get this through the Senate and we’re going to need YOUR help!

Emails are insufficient. We’re being outnumbered by 3-1 in calls to Representatives and Senators. We need to change this.

Personal contact by phone calls and snail mail (faxes) are much more effective to get your message to our Senators and then NEED to hear from us.

The contact info for Senate Judiciary Committee is here.

Senator Stewart Greenleaf (R) chairman JC (717) 787-6599 sgreenleaf@pasen.gov
(note Greenleaf is up for re election in 2014 IF Greenleaf is your senator twist arm as required to run HB 1243)

Senator Joseph Scarnati (R) leader of senate – President Pro Tempore (717) 787-7084 everyone must call or fax Senator Scarnati
He is very supportive on Second Amendment issues…. he still needs to hear from US!
jscarnati@pasen.gov

Senator Gene Yaw (R) (717) 787-3280 gyaw@pasen.gov

Senator John Gordner (R) (717) 787-8928 jgordner@pasen.gov

Senator John Eichelberger (R) (717) 787-5490 jeichelberger@pasen.gov

Senator John Rafferty (R) (717) 787-1398 jrafferty@pasen.gov

Senator Randy Vulakovich (R) (717) 787-6538 rvulakovich@pasen.gov

Senator Richard Alloway (R) (717) 787-4651 alloway@pasen.gov

Senator Lisa Boscola (D) (717) 787-4236 boscola@pasenate.com

Senator Andrew Dinniman (D) (717) 787-5709 andy@pasenate.com

Senator Dominic Pileggi (R) (717) 787-4712 swings lots of weight in senate from holding past leadership position of senate dpileggi@pasen.gov

These below on JC probably will not listen unless they are your senators, expect them to vote against HB 1243.

Stress the Rule of Law.

Senator Michael Stack (D) (717) 787-9608 stack@pasenate.com

Senator Daylin Leach (D) (717) 787-5544 dleach@pasenate.com minority chair of JC – past ceasefirepa endorsed candidate going to probably be one of the most vocal against HB 1243 on committee

Senator Wayne Fontana (D) (717) 787-5300 fontana@pasenate.com up for re election in 2014 but has no opponent = no fear factor from voters

Senator Lawrence Farnese (D) (717) 787-5662 farnese@pasenate.com past ceasefirepa endorsed candidate

CALL and/or FAX senators especially Scarnati, Greenleaf, Pileggi (plus others listed) and ask them to pass HB 1243 without any amendments.

Also ask your senator to bug leadership to run HB 1243 as a clean bill

HB 1243 will take at least 3 days in senate for passage.

Getting HB 1243 passed is still do able, but it’s going to take everyone making the extra effort to get this passed in the short time left. Governor Corbett will sign this bill if placed on his desk!

Senator Scarnati as leader of the senate can add more session days IF its required and most importantly IF we make our voices loud enough!

We have the votes for passage in the senate is just a matter of making them feel the heat and making HB 1243 a priority for quick passage with such short session time left.

PLEASE do your part and get HB 1243 passed by the Senate as a clean bill.

Thanks to FOAC (Firearm Owners Against Crime) for the above information.

2 Comments

Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law

Some Positive News from . . . New Jersey?

I am happy to report that New Jersey’s Attorney General, John Hoffman, has issued a new directive in response to the unnerving practice of NJ prosecutors to fully prosecute individuals for relatively minor infractions and misunderstandings of New Jersey’s firearms laws.  In response to outrage over the case of Shaneen Allen – the Pennsylvania woman charged with possession of a firearm in Atlantic County, NJ last year – Attorney General Hoffman released a directive on September 24, 2014, directing prosecutors not to seek prison terms for individuals merely for unlawfully possessing a firearm.

In the directive, Attorney General Hoffman states that “in the absence of case-specific aggravating circumstances, these defendants should not be sentenced to incarceration,” since “imprisonment is neither necessary nor appropriate to serve the interests of justice and protect public safety.”  Rather than seek harsh penalties – a minimum of 3 1/2 years under the Graves Act – prosecutors are instructed to do one of two things: (1) accept an offer of pretrial intervention (PTI) or (2) “tender an initial plea offer that authorizes the court upon conviction to impose a non-custodial probationary sentence.”

As the law stood between 2008 – when the Graves Act was modified – and the time of this Directive, a prosecutor had sole discretion as to admit a Graves Act defendant to PTI, and the bar was set high: a showing of compelling and extraordinary reasons was required to avoid normal prosecution.  Whether the Graves Act defendant received a shortened prison term or probation also was entirely within the realm of the prosecutor’s discretion.

The recent Directive directs prosecutors to offer PTI if there are no aggravating factors or, if the prosecutor finds PTI inappropriate, it all but mandates a prosecutor to make the plea offer for a non-prison sentence.

Importantly, there are three criteria for this Directive to apply: (1) the firearm was lawfully acquired in another jurisdiction; (2) possession of the firearm, under the same circumstances, would have been lawful in the individual’s jurisdiction; and (3) the individual was mistaken in believing that he or she was lawfully in possession in New Jersey.

In addition to the above factors, in order to gain PTI, the prosecutor must consider the following:

(1) the level of the firearm’s exposure to New Jersey residents would be minimal (i.e was it stored in a trunk or carried on the person in public, and whether the firearm was loaded);

(2) criminal history and/or any other crimes occurring at the moment (i.e. was the possession discovered because the individual was pulled over for a headlight violation, or was the person engaged in a drug deal or assault?);

(3) volunteering the information (as in the Allen case);

(4) checking the firearm in for safe-keeping (for example, checking the firearm into a hotel front desk demonstrates the lack of intent to do harm and the genuine mistake as to NJ firearms law);

(5) did the individual actually know that he or she was in violation of New Jersey law by carrying the firearm?

While certainly less than perfect, and still subject to a fair amount of prosecutorial discretion, this is a step in the right direction for New Jersey.

Leave a comment

Filed under Firearms Law

The Legal Issues of the Eric Frein Manhunt

As our viewers are likely aware, several of our recent blogs (mainly my own) regarding the Eric Frein manhunt have resulted in some controversy. Prince Law Offices has always stood by the rule of law and the Constitution. It is in that spirit that the blog articles at the heart of this controversy, and this response, were written.

At Prince Law Offices, we believe that our legal system, of which the Constitution is the heart, exists both to prosecute those who commit crimes and to protect the civil and natural rights of the citizens. Sometimes, those two goals come into conflict with one another, as they have here. The Pennsylvania State Police are operating to catch and prosecute the suspect of a capital crime. They should fully utilize the resources provided them under the law to pursue and arrest the suspect, who will then be afforded an opportunity to defend himself before a judge and jury. Let us not forget that, as of now, he is a suspect and no matter what evidence has been presented by the media or the police, the foundation of our criminal justice system is that everyone receives the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. It is for precisely situations such as this that the protections of the Constitution exist, and Prince Law Offices proudly stands by its dedication and commitment to protecting the Constitutional rights of all citizens.

While the State Police are clearly working to execute their mandate to enforce the criminal laws of the Commonwealth, our concern is they are neglecting the other side of the equation – the protection of all citizens’ Constitutional and natural rights. As one of the 13 colonies that would become the United States, Pennsylvanians have already lived in a society that authorized Writs of Assistance – that is, warrants that informed citizens what the government could look for, but authorized searches anywhere it would be possible for that person or item to be. These Writs of Assistance required no element of the probability of finding the particular item or person – it merely needed to be possible that the person or item sought could be in the location searched.

The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that broad-based searches, based on nothing more than the possibility of recovering the suspect or evidence of a crime, is not constitutional. In the 1920’s, for example, when organized crime was rising due to Prohibition and violent gangsters like Al Capone were routinely avoiding jail time, the Supreme Court still held that “[i]t would be intolerable and unreasonable if a [police officer] were authorized to stop every automobile on the chance of finding liquor, and thus subject all persons lawfully using the highways to the inconvenience and indignity of such a search.” Later in that case – Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132, 153-54 (1925) – the Court stated that “those lawfully . . . entitled to use the public highways, have a right to free passage without interruption or search unless there is . . . probable cause for believing that their vehicles are carrying contraband[.]” Id., at 154.

It must be noted that the Court was concerned not only with inconveniences, but with the dignity of the individual citizen. While many commentators have pointed out that the residents of Monroe and Pike County are only encountering inconveniences, we feel that the greater issue concerns the dignity of the citizen. In America, we all have the right to be free from suspicion until probable cause arises to cast that light upon us. Allowing indiscriminate searches of citizens casts the shadow of suspicion upon us all and elevates the power of the government over the citizen. The State Police actions in their search for Eric Frein are by no means the only example of this, but it is our duty as citizens – and particularly attorneys – to ensure that the civil dignity of the individual citizen is preserved.

Many people have commented that this is an exigent circumstance, requiring such measures as roadblocks, random searches, curfews, etc. The law, however, says otherwise. An exigent circumstance is one in which the police do not have time to get a warrant. Thus, the U.S. Supreme Court held in 1978 that “a warrantless search must be strictly circumscribed by the exigencies which justify its initiation.” Mincey v. Arizona, 437 U.S. 385, 393 (1978). A search cannot occur based on efficiency and convenience alone, for as the Supreme Court rightly held, “[t]he investigation of crime would always be simplified if warrants were unnecessary.” Id. The Court held that a “four-day search . . . can hardly be rationalized in terms of the legitimate concerns that justify an emergency search,” even when the investigation is for a homicide. Id., at 393-94.

The State Police have been searching this area for two weeks. And while we applaud the fact that many recent searches have been conducted pursuant to valid warrants, that fact does not excuse the warrantless searches without probable cause of individual cars and homes. The police do not have the authority to follow the law when it is convenient and to skirt it when inconvenient. Perhaps this hampers the investigation; but if so, this is how our legal system was designed. If we are to protect our rights and dignity as citizens, we must demand that all citizens respect the Constitution. It cannot be forgotten that the Constitution expressly limits the ability of the government to act and that the State Police is the agency of the government tasked with executing that action.

The urge can be great to say: “This is different. This is an emergency and the public safety is at risk.” We can certainly understand the fear with which people in the affected area are experiencing, and our intentions are not to interfere with a police investigation. Nor are they in any way supportive of Eric Frein, who, if it is determined by a court that he was responsible for the shooting, should be punished accordingly. Our intention is to ensure that while the police attempt to uphold one aspect of the law – finding and prosecuting a murder suspect – that they respect the other goal of the legal system – the protection of civil rights.

It would be appropriate to include here that police officers are not, contrary to many people’s expectations, required to protect any individual. The U.S. Supreme Court, in DeShaney v. Winnebago County Dep’t of Social Services, 489 U.S. 189, 195 (1989) held that the government is under absolutely no obligation to protect any individual citizen: “[N]othing in the Due Process Clause itself requires the State to protect the life, liberty, and property of its citizens against invasion by private actors.” Thus, there is “no affirmative right to governmental aid, even where such aid may be necessary to secure life, liberty, or property . . .” Id., at 196.

The end here (finding a murder suspect) is important. But the means must be within the boundaries of the law. For what is the purpose or strength of a legal system which allows the breaking of one law in order to enforce another? Who becomes the arbiter of what law may be broken in support of another? And when is that decision made? Are we to grant the individual police officers that power? The Chief of Police? The Governor? And, just as concerning, what does that say about the overall rule of law? If those in charge of upholding the law may decide the utility of any law in a given situation, then what strength does the law really have?

This brings us to the issue of the State Police’s authorization for troopers to kill the suspect if he refuses surrender. (Reported in The Morning Call Sept. 23). The language is important: the order is not “shoot Frein if he presents a danger to police or anyone else.” The order states that the only exception to the authorization of deadly force is if he is “actively surrendering.” This is not legal semantics at play – this is the difference between a legal system and a police state. Of course the police may use deadly force to protect against a deadly threat – so may any individual. But authorizing the police to shoot a suspect on sight, without any need to justify that by an imminent threat to officer safety, is truly frightening and justifies our concerns with the way this investigation and search is being handled.

From the larger perspective, this is perhaps the most concerning of all the developments. Eric Frein is believed to have murdered a police officer and seriously wounded another. Since then, there have been no allegations that he has injured anyone else. There is evidence, as reported by the UK Daily Mail, that Frein believed his sister-in-law was having an affair with the wounded trooper. The State Police has stated that an investigation turned up no evidence of the affair, but the important part is that Frein may very well have believed it to be the case. This is not to excuse, in any way, Frein’s alleged actions. This information is extremely important, however, in determining whether he is a threat to the community and the Police in particular. If he targeted an individual for personal revenge, then he is no more dangerous than any other wanted murderer, the search for whom entire communities are not cordoned off and randomly searched.

It is hard not to conclude that the State Police are conducting such an extensive search primarily because the murder victim was a fellow officer. Lehigh Valley Live admitted as much: “[I]t’s undeniable that state police and FBI wouldn’t be casting such an intrusive dragnet for a civilian wanted for murdering another civilian.” We can sympathize with the human desire to defend one’s family, and police officers certainly form a familial bond. But what is unique and exceptional about our Constitution and legal system is precisely that we do not place government authorities above other “civilians.” We are all citizens. Donning a uniform – while granting certain temporary powers prescribed by law – does not transform an individual into more than a civilian. The law applies to us all equally. The fact that the State Police feel a greater need to pursue a suspected murderer who killed a fellow officer than a suspected murderer who killed a mere “civilian” obliterates the objectivity with which much of the respect and authority of the police is based upon. Establishing respect for the law starts with those tasked with upholding it. Making exceptions because of one’s status as a police officer can only harm respect for the law.

Finally, I would like to address the allegations that our attorneys are only interested in exploiting a situation to make money. This is some distance from the truth. For example, I recently successfully represented the Sheriff of Perry County in a lawsuit brought by county auditors who sought confidential information. In addition, I provide pro-bono law enforcement firearms law seminars, so that law enforcement officers are informed of the firearms law in the Commonwealth, so to ensure that they do not end up a Defendant in a civil rights lawsuit. Every winter, the firm hosts an all-day event within the community to provide food and warmth to the indigent.

Indeed, if Prince Law was concerned primarily with financial gain, civil rights litigation would not be a primary focus. Rather, Prince Law is concerned with the protection of our Constitutional rights. This is why our attorneys conduct seminars on firearms and civil rights – frequently several hours long, on the weekend – without any form of compensation. Finally, the contention that Prince Law is only trying to “make a buck” necessarily implies that there are civil rights abuses occurring in Monroe and Pike County; for if Prince Law were to “greedily” work on a contingent basis, the firm would only make money by winning a claim. And Prince Law would only win the case if there were merit to the belief that the State Police have not followed the Constitution.

16 Comments

Filed under Constitutional Law

Landlord-Tenant: Brief Overview

A residential lease is where the landlord and tenant enter into a contract to lease premises, real property, for the sole purpose of living. The real property is used as a home.

The classic example of a lease is for an apartment. The lease can also be for a house or mobile home.

The lease is a contact between the landlord and tenant for the tenant or tenants to live in a home, apartment, or mobile home.

Almost everything that is created, memorialized, between parties—legally created—is bound by contractual law and equitable remedies and a lease is not excluded. The lease terms should follow the Landlord Tenant Act and its progeny. Depending on the facts one would also be liable with a Tort action. See Pugh v. Holmes, 486 Pa. 272, 405 A.2d 897 (1979); Staley v. Bovril, 553 Pa. 112, 718 A.2d 283 (1998); “The Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951.” 68 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 250.101

All residential leases include the implied warranty of habitability and the covenant of quiet enjoyment, simply meaning a tenant, or tenants have a right to live in a healthy, habitable, and safe environment, and to enjoy, possess, the leases premises without disturbances.

Usually, a lease is made for a term of one year. At the end of the year, the tenant is given the option to renew. If, there is no renewal, or nothing done by the landlord before the renewal, or all parties (Landlord and Tenant) remain silent and the tenant stays, the lease becomes a Month-to-Month lease, and it is the custom that the previous terms of the lease are followed.

On the other hand, once the lease term is up, whatever the term is for, the landlord does not have to renew the lease and the tenant would have to vacate, hopefully peacefully—there is no self-help eviction in Pennsylvania.

Both the landlord and tenant or tenants have rights and duties. The leased premises must be kept in good condition, the condition it was at the time of the lease, at minimum.

Any problems, repairs needs, bug problems, etc., with the lease premises should be conveyed to the landlord in writing. The landlord will have a reasonable amount of time to cure, fix the problems. However, if after a reasonable amount of time has passed, a reasonable amount of time would depend on the problem, and the landlord has not cured the problem, depending on how the problem effected the leased premises, either all or part of the premises, the tenant would be evicted or constructive evicted from parts of the leased premises, and could withhold rent by paying rent when it is due each month to the prothonotary located at the main courthouse where you live. The rent would be held in escrow. The tenant would then have to file a complaint with the Magisterial District Justice in order to prove that the Landlord violated the lease by not curing, fulfilling his or her duty to keep the leases premises in good repair, a habitable, safe, and sanitary—no bug infestations, heat in the winter, no black mold, etc.

With a residential lease, in order for the landlord to evict the tenant written notice to vacate, quit, eviction, must be either posted on the leased premises or hand delivered to the tenant. The notice must include the reason for eviction. For a lease of lease than one year a notice to quit must be served upon the tenant and from time of service has fifteen (15) days

A landlord must file a notice to quit to regain possession of real property excluding mobile homes … “(1) Upon the termination of a term of the tenant, (2) or upon forfeiture of the lease for breach of its conditions, (3) or upon the failure of the tenant, upon demand, to satisfy any rent reserved and due.” . . . “in case of the expiration of a term or of a forfeiture for breach of the conditions of the lease where the lease is for any term of one year or less or for an indeterminate time, the notice shall specify that the tenant shall remove within fifteen days from the date of service thereof, and when the lease is for more than one year, then within thirty days from the date of service thereof. In case of failure of the tenant, upon demand, to satisfy any rent reserved and due, the notice shall specify that the tenant shall remove within ten days from the date of the service thereof.” 68 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 250.501.

“In case of the expiration of a term or of a forfeiture for breach of the conditions of the lease involving a tenant of a mobile home park as defined in the ‘Mobile Home Park Rights Act,’ where the lease is for any term of less than one year or for an indeterminate time, the notice shall specify that the tenant shall remove within thirty days from the date of service thereof, and when the lease is for one year or more, then within three months from the date of service thereof. In case of failure of the tenant, upon demand, to satisfy any rent reserved and due, the notice, if given on or after April first and before September first, shall specify that the tenant shall remove within fifteen days from the date of the service thereof, and if given on or after September first and before April first, then within thirty days from the date of the service thereof.” 68 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 250.501

Remember, this is a brief and general overview of Landlord-Tenant Law. It is very simple to start the process by filing a complaint with MDJ where you live, whether one is a landlord or tenant, but it is always better to have an attorney on you side, especially if there is an appeal since that is when it really gets complicated.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Mutual Consent Divorce

A brief overview of a Mutual Consent Divorce.

The fastest and cheapest way to get divorced is with a no fault divorce. There are several ways to get divorced. One can get divorced on no fault grounds, or fault grounds, or on both no fault and fault grounds.

If, you and you soon to be ex-spouse are in mutual agreement that you both want a divorce, as long as you are in agreement about everything, than a Mutual Consent divorce is the way to go.

It is no secret that attorneys get paid for their work. But, remember, in the realm of Family Law, the more one fights, the more it costs.

Courts do not like to grant divorces, when property issues are not settled—Equitable Distribution, a blog for another day.

For a Mutual Consent divorce, with no other issues, one must first file a complaint seeking a no fault divorce on the ground of Mutual Consent, and usually always adding the ground of irretrievable breakdown and serve it by sending the complaint certified mail and regular mail, or have your soon to be ex-spouse sign an affidavit of service accepting service then file the form, a certificate of service, with the prothonotary. No answer is needed, since all averments, in the Family Law arena are deemed denied.

Both parties must wait ninety (90) days after the complaint was filed and served then file their Affidavit of Consent for Mutual Consent divorces. Usually a Notice of intention to request entry of divorce decree, which must be served on the other party, or file a Waiver of Notice of intention to request entry of divorce decree, is filed along with the Affidavit of Consent.

If, both parties chooses to file the Waiver of Notice of intention to request entry of divorce decree, no service is necessary and the one who initially filed the complaint, would then transmit the record along with an Order for a Decree of divorce and once the Judge signs off, you are divorced.

Depending on what county you live, there may be additional steps to take under the local rules before a Mutual Consent divorce is granted.

Besides Mutual Consent there are several grounds or divorce. There are six grounds for a fault divorce, and one can also state more than one ground for divorce if necessary.

The fault divorce grounds are

“(a) Fault.–The court may grant a divorce to the innocent and injured spouse whenever it is judged that the other spouse has:

(1) Committed willful and malicious desertion, and absence from the habitation of the injured and innocent spouse, without a reasonable cause, for the period of one or more years.

(2) Committed adultery.

(3) By cruel and barbarous treatment, endangered the life or health of the injured and innocent spouse.

(4) Knowingly entered into a bigamous marriage while a former marriage is still subsisting.

(5) Been sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two or more years upon conviction of having committed a crime.

(6) Offered such indignities to the innocent and injured spouse as to render that spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome.” See 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 3301 (a) Fault.

The no fault grounds for divorces are:

“(b) Institutionalization.–The court may grant a divorce from a spouse upon the ground that insanity or serious mental disorder has resulted in confinement in a mental institution for at least 18 months immediately before the commencement of an action under this part and where there is no reasonable prospect that the spouse will be discharged from inpatient care during the 18 months subsequent to the commencement of the action. A presumption that no prospect of discharge exists shall be established by a certificate of the superintendent of the institution to that effect and which includes a supporting statement of a treating physician.

(c) Mutual consent.–The court may grant a divorce where it is alleged that the marriage is irretrievably broken and 90 days have elapsed from the date of commencement of an action under this part and an affidavit has been filed by each of the parties evidencing that each of the parties consents to the divorce.

(d) Irretrievable breakdown.–

(1) The court may grant a divorce where a complaint has been filed alleging that the marriage is irretrievably broken and an affidavit has been filed alleging that the parties have lived separate and apart for a period of at least two years and that the marriage is irretrievably broken and the defendant either:

(i) Does not deny the allegations set forth in the affidavit.

(ii) Denies one or more of the allegations set forth in the affidavit but, after notice and hearing, the court determines that the parties have lived separate and apart for a period of at least two years and that the marriage is irretrievably broken.

(2) If a hearing has been held pursuant to paragraph (1)(ii) and the court determines that there is a reasonable prospect of reconciliation, then the court shall continue the matter for a period not less than 90 days nor more than 120 days unless the parties agree to a period in excess of 120 days. During this period, the court shall require counseling as provided in section 3302 (relating to counseling). If the parties have not reconciled at the expiration of the time period and one party states under oath that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court shall determine whether the marriage is irretrievably broken. If the court determines that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court shall grant the divorce. Otherwise, the court shall deny the divorce.” See 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 3301 (b)(c)(d).

Once grounds for divorce under a Mutual Consent, or Irretrievable breakdown is established, no hearing is required and the divorce will be granted. See 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 3301 (e)

As stated previously, the fastest cheapest divorce is a Mutual Consent divorce with no other issues or with all issues settled. The more you fight, the more it costs.

It is your choice to do it yourself, but it is always better to get an attorney…

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Uproar

I must admit that I’m surprised by the vitriol arising from Joshua’s recent post about State Police action in Pennsylvania. Our staff has received death threats. Can you believe it? Death threats because we expressed an opinion contrary to theirs and in support of the Constitution. While we defend their right to free speech, and allow their negative posts to appear on our privately owned blog, their favorite epitaph for our firm seems to be “scumbags.” While most news references have been positive or neutral, those who criticize would be the first in line to cry out publicly if they were denied press access to the very same dwellings. Nonetheless, we would also support their mantra for “freedom of the press.”

It’s pretty obvious that most of the objections come from those who do not frequent our blog, and apparently don’t care about any constitutional rights. In fact, most don’t even live in Pennsylvania. What I don’t understand is where they would draw the line. In the past year, we have seen our Government abandon our brave defenders and lie about their actions to protect their political careers. The IRS has singled out a group with political views contrary to those of the current administration for delays and audits. In fact, we recently endured an unheard of audit; could that have resulted from Joshua’s political positions? When the IRS was confronted about their actions, they attempted to destroy evidence. We the people have suffered an unending barrage of attacks on our constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms, mostly by those waving a banner of unsupported facts and assumptions.

Of course, facts mean little to the liberals on attack, while assumptions that support their cause rein supreme. The murder Corporal Bryon K. Dickson is a tragedy and without question, the perpetrator must be brought to justice! While many are willing to lay down their rights to secure his capture and death, when did Mr. Fein give up his presumption of innocence? Why does everyone assume that Mr. Fein is indeed the perpetrator? Only one reason; because the State Police and press told us so. They’ve led us to believe he’s a crazed murderer wrecking havoc in neighboring communities, justifying their actions. In fact, it’s recently been revealed that the actual target may have been Trooper Alex T. Douglass, and Corporal Dickson was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Why is this important? Well it appears that Trooper Douglass might have been having an affair with Mr. Frein’s wife. If true, that absolutely does not justify Mr. Frein’s actions if he is indeed the perpetrator. It makes it no less tragic. What it does raise is the question of whether the actions by the State Police are justifiable, truthful, and well measured. If true, then Mr. Frein is not an apparent threat to the local citizens, as the State Police have already acknowledged in their original statements. He is not even an offensive threat to the authorities, although I fear some may be injured in his pursuit.

Just yesterday, Lt. Col. Bivens of the Pennsylvania State Police stated: “Lethal force is authorized upon positive identification if he is not actively surrendering,” (http://abc13.com/news/accused-cop-killer-repeatedly-appears-then-eludes-manhunt/322722/). What happen to his right to trial? When did we give the State Police the right to be judge and jury? Or are they really trying to keep him quiet to protect the reputation of the troop? Maybe revenge for his actions? These thoughts are no more absurd than the image of Mr. Frein presented by the State Police and the assumptions they have made. Where’s Attorney General Holder and Mr. Sharpton?

Lastly, a word to those who believe we are “police haters” or just out to make a fee. You obviously don’t know us although, like Lt. Col. Bivens, you’re jumping to conclusions without any of the facts. Joshua frequently presents seminars for local police forces on gun law, without compensation. Most recently, Joshua defended the Sheriff of Perry County when sued by the local auditors, without compensation. We are staunch supporters of law enforcement, but that will not dissuade us from putting citizens first when they are wrong. The actions of Troop N of the Pennsylvania State Police are simply wrong. When the police authorities are wrong, we have only two choices, revolt,

Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of the citizens to keep and bear arms. [...] the right of the citizens to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government and one more safeguard against a tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible. – Hubert Humphrey

or a law suit. Each individual victim of Troop N’s actions will find it difficult to seek redress as their individual loss, while present, may not exceed the costs of suit. There are not many attorneys truly qualified or willing to bring such a suit, but Joshua wanted the citizens to know that if their rights were violated, we would not turn them away. This is a far better solution than revolution. We do NOT want anyone to raise a gun in defense of their home. We want them to know there are alternatives.

As Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

19 Comments

Filed under Constitutional Law