Category Archives: Firearms Law

Another Amici Curiae Brief Filed Against the City of Harrisburg!

Today, another Amici Curiae brief was submitted in the matter of City of Harrisburg, et al., v. U.S. Law Shield of Pennsylvania, LLC, et al., 449 C.D. 2015 by the Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League, American Gun Owners Alliance, Firearm Owners Against Crime, Gun Owners of America/Gun Owners Foundation, Lehigh Valley Tea Party, Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, Pennsylvanians For Self Protection, Pennsylvania State Fish & Game Protective Association, and Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania.

Attorney Jim Smith of the Smith Law Group, LLC filed the brief on behalf of the Amici. You can obtain a copy here.

The Amici, in addition to incorporating the arguments of the Amici Curiae Members of the General Assembly, also raise arguments relating to 1. field preemption for discharge; 2. a violation of 18 Pa.C.S. 6120 being a criminal act, which constitutes official oppression; and 3. that the City should be barred under the Unclean Hands doctrine.

I would like to thank those organizations and Attorney James Smith for standing strong and in steadfast devotion to the protection of Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution and the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution with the Amici Curiae Members of the General Assembly. Together, we will ensure that the Right to Keep and Bear Arms will not be infringed and that the City of Harrisburg will be held accountable for its unlawful and illegal actions.

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PRESS RELEASE: Amici Curiae Brief of Members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly Filed Against the City of Harrisburg

Today, Joshua Prince, Esq., Chief Counsel of the Firearms Industry Consulting Group, a division of Prince Law Offices, P.C., filed an amici curiae brief (or friends of the court brief) on behalf of numerous members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly against the City of Harrisburg, in the matter of City of Harrisburg, et al., v. U.S. Law Shield of Pennsylvania, LLC, et al., 449 C.D. 2015. You can find a copy of the Amici Curiae brief here.

When asked for comment, Chief Counsel declared,

It is a distinct honor and privilege to serve the residents of this Commonwealth by filing this Amici Curiae brief on behalf of numerous Members of the General Assembly, who are ardent supporters and defenders Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution and the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, against the City of Harrisburg and its unlawful and illegal firearm ordinances. Together, we have drawn a line in the sand and made explicitly clear that such conduct will not be condoned nor tolerated.

Please join us in congratulating Chief Counsel Prince in the filing of this Amici Curiae brief on behalf of numerous Members of the General Assembly!

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A Round Table Discussion with ATF

Having had the opportunity to sit around a table with different members of ATF, a few different things were learned.

atf

And don’t worry, the cartoon doesn’t reflect the attitude of those I spoke to.

NFA Branch

In regards to the NFA Branch and processing times, it appears that they are aiming for a processing time of about 90 days for Form 1s and Form 4s. They are currently around the 120 day mark and are working diligently to improve that time. They have gone from 9 to 26 examiners, which should allow them to meet that goal after everyone has been brought up to speed.

Trusts account for the majority of Form 1s and Form 4s that the branch is receiving. I also learned that there is a substantial increase in Form 1 submissions since the introduction of the eForms system. Additionally, the processing times for eForm and paper form submissions are now currently running about the same time, so there is not necessarily any advantage time-wise to utilize the eForms system.

Form-4

Furthermore, I learned that ATF hoped to have had the eForm 4s back by SHOT but they indicated that did not look like it would happen. They are currently in discussions with a contractor regarding the system.

There was also a question asked of the NFA branch in relation to 3D printed parts. The attendee asked if he printed a part, that was technically a NFA firearm, would he need to notify the branch of its creation and/or destruction. The answer was yes, provided the part was functional, it would be controlled by the NFA.

Imports Branch

The Import section fielded a question relating to the “sporting purpose” exemption. Disappointingly, there does not seem to be any hope in the near future for it to be revisited in order to consider such sports as 3-Gun, USPSA, IDPA or other shooting sports.

Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division

I also had the opportunity to sit down with the Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division (FATD).

For Industry Members, if you’re looking to receive a determination on your product, you can expect it to take about 120 days. That means if you WANT a determination on your product prior to SHOT 2016, you need to have your submission to FATD before September.

They did state that they would not give you priority just because your attending SHOT and need a determination prior to it. So you have to get moving on the product and submission now. If you’re an industry member and require a letter with your submission please contact us, as letters for determinations are something we handle on a frequent basis.

USA-1Shot-Cover-670x449

The new product on the block that is catching a lot of attention by the industry seems to be the APS 1 Shot Dynamic Pistol Rest. Having had the opportunity to sit down with FATD and discuss the dynamic pistol rest, I can say several issues have arisen. Contrary to the claims of the company, ATF stated that it has no record of receiving any samples of the product in order to issue a determination. Additionally, FATD stated they welcome a sample to be submitted for a determination. This is in stark contrast to the statement that the company has proffered that ATF will not issue a determination.

The company had stated in a Recoil Web article:

“We asked the ATF their opinion and they had none, as it is not a permanent part of the weapon…”

Furthermore, having shown FATD a picture of the product, I was immediately informed that it was a shoulder stock and ATF had previously ruled on “friction stocks” in other determinations. It would behoove APS to submit a sample to ATF in order to have a formal determination on the product, so that individuals can know whether possession of the product with a handgun would potentially subject them to criminal prosecution or not.

Firearms Industry Operations

Good news for licensees. Is there a topic you want ATF to cover for training? Apparently, you can either call your local field office or headquarters to request a seminar on the particular topic. Furthermore, if you receive or have received conflicting information from your local field office, you may want to contact the Firearms Industry Programs Branch to get a “final determination” on the matter. Of course, I’d recommend you get it in writing, which they stated they usually provide a copy of their decision to the field office as well as the licensee with the question.

ATF 41p

ATF 41P was mentioned several times. The news? ATF is still reviewing comments and there is no news as to when/if they will move forward with any kind of final rule. Additionally there are 4 reviewers for the comments and all of them have been assigned to ATF 41P.

ATF 51P

ATF 51P has had no action as far as the review of comments on it yet.

General Rulemaking

ATF stated that the priority for rulemaking determinations were ATF 41p, ATF 51P and Reporting of Losses of Firearms in Transit.

Federal Firearms Relief

If the appropriations bill is enacted as written, Federal Firearms Relief would become available again, for the first time since 1992. ATF stated that if the appropriations bill is implemented, they do not currently have an action plan in place to address the forecasted river of applications it will receive.

ATF Ruling 2013-5

ATF also stated that it would be entering into rulemaking to clarify the electronic record keeping for FFLS in relation to Ruling 2013-5. Issues that would be addressed include cloud storage, the maintenance of records offsite but on a server and tracking changes in the bound book.

 

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Berks County DA Dismisses Charges in Relation to Putative Domestic Violence

This week, attorney Jorge Pereira, in conjunction with Chief Counsel Joshua Prince, was successful in having the Berks County District Attorney dismiss felony charges against a client in relation to him putatively providing false information on an application to purchase a firearm as a result of a prior conviction, which the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) erroneously contended was related to domestic violence.

In this matter, the client previously pleaded guilty to a crime involving physical contact; however, as documented in all of the court filings in that matter, the physical contact was in relation to a woman who was a former girlfriend at the time the incident occurred.  Pursuant to 18 U.S.C § 921(a)(33)(A), for a crime to constitute domestic violence, it must be “committed by a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabiting with or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian, or by a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim.”

As the client was never married to, shared a child with or cohabited with the victim, and the victim was not a girlfriend of the client at the time, the conviction was not the result of domestic violence. Although the PSP erroneously denied him, the Berks County DA agreed that he was not prohibited under state or federal law, as it was not a crime of domestic violence, and moved to have the charges dismissed.

In these situations, it is imperative to have counsel that understands the subtle differences in the statutory and regulatory law to ensure that your rights are protected. If you, your family members or friends are ever charged with any crimes or have firearms law issues, we are here to help defend YOUR rights. Contact us today!

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Appeal Filed with the PA Supreme Court in Leach v. Commonwealth

On July 20, 2015, the Commonwealth filed a Notice of Appeal with the Commonwealth Court in relation to its decision in Leach, et al. v. Commonwealth, et al., 585 M.D. 2014, regarding the constitutionality of Act 192, which, inter alia, provided for attorney fees and costs, when a municipality violates 18 Pa.C.S. 6120. Today, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court docketed the appeal as 61 MAP 2015. You can find a copy of the docket here.

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FICG/Prince Law Offices, P.C.’s Ninth Bi-Annual Machinegun Shoot – October 17, 2015!

Firearms Industry Consulting Group (FICG)®, a division of Prince Law Offices, P.C., will be hosting our ninth bi-annual machine gun shoot at Eastern Lancaster County Rod and Gun Club on October 17, 2015, in celebration of the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution, and Article 1, Section 21 of the PA Constitution. Eastern Lancaster Rod and Gun Club is located at 966 Smyrna Road, Kinzers, PA 17535. It will start at 11am and go until 4pm. From 11am until 2:30pm, it will be unsuppressed and suppressed fire. From 2:30pm until 4pm, only suppressed fire will be allowed. Come on out an meet FICG Chief Counsel and your PA Gun Attorney, Joshua Prince, as well as, our other FICG attorneys!

Everyone, over 18 years of age, is welcome to attend. We are sorry but the insurer will not allow anyone under 18 to participate. There will be a small area for observers, under the age of 18, to watch the shoot. The only requirement is that you bring a driver’s license and hearing and eye protection. All attendees will be required to sign a waiver.

There will be several dealers and manufacturers in attendance and which will have some unique firearms for rent that you might not otherwise have an opportunity to shoot. We are still waiting for confirmation of the dealers that will be in attendance and will update this blog, as they confirm. While you are welcome to bring your own firearms and ammunition, it will be up to the owner of the firearm as to whether he/she will permit you to use your ammunition in his/her firearm. The FFLs will be bringing ammunition for purchase, if you need additional or if they require certain types of ammunition to be used in their weapon systems.

We expect that several celebrities and politicians will be in attendance. When we are able to confirm their attendance, we will post about who will be attending.

Also, Eastern Lancaster County Rod and Gun will be making food and have drinks available, at extremely reasonable prices. There will be breakfast available again this time starting around 9am! Most attendees at the last shoot couldn’t get over how the Club could make any money on the food sold!

All attendees MUST RSVP. To RSVP via facebook, please go here. If you do not have Facebook or are having difficulty, please contact our Tammy Taylor, at ttaylor@princelaw.com.

We are requiring that each person donate at least $10 to the Eastern Lancaster County Rod and Gun Club for their generous permission to use their range. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

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WARNING: Putative Firearms Attorneys Are On The Rise – Caveat Emptor

In the recent year, we have seen a drastic increase in attorneys purporting to handle firearms law issues; yet, many have not handled a firearms law issue, have stolen our copyrighted content and/or have provided ineffective assistance of counsel to their clients. Accordingly, it is imperative that any prospective client properly vet an attorney prior to executing an engagement letter, let alone, at the time of being in the middle of the criminal process.

Recently, I spoke with an individual who fell prey to one of these firms. He was being prosecuted for making false statements in relation to the purchase of a firearm. His trial was less than a month away and the firm, other than advising him to turn down Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (“ARD” – which would NOT have resulted in a conviction), never filed an Omnibus motion or took any action to provide him with a defense, other than ignorance of the law…which, even non-attorneys are aware, is not a defense. Unfortunately for him, he is looking at substantial veracity charges and the District Attorney may no longer be willing to offer him ARD.

And then, there are those hundreds of clients that I have spoken to in the past year, where they were advised by their criminal defense attorney, sometimes a very esteemed and competent criminal defense attorney, that pleading guilty would not affect their firearm rights. After probation, they attempt to purchase a firearm, are denied and the Pennsylvania State Police brings charges against them for making false statements on the ATF 4473 form. In one such case, even an extremely knowledgeable judge stated on the record during sentencing that although the individual would be prohibited during probation, he would not lose his Second Amendment rights in perpetuity. That individual also attempted to purchase a firearm after being released from probation and was denied…

While I might have generally suggested that an individual start by reviewing the attorney’s or law firm’s website, this past year or so, our copyrighted information was stolen from our website and posted on another law firm’s website, so to convey to a prospective client that the other law firm was substantially experienced in firearms law matters. While it is flattering that the law firm recognized our substantial experience in the Firearms Industry and understood that our information was reliable, the theft of copyrighted information is criminal and there exists substantial civil remedies, as well.

Unfortunately, the theft of our website information was not the extent of other law firms taking our copyrighted materials in an attempt to mislead potential clients. In the last month, we became aware that a different law firm infringed upon our Gun Trust copyright and was selling it for a premium, over the fee that we charge. We also became aware that Attorney David Goldman of http://www.GunTrustLawyer.com recently had his copyrighted gun trust stolen by a competitor in another state.

While not as blatant, as they have at least changed the positioning of words and the sentence structure, some law firms have encroached upon our copyrighted information posted to our blog. It is absolutely amazing when you read our post, next to theirs, which were issued only several hours or days after ours. Again, while it is flattering, infringement on our intellectual property and misleading consumers should not be tolerated.

On a different front, following in our footsteps, some have started to offer seminars to the public on firearms law matters. Unfortunately, we have witnessed many occasions were they provide incorrect legal advice. Of course, the attendee is unaware of the incorrect information and if he/she relies on it to his/her detriment, it will be that individual that ends up being charged criminally.

While we welcome healthy competition, when another law firm elects to infringe upon our intellectual property and provide ineffective assistance of counsel, we cannot sit idly by and permit the consumer from being injured by misrepresentations. Unfortunately, it is difficult for us to provide you with proper questions to ask in this forum, as those other law firms are already reading our blog and will simply devise answers to those questions to completely undermine the credibility of any responses. The best advice that we can provide is to research your attorney, prior to hiring him/her. Review their bio and prior cases litigated, including those specific cases where the attorney is counsel of record. In that vein, see if their website or postings provide links to actual filings and review any relevant filings.  Identify cases and issues where high-profile individuals and entities in the Firearms Industry have retained a particular attorney or firm and where that firm has been authorized to publicly acknowledge its representation of that individual or entity. Ask questions that only someone who lives, breathes and sleeps firearms law will know the answer to. And most importantly, check with your friends and family as to whether they have ever utilized an attorney in the context of a firearms law matter, as there generally is no better referral than from a former client.

If you ever have a firearms law issue, we are more than happy to assist you in the complex maze of state and federal laws and regulations. At Firearms Industry Consulting Group (FICG), our history, blogs and experience in representing those in the Firearms Industry show our steadfast devotion and dedication to protecting Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution and the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. When you want the best representation, we’ll be here to represent you and your grandchildren.

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