Category Archives: Firearms Law

Settlement in Philadelphia Class Action Lawsuit Regarding Disclosure of Confidential LTCF Information

I am proud to announce that a settlement has been reached with the City of Philadelphia in the matter of John Doe, et al.,  v. City of Philadelphia, et al, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas docket no. 121203785, stemming from the City’s posting and disclosing of what we alleged was confidential license to carry firearms (LTCF) information. You can download a copy of the Press Release - here. This was a collaborative effort between Benjamin R. Picker, Esquire of McCausland Keen & Buckman, Jonathan Goldstein, Esquire of McNelly & Goldstein, LLC, Jon Mirowitz, Esquire, and myself.

As a result of the Settlement, the City will pay $1.425 million to the class and will be separately responsible for the costs of administering the settlement. Further, and of similar importance, the City has agreed to a number of policy changes, which can be found starting on page 11 of the Settlement Agreement, including:

  1. Not to disclose LTCF applicant information either electronically or in-person;
  2. Annual training of the Philadelphia Police Department and Philadelphia License and Inspection Board of Review on the confidentiality of LTCF applicant information;
  3. Customer service training for the Philadelphia Gun Permit Unit;
  4. Posting a copy of the LTCF Application Notice on its website and where LTCF applications and appeals can be submitted or obtained, as well as, providing a copy to anyone who has his/her LTCF denied or revoked;
  5. The City will not require references on the LTCF application and will not contact any references listed on the LTCF application;
  6. The City will not require lawful immigrants or US Citizens with a US Passport to provide naturalization papers;
  7. The City will not require any applicant to disclose whether he/she owns a firearm during the LTCF application process;
  8. The City will not deny an application because the applicant answered “no” to any question regarding whether the applicant had been charged/convicted of any crime where the applicant received a pardon or expungement from the charge or conviction;
  9. The City will process all LTCF applications within 45 calendar days;
  10. The City will remit $15.00 to any applicant who is denied within 20 days;
  11. The City will not require LTCF applicants or holders to disclose to law enforcement that they have an LTCF, that they are carrying a firearm or that they have a firearm in the vehicle; and
  12. The City will not confiscate an LTCF or firearm, unless there is probable cause that the LTCF or firearm is evidence of a crime. In the event an LTCF or firearm is confiscated, the officer must immediately provide a property receipt, which shall include the pertinent information

A copy of the signed and filed Settlement Agreement can be downloaded – here. Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Jacqueline Allen has signed an Order preliminarily approving the terms of settlement, which you can download – here. A copy of the Second Amended Complaint can be downloaded – here.

 

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Preliminary Objections Filed Against the Perry County Auditors’ Complaint

For those of you following the declaratory action that was filed against Perry County Sheriff Carl Nace by the Perry County Auditors, Firearms Industry Consulting Group (FICG) Chief Counsel Joshua Prince has filed preliminary objections to the Complaint on behalf of Sheriff Nace. You can download a copy of them – here. When a hearing date is set, we will let you know, so that you can come out and support Sheriff Nace!

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Trop Gun Shop Club Meet & Greet!

Trop Gun Shop is hosting a Networking Meet & Greet in their new Club at the Trop Gun Shop,  910 North Hanover St. Elizabethtown, PA 17022, on Monday, July 14, 2014, from 5-7pm. This is a great opportunity to come out, check out the new club, state-of-the-art indoor range and Trop Gun Shop, while networking with like-minded individuals. I will be there, as well as others from the Firearms Industry Consulting Group, a division of Prince Law Offices, P.C.

The event is RSVP. If you would like to attend, please contact Karen Diehl, Club Liaison, at 717 367-5585 x 1104 or theclub@tropgun.com. I look forward to seeing all of you out there!

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Chief Counsel Joshua Prince to Represent Perry County Sheriff Carl Nace

It is with extreme honor and privilege that we announce that Chief Counsel Joshua Prince of the Firearms Industry Consulting Group (FICG), a division of Prince Law Offices, P.C., has been retained as special counsel to Perry County Sheriff Carl Nace in relation to a recent lawsuit filed against Sheriff Nace by the Perry County Auditors demanding that he disclose confidential license to carry firearms (LTCF) applicant information in violation of the law. As readers of our blog are aware from previous blogs by Attorney Prince, Sheriff Nace has stood steadfast in his refusal to turn over the information and even the Perry County Commissioners support Sheriff Nace in this matter.

When he learned that the Auditors had filed suit against Sheriff Nace, Attorney Prince offered his time pro-bono to represent Sheriff Nace because of the issue involved and his experience litigating the confidentiality provisions of Section 6111(i). When asked for comment, Attorney Prince simply stated “I’m honored to be acting as special counsel to Sheriff Nace and look forward to a speedy resolution of this matter in his favor.”

Please join us in supporting Sheriff Nace in his steadfast dedication to the protection of our rights!

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Pennsylvania Has Its Own Firearm!

Today, Governor Corbett signed HB 1989 into law; thereby, making the Pennsylvania Long Rifle the official firearm of the Commonwealth! I previously blogged about this last week, here. In signing HB 1989 into law, it also made the Piper J-3 Cub the official state aircraft of Pennsylvania.

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Perry County Auditor’s Complaint Against Sheriff Nace

As many of our readers are aware, recently the Perry County Auditors filed suit against Sheriff Nace in an attempt to force him to disclose confidential license to carry firearms (LTCF) applicant information, even though the Perry County Board of Commissioners came out in support of Sheriff Nace. Thanks to an assist by a member of  Perry County Stands Behind Sheriff Carl Nace, I was able to obtain a copy of the Complaint filed against Sheriff Nace. You can download a copy here.

In the Complaint, the Auditors have the audacity to state that

The Auditors cannot perform their statutory duties under 16 P.S. §§ 1721(a) and 1724 to audit the Sheriff’s receipt and disbursement of application fees for licenses to carry firearms unless the Auditors review the original, unredacted records where the Sheriff records the receipt and disbursement of such fees. (emphasis added).

How they can claim that they are unable to perform their duty without the actual names and addresses is beyond comprehension, as Sheriff Nace offered them the redacted receipt and disbursement ledger but which contained all the financial information. It would seem that they have far more nefarious purposes in requiring the names and addresses of LTCF holders; something that will not be forgotten next election cycle. (By the way, why does Perry County need three auditors? Just wondering….)

In continues on

Prior to year 2013, the Sheriff provided the Auditors with access to these original, unredacted records so that the Auditors could conduct the audits required by 16 P.S. §§ 1721(a) and 1724.

While I understand that Sheriff Nace disputes this point, haven’t the Auditors, through their counsel and the Verification page, just admitted to violating 18 Pa.C.S. § 6111(i)? Given there is a 6 year statute of limitation and based upon the PSP’s Annual Report for 2012, there were 1,851 LTCF applications/renewals processed in Perry County, at $1,000 per disclosure plus attorney fees, it would seem that they just admitted to a multi-million dollar violation of the Uniform Firearms Act. One can find the PSP’s Annual Reports for other years, here. Whoopsie….

It is somewhat humorous to see them attempt to argue that it isn’t a disclosure in their Complaint because it is ONLY to the Auditors…who aren’t the public. They’re just public officials…uh huh. Someone seems to have missed the “and” between confidential and not subject to public disclosure in Section 6111(i). The Legislature specifically went further than to simply state that the records are confidential by including, as well, that they aren’t subject to public disclosure. This seems to have eluded the Auditors and their counsel.

It is also interesting to see them argue that their putative right to audit in some unspecified way supersedes the confidentiality provisions. Nothing within the Complaint supports their position that the Sheriff must turn over the confidential information. In fact, there isn’t a single case or statute cited that would support their proposition, which is why such is noticeably absent from the Complaint.

Looks like the Auditors, in their haste to sue the Sheriff, may have just cost the taxpayers of Perry County millions of dollars….remember that come election time…

 

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Perry County Commissioner Support Sheriff Nace’s Position!

Today, Perry County’s Right to Know Law Officer provided me with additional information regarding my request of June 22, 2014.  A copy of the Nauman Smith law Firm June 2, 2014 invoice can be obtained here. More interesting is the June 16, 2014 letter from Perry County Solicitor William Blunt. You can download a copy here.

In the June 16, 2014 letter, Attorney Blunt on behalf of the Perry County Commissioners refuses to pay additional fees requested, beyond the original $2000 retainer that was agreed to in the fee agreement, and states that the Board of Commissioners previously informed the Auditors “that prior to considering their request for additional legal fees they should first attempt to perform a financial audit of the Sheriff’s concealed weapon permit fees records with the information provided by the Sheriff.” It continues on, “It is my understanding that said information included the original records maintained by the Sheriff’s Office with the names of concealed firearm applicants redacted. The Auditors refused to attempt to perform said Audit under said circumstances.”

But we haven’t reached the best part:

The Board of Commissioners believes that the same is entirely unreasonable and demonstrative of the Auditor’s unwillingness to attempt to perform their elected duties without creating financial hardship for the taxpayers of Perry County. It remains the position of the Board of Commissioners that the Auditors should first attempt to perform said financial audit with the information provided by the Sheriff of Perry County and if for some reason said audit cannot be performed as a result of the Sheriff’s refusal to disclose the names of the applicants, the Auditors should then meet with the Board of Commissioners to review the status of the same at which time the Commissioners will give any request for additional funding due consideration.

Even better:

I note that in the last paragraph of your letter, you reference filing a legal action in a court of competent jurisdiction.  We believe that the filing of same at this time is premature and totally unnecessary. As such, Perry County will not pay for legal fees incurred to your firm for the same. The Perry County Board of Commissioners does not believe that a judicial determination of whether the Auditors have the right to compel the Sheriff to disclose the names of of applicants for concealed weapons is necessary in order for the Auditors to complete their financial audit. Furthermore, any such litigation will ultimately result in the taxpayers of Perry County being requested to fund legal fees for both the Auditors and Sheriff.

So, are the Auditors going to move forward with litigation, against the direction of the Board of Commissioners? If so, who is funding the Auditors’ legal fees? These are questions that should be soon known.

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Perry County Taxpayers to Pay for Lawsuit Against Sheriff Nace

I have previously blogged about the pending legal action filed by Perry County Auditor McMullen against Perry County Sheriff Nace. What most are unaware of is the cost that will be borne by the Perry County taxpayers.

Pursuant to a Right to Know Law (RTKL) request that I filed in April, I was able to obtain the fee agreement that the County Commissioners entered into with the Nauman Smith Law Firm on or about March 26, 2014. You can download a copy here. The fee agreement provides that Attorney Craig Staudenmaeir will be paid $270 an hour, with his associates being paid $200 an hour, law clerks being paid $175 an hour and paralegals being paid $165 an hour. It is interesting to note that Commissioner Stephen Naylor’s signature is noticeably absent from the fee agreement, especially given is prior support of Sheriff Nace.

Of course, everyone wants to know what this will end up costing the taxpayers of Perry County. As of April 14, 2014, prior to any legal pleadings being drafted, Nauman Smith invoiced Perry County in the amount of $1,435.00, mostly just for research. You can download a copy here. I will be submitting a new RTKL request for an updated copy of the invoices received by the County.

Hold on Perry County residents, because it’s about to get expensive…

 

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Perry County Auditor Seeks to Compel Perry County Sheriff Nace to Disclose Confidential License to Carry Firearms Info

Perry County Sheriff Carl Nace, an ardent supporter of the 2nd Amendment, is being sued by Perry County Auditor McMullen to compel his disclosure of confidential license to carry firearms (LTCF) applicant information.

18 Pa.C.S. § 6111(i) provides,

All information provided by the potential .. applicant, including, but not limited to, the … applicant’s name or identity, furnished by … any applicant for a license to carry a firearm as provided by section 6109 shall be confidential and not subject to public disclosure. In addition to any other sanction or penalty imposed by this chapter, any person, licensed dealer, State or local governmental agency or department that violates this subsection shall be liable in civil damages in the amount of $1,000 per occurrence or three times the actual damages incurred as a result of the violation, whichever is greater, as well as reasonable attorney fees. (emphasis added)

As frequent readers of this blog are already aware, I have a class action lawsuit pending against the City of Philadelphia for disclosing confidential LTCF information.

When I first became aware of Auditor McMullen’s desire to obtain the confidential LTCF information of Perry County residents, in an attempt to amicably resolve this matter, on April 17th, I sent a letter on behalf of Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC) advising of the illegality of the dissemination of this information. You can see the letter Perry County Auditor Letter.

Auditor McMullen and the Commissioners have seemingly ignored my letter, as ABC 27 is reporting that Auditor McMullen has already filed suit against Sheriff Nace to compel the disclosure. As reported by ABC 27, the auditor’s attorney, Craig J. Staudenmaier, says “the auditors are not the public and the law does not prohibit the sheriff from providing the requested information to the auditors.” Attorney Staudenmaier further states,

The Auditors have tried to resolve this issue numerous times but the Sheriff has continually refused to provide the complete records. We have then commenced this action and have asked the court to declare that the Act relied upon by the Sheriff does not prohibit the release of these records to the Auditors

As Section 6111(i) and the implementing regulations clearly make disclosure of confidential LTCF information a crime for which Auditor McMullen and the Commissioners are ignoring, Sheriff Nace requires your support. A Facebook page supporting Sheriff Nace has been set up here.

You can also find the Perry County Commissioners’ contact information here. Please respectfully let them know that you do NOT support their invasion of your privacy and request that they immediately come out in support of Sheriff Nace.

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Will Pennsylvania Have Its Own Firearm?

On June 18th, HB 1989 was presented to the Governor, which the Governor is expected to sign in the near future. In addition to making the Piper J-3 Cub the official state aircraft of Pennsylvania, HB 1989 when signed by the Governor would make the Pennsylvania Long Rifle the official firearm of the Commonwealth.

HB 1989 reviews Pennsylvania’s history regarding the manufacture of firearms, as well as, the important role it played in the development of the United States. In explaining the background of the Pennsylvania Long Rifle,  HB 1989 declares,

The Pennsylvania Long Rifle, a unique firearm that was different in principle and outline from any other weapon in the world, was developed by skilled gunsmiths in the Moravian communities of Christian’s Spring, Northampton County, as well as by artistic riflemaker Martin Meylin, in Willow Street, Lancaster County.

The Bill then goes on to declare,

The Pennsylvania Long Rifle was the first truly American firearm and, due to its exceptional accuracy and range, was considered the greatest achievement in the development of firearms during the 18th century.

and,

Playing an important role in the early years of the Industrial Revolution in Pennsylvania and New England, the Pennsylvania Long Rifle was also instrumental in the American fur trade and was carried west and south by frontiersmen as they set out to expand the boundaries of the nation.

Given the history and craftsmanship, we should all be proud to have the Pennsylvania Long Rifle as official firearm of the Commonwealth. I hope to see that Governor Corbett will sign HB 1989 into law in the next coming days.

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