Category Archives: Firearms Law

Default Judgment Entered Against the City of Harrisburg, et al. in Firearm Preemption Litigation

Today, the Dauphin County Prothonotary entered a default judgment for Plaintiff Howard Bullock against the City of Harrisburg, Mayor Eric Papenfuse and Police Chief Thomas Carter in the amount of “$21,140 plus such additional sums as may be assessed at trial.”  You can download an entire copy of the Default Judgment here.

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This default judgment stems from a lawsuit filed against the City of Harrisburg, Mayor Eric Papenfuse and Police Chief Thomas Carter by Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC), Kim Stolfer, Joshua First and Howard Bullock, as a result of their illegal firearm ordinances.

On February 13, 2015, the Defendants removed FOAC, Kim Stolfer and Joshua First to the United States District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania; however, they left Howard Bullock’s claims pending before the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas. As the Defendants failed to file a responsive pleading to Plaintiff Bullock’s claims, even after being provided the requisite 10 day notice, the Dauphin County Prothonotary entered a default judgment for Mr. Bullock against the Defendants.

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Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law

Your Papers, Please.

On February 17, 2015 State Representative Cruz introduced draconian legislation that could only be described out of a play book from the Weimar Republic prior to the passage of the Gesetz über Schußwaffen und Munition (Law on Firearms and Ammunition) in 1928 which required citizens to get a license from police to acquire firearms. See Nazi Firearms Laws and the Disarming of the German Jews, Pg. 487-488.

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House Bill 503, the Firearm Registration Act, requires that:

All firearms in this Commonwealth shall be registered in accordance with this section. It shall be the duty of a person owning or possessing any firearm to cause the firearm to be registered. No person within this Commonwealth may possess, harbor, have under the person’s control, transfer, offer for sale, sell, give, deliver or accept any firearm unless the person is the holder of a valid registration certificate for the firearm. No person within this Commonwealth may possess, harbor, have under the person’s control, transfer, offer for sale, sell, deliver or accept any firearm which is unregisterable under this act.

Representative Cruz was kind enough to leave exemptions for firearms owned by federal, state or local governments, duty related firearms to out of state police and corrections officers, firearms owned by manufacturers, transporters or retailers (provided they have the correct licensing), private security personnel (but their employer must own and maintain, as well as register the firearm) and individuals participating in recreational firearm activity in the Commonwealth or passing through provided that the firearm is either broken down or unloaded and cased.

The proposed legislation does not allow for individuals to obtain a registration certificate if they were convicted of a crime of violence, were convicted in the last five years of any violation of law relating to use, possession or sale of narcotics or are otherwise ineligible to possess a firearm under State or Federal law.

What is problematic with this proposed restriction, in addition to it being ill conceived, is that a crime of violence is not defined in this bill OR under 18 PA.C.S. § 6102. Ostensibly, this could mean that a summary conviction for a disorderly conduct involving a kick, punch, or shove could count and bar a person from being able to register their firearm.

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Simply put, if this bill was to pass and you are a resident of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Representative Cruz would want you to get in line to register them with the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP). But the bill doesn’t simply require that individuals register their firearms. It asks for a fairly large amount of information, some of which the federal government doesn’t even require when purchasing a gun.

The bill proposes that every person who is required to register under the act submit an application to the (PSP) which would include:

(1) The name, home and business address, telephone number, date of birth and Social Security number of the applicant.

(2) The age, sex and citizenship of the applicant.

(3) The name of the manufacturer, the caliber or gauge, model, type and serial number of each firearm to be registered.

(4) Two photographs taken within 30 days immediately prior to the date of filing the application equivalent to passport size showing the full face, head and shoulders of the applicant in a clear and distinguishing manner.

(5) Additional information as the Pennsylvania State Police may deem necessary to process the application.

But it gets worse. In addition to part 5 being vague, applicants would be required to submit fingerprints as part of the application process and PSP would also conduct a background check at the time of application. Within 30 days PSP would notify an individual if they were approved or denied.

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Connecticut Gun Owners stand in line to register their guns in 2013

If an individual were approved, the PSP would issue a certificate which would contain their name, residence, date of birth, photograph and other information PSP deemed necessary. HB 503 states that the certificate shall be carried with the firearm and shall be exhibited to police upon demand for inspection. The proposed certificates would need to be renewed yearly, at a cost of $10 per application.

If the applicant is denied and exhausts the administrative remedies the Bill directs that the applicant must surrender the firearm for which the application was denied to PSP. And we all know that PSP has never made a mistake as to an individual’s ability to own and possess a firearm. Not to mention, the bill doesn’t allow the individual to transfer their property to another because under §3(a):

No person within this Commonwealth may…transfer, offer for sale, sell, give, deliver…any firearm unless the person is the holder of a valid registration certificate for the firearm.

The Bill also requires that individuals who hold a registration certificate shall within 48 hours: Notify PSP regarding any theft, loss or destruction of the firearm, change of information on the certificate, the sale, transfer or other disposition of the firearm and return the certificate to PSP after a firearm is lost, stolen, destroyed or otherwise disposed of.

Lastly, the Bill requires that a registrant

Keep any firearm in the registrant’s possession unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock, gun safe or similar device unless the firearm is in the registrant’s immediate possession and control while at the registrant’s place of residence or business or while being used for lawful recreational purposes within this Commonwealth.

Disassembled is not defined by this proposed bill or § 6102 either! Are we to understand disassembled as merely field stripped or is it further than that?

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If this bill doesn’t have you concerned, it should. Representative Cruz is proposing that every firearm you possess as an individual be registered with the state. History has shown that firearms registries ultimately lead to bad things. In addition to knowing your firearm collection, the bill would allow the PSP to know WHERE the firearms are kept!

This proposed draconian law would require individuals to prove ownership to the police by having them produce a certificate of registration upon demand! While the likelihood is that this bill will not make it out of committee, it is important to keep an eye on such legislation. Our current governor would be delighted to sign such an oppressing bill. And this isn’t the first time Representative Cruz has introduced this bill!

How can you prevent it from seeing the light of day?

Contact the members on the Judiciary Committee and tell them not to let HB 503 out of committee.

After the initial writing of this blog, it has come to my attention via the American Gun Owners Alliance that the Senate has a similar bill (SB 503) which has been referred to their Judiciary Committee as well.

As always, don’t forget to click the buttons below to like and share this article with your friends and family. You can also like Firearms Industry Consulting Group and Prince Law Offices, P.C. Facebook pages to the right by simply clicking “like”.

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Motion for Stay is DENIED in NRA v. Lancaster

It was reported earlier this week that the City of Lancaster’s request for a Stay, pending the constitutional challenge in Leach v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 585 MD 2014, was denied. However, today an Order was issued dated February 13, 2015, which granted the City’s request for a stay.

At my request, Attorney Adam Kraut of our firm called the Lancaster County Prothonotary to determine whether a second order had been issued, which vacated the the February 13, 2015 Order and denied the stay. Attorney Kraut learned that no such second order had been issued and that the only order was the February 13, 2015 Order. At that point, he reached out to reporter Nephin and Judge’s chambers to determine why it was reported that the Stay was denied, when the Order reflects that it was granted. It was thereafter learned that the Order was granted in error and that the Request for Stay had been denied. Upon learning of the error, Judge Madenspacher immediately issued a new Order, vacating the February 13, 2015 Order and denying the Request for Stay.

Thanks to the diligent efforts of Attorney Kraut, the proper order has been issued. Absent his devotion, it is unknown when this issue would have come to light.

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Is the City of Harrisburg Attempting to Solicit People to Conspire to Violate the Law?

Recently, the City of Harrisburg announced that it was accepting donations to support its fight against several lawsuits, including ours, in relation to its illegal and unlawful firearm ordinances. However, it appears that the City’s solicitor didn’t think through this request in relation to Pennsylvania’s Crimes Code.

Let’s start with the underlying statute that prohibits any municipality from regulating firearms and ammunition. 18 Pa.C.S. 6120 provides:

No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth.

18 Pa.C.S. 6119 then goes on to declare:

Except as otherwise specifically provided, an offense under this subchapter constitutes a misdemeanor of the first degree.

Therefore, it is a misdemeanor of the 1st degree for any county, municipality or township to violate Section 6120.

Pennsylvania’s Crimes Code also includes crimes for attempt, solicitation and conspiracy.

Specifically, 18 Pa.C.S. 901 addresses criminal attempt and declares:

A person commits an attempt when, with intent to commit a specific crime, he does any act which constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of that crime.

18 Pa.C.S. 902 addresses criminal solicitation:

A person is guilty of solicitation to commit a crime if with the intent of promoting or facilitating its commission he commands, encourages or requests another person to engage in specific conduct which would constitute such crime or an attempt to commit such crime or which would establish his complicity in its commission or attempted commission.

Lastly, 18 Pa.C.S. 903 addresses criminal conspiracy:

A person is guilty of conspiracy with another person or persons to commit a crime if with the intent of promoting or facilitating its commission he:
(1) agrees with such other person or persons that they or one or more of them will engage in conduct which constitutes such crime or an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime; or
(2) agrees to aid such other person or persons in the planning or commission of such crime or of an attempt or solicitation to commit such crime.

As the City is now soliciting individuals to fund and support its litigation involving its unlawful firearm and ammunition ordinances, so that it can continue to enforce these illegal and unlawful ordinances,  it seems clear that the City and Mayor Papenfuse are involved in attempting to solicit people to conspire to violate Section 6120 and anyone donating in support would likewise be attempting and conspiring to violate Section 6120. As the Commonwealth Court has already ruled in Dillon v. City of Erie that an identical parks ordinance was illegal and in Clarke v. House of Representatives ruled that lost and stolen ordinances are illegal, there can be no dispute that the City of Harrisburg and its elected officials have violated Section 6120.Therefore, we call upon District Attorney Marsico to bring charges against all of those involved, including the City of Harrisburg and its elected officials for violating Section 6120. It is time that our district attorneys hold our publicly elected officials accountable for their criminal acts.

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A Pre-Valentines Day Massacre

Friday the 13th, the day before Valentines Day 2015, ATF ended close to a three decade old relationship with SS109 and M855. In its lengthy breakup note ATF noted that “in 1986, ATF held that 5.56mm projectiles in SS109 and M855 cartridges were exempt,” from being classified as armor piercing under the “primarily intended for sporting purposes” exemption found in 18 USC § 921(a)(17)(C). ATF had previously asked the industry, members of law enforcement and the public in 2012, for input as to how they should determine whether certain projectiles would fit under the exemption.

This document which was released Friday was the result of that process. It would appear that ATF is looking for some feedback as to their proposed framework for determining whether a projectile should be granted an exemption. ATF in the same breath has ruffled the firearms community’s feathers with its illogical reclassification of SS109 and M855. But is it armor piercing? By my reading of the statute, it is most certainly not. Which begs the question: why did it receive an exemption in the first place?

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18 USC § 921(a)(17)(B) reads:

The term “armor piercing ammunition” means—

(i) a projectile or projectile core which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium; or

(ii) a full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.

From my research, SS109 and M855 do not fit into EITHER subsection (i) or (ii)! I am working to obtain figures direct from a manufacturer for an exhibit but subsection (i) has no bearing on the classification because the core is made of a steel penetrator weighing about +/- 10 grains with the rest being lead! A far cry from the “constructed entirely….from one of a combination of….steel,” requirement. Subsection (ii) would be eliminated because the jacket weight is about 17% of the projectile weight, not withstanding the fact that the projectile is .22 caliber AND was neither designed nor intended for use in a handgun. 

SS109

SS109 Cross Section, 2nd from R, M855 Green Tip Lake City Photo Credit: AR15.com Ammo Project

I currently have some requests out to members of the industry for more information about other points that I’d like to make in the comment, including why was SS109 and M855 ever given an exemption when it did not and still does not meet the statutory definition of “armor piercing”.

Firearms Industry Consulting Group (FICG), a division of Prince Law Offices, P.C., is currently preparing a comment to ATF in opposition of their proposed framework for determining whether certain projectiles are “primarily intended for sporting purposes” within the meaning of 18 USC § 921(a)(17)(C) and the removal of the exemption of SS109 and M855. For those of you who are not familiar, FICG was instrumental in organizing opposition to ATF 41P. FICG was retained to file a comment on behalf of David M. Goldman of GunTrustLawyer.com and the Apple Law Firm, PLLC. FICG also filed its own comment in excess of over 500 pages with exhibits and a supplemental comment of over 65 pages with exhibits.

Anyone wishing to donate to our time in drafting a comment in opposition of ATF’s proposed framework for determining whether certain projectiles are “primarily intended for sporting purposes” can either mail donations to Prince Law Offices, P.C., 646 Lenape Rd, Bechtelsville, PA 19505 or call our office at 888-313-0416. Simply include a note or inform that staff that you are donating in relation to the armor piercing ammunition comment. Also, if you wish to donate using Paypal, you can use our Paypal address of paypal@princelaw.attymatter.com.

DISCLOSURE: Submission of a donation does not create an attorney-client relationship. By submitting any donation, you understand and agree that no attorney-client relationship is formed and that neither Prince Law Offices, P.C. nor any of its attorneys have agreed or are obligated to represent you.

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FICG/Prince Law Offices, P.C.’s Eighth Bi-Annual Machinegun Shoot – May, 16, 2015!

Firearms Industry Consulting Group (FICG)®, a division of Prince Law Offices, P.C., will be hosting our eighth bi-annual machine gun shoot at Eastern Lancaster County Rod and Gun Club on May 16, 2015, in celebration of the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution, Article 1, Section 21 of the PA Constitution and Chief Counsel Joshua Prince’s birthday. 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.

Bear Paw Arms will be in attendance.

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 Office Manager, Linda Martin, at lmartin@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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PRESS RELEASE: Chief Counsel Joshua Prince to be on NBC10’s @ Issue on Sunday!

We are proud to announce that Chief Counsel Joshua Prince of the Firearms Industry Consulting Group, a division of Prince Law Offices, P.C., will be on NBC 10’s @ Issue on Sunday at 11:30 AM discussing Pennsylvania’s recent amendment to our firearm and ammunition preemption statute, known as Act 192. Shira Goodman from CeaseFirePA will also be in attendance.

Tune in to watch Attorney Prince debate Mrs. Goodman regarding Act 192, its validity, and the criminal penalties, since 1974, associated with violating 18 Pa.C.S. § 6120. This is guaranteed to be a show you don’t want to miss!

If you live in a municipality that is violating your rights by regulating firearms or ammunition, contact us today – 888-313-0416 or Info@PrinceLaw.com – to discuss your legal rights! Together, we can ensure that our Article 1, Section 21 and Second Amendment Rights are here for our children.

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