Category Archives: Pennsylvania Firearms Law

PRESS RELEASE: Lawsuit Filed Against City of Harrisburg Regarding Its Illegal Firearm and Ammunition Ordinances

Today, Firearms Industry Consulting Group, a division of Prince Law Offices, P.C., filed an 87 page Complaint, plus exhibits, against the City of Harrisburg, Mayor Papenfuse and Police Chief Carter on behalf of Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC) and four individual plaintiffs regarding the City’s illegal and unconstitutional firearm and ammunition ordinances, regulations and policies, including:  3-345.1 – Possession of firearms by minors, 3-345.2 – Discharging weapons or firearms, 3-345.4 – Lost and stolen firearms, 3-355.2 – Emergency measures, and 10-301.13 – Hunting, firearms and fishing. It is docket no. 2015-CV-354-EQ. Unlike the previous complaint that was filed only pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 6120, in this suit, Chief Counsel Joshua Prince argues that the City’s ordinances are violative of 18 Pa.C.S. § 6120, Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, and the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Accordingly, it is also brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for deprivation of civil liberties under color of law.

Although the City was provided an opportunity to repeal its illegal ordinances, in direct defiance of the state crime of Official Oppression, as well as, Section 6120, Mayor Papenfuse declared to Penn Live reporter Christine Vendel: “The city’s not going to repeal its ordinances, because our police department feels that they are in the public interest, and I do too.” Further, Police Chief Carter declared that: “officers regularly cite violators for reckless discharge of guns in the city and when minors are caught in possession of firearms.”

Mayor Papenfuse appears to be unaware that the Commonwealth Court in Dillon v. City of Erie, 83 A.3d 467, 473 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2014), already ruled that the City of Erie’s ordinance prohibiting possession of firearms in parks, which is identical to 10-301.13, was unconstitutional and in violation of Section 6120. Further, in Clarke v. House of Representatives, 957 A.2d 361 (Pa. Cmwlth. Ct. 2008), the Commonwealth Court held that the City of Philadelphia’s lost and stolen ordinance was in violation or Article 1, Section 21 and Section 6120.

It is unfortunate that City’s taxpayers will be burdened by the City’s elected officials and law enforcement officers believing it is acceptable, and even gloating, that they are violating the Crimes Code by charging individuals, pursuant to illegal and unlawful ordinances, regulations and policies and refusing to repeal such illegal provisions.

As it is a misdemeanor of the first degree to violate Section 6120, pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 6119, we call upon Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico to bring charges against the City and its representatives for their violations of the Crimes Code, including conspiracy, solicitation, aiding and abetting, official oppression, and Section 6120. It is time that our elected officials be held accountable for their actions.

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Firearms Law Seminar – March 7, 2015 – in Support of Jim Smith for Berks County Judge!

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On Saturday, March 7, 2015, from 10am to 2pm, Chief Counsel Joshua Prince from the Firearms Industry Consulting Group, a division of Prince Law Offices, P.C., and Attorney Eric Winter from Prince Law Offices, P.C. will present on federal and state firearms law issues at Berks Fire Water Restorations, 1145 Commons Boulevard, Reading, PA 19605. This seminar is being offered in support of Jim Smith’s campaign to become a Judge in Berks County and requires a donation of $25 to the Friends of Jim Smith. All attendees must RSVP by February 27, 2015.

Attorneys Prince and Winter will discuss everything from the types of firearms that we can own in PA, to what constitutes a prohibited person under state and federal law, to firearm estate planning, to use of force in a self-defense situation. There will also be a question and answer period for anyone to ask any questions that they may have. How often do you get unfettered access to firearms legal advice for a 4 hour period, for a mere donation of at least $25?!?! Donations in excess of $25, as the costs for a judicial campaign are not cheap, are GREATLY appreciated!

This is your opportunity to learn about Pennsylvania and Federal Firearms Law, while having all your questions answered and supporting Jim Smith for Judge! Make sure to sign up as soon as possible, as the venue does have capacity restrictions and it will be on a first come, first serve basis. Based on prior seminars, this will sell out quickly!

 

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Municipalities Repealing Unlawful Ordinances

As many of our viewers are aware, I have sent 6+ page letters to numerous (over 90) municipalities regarding their unlawful firearm ordinances and the looming effective date of Act 192. I am going to attempt to keep this blog article updated on the status of those municipal ordinances, where the municipality has taken or is taking some form of action (aka, you may want to bookmark this article, if you want to keep track). If we have not yet heard back from the municipality, it will not be listed below.

If any of you wish to donate towards the time and cost invested in obtaining the repeal of these ordinances, it would be greatly appreciated. You can simply call the office at 888-313-0416 and speak with accounting (simply tell them it is in relation to matter 34548) or send a check to Prince Law Offices, P.C., 646 Lenape Rd, Bechtelsville, PA 19505 and simply place “Matter 34548″ on the memo line. To all of those who have already donated, we GREATLY appreciate your donations.

Updated 1/30/15

Bellefonte Borough: Repealed its unlawful ordinances at the December monthly meeting of the Board of Supervisors

Brecknock Township: Ordinances to be repealed on January 13th at the monthly meeting of the Board of Supervisors

Brookville Borough: Ordinances to be repealed at the January 6th meeting.

Buckingham Township: Ordinances to be repealed late January or early February after advertisement.

Bucks County: Will be moving forward with a repeal of its discharge ordinance.

Cheltenham Township: Ordinances in the process of being repealed

City of Bethlehem: Ordinances amended but still do not seemingly comply with Section 6120.

City of Erie: The original litigation of Dillon v. City of Erie resulted in the Commonwealth Court finding that the City’s ban on possession of firearms in city parks was unlawful; however, the City has now also repealed its lost and stolen ordinance.

City of Harrisburg: Refusing to rescind its ordinances

City of Reading: Ordinances in the process of being repealed.

College Township: Ordinances in the process of being repealed.

Crescent Township: Repealing its ordinances at the January 8th meeting

Dingman Township: In the process of repealing their ordinances.

Dover Borough: Repealing its ordinances.

Doylestown Borough: Ordinances in the process of being repealed

Elizabethville Borough: Ordinances in the process of being repealed.

Emporium Borough: Reviewing their ordinances and will discuss at their meeting on Feb 2 (repeal expected)

Ferguson Township: Ordinances in the process of being repealed

Hanover Township: Ordinances repealed but still working on fixing signs

Hepburn Township: Ordinances to be repealed by the February monthly meeting of the Board of Supervisors

Horsham Township: Will be introducing a repeal of their ordinances on January 26th.

Lehigh Township: Ordinances to be repealed in the near future (with the addition of a VERY pro NFA provision, which will be discussed once enacted)

Liberty Borough: Repealed their ordinances on January 19th.

Lower Allen, Cumberland Co: Ordinances repealed 12/22/2014

Macungie Borough: Ordinances amended but still do not seemingly comply with Section 6120.

Marshall Township: Awaiting solicitor review

Morrisville Borough: Ordinances in the process of being repealed.

North York Borough: Repealing their ordinances

Oxford Borough: Repealed their ordinance.

Plumstead Township: Ordinances to be repealed on January 5th at the monthly meeting of the Board of Supervisors

Richland Township: Ordinances in the process of being repealed

Salisbury Township: Moving forward with drafting an ordinance to repeal their unlawful ordinances.

Sellersville Borough: Ordinance has been amended

Telford Borough: Ordinance repealing Ordinance 174 in its entirety and Chapter 6, Conduct, Part 5, Discharge of Firearms will be adopted on February 2nd, after the proper notice/advertisement requirements.

Union Township: Ordinances in the process of being repealed

Warrington Township: Ordinances to be repealed in the near future

Warwick Township: Set to repeal all their firearm regulations on January 19th

Washington County: Repealing its unlawful ordinances.

West Mifflin Borough: Lost and Stolen has been repealed; awaiting confirmation regarding Parks and Rec

Whitehall Township: Although verbiage has been removed from the signs, it is still quasi-visible.

Wilson Borough: Repealed its unlawful ordinances

Worcester Township: Ordinances repealed at December 17, 2014 meeting

 

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Press Release: Pending Litigation Against Municipalities That Violate Section 6120

As many news agencies are reporting on Firearms Industry Consulting Group (FICG) Chief Counsel Joshua Prince‘s letter to the City of Harrisburg, we believe it is important that everyone be aware of some of the issues being overlooked by the reporting.

As of this release, the reporting has failed to reflect that any such ordinance or regulation by a municipality or county is a violation of Pennsylvania’s Crimes Code, even absent the Act 192 amendments. Pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. 6119, a violation of Section 6120, our state firearm preemption statute, is a misdemeanor of the first degree. This is the highest level misdemeanor that exists in the Commonwealth. In direct violation of the Crimes Code, Mayor Papenfuse has stated “The city’s not going to repeal its ordinances, because our police department feels that they are in the public interest, and I do too,” and Chief Carter said “officers regularly cite violators for reckless discharge of guns in the city and when minors are caught in possession of firearms.” It is unfortunate that our elected officials and law enforcement officers believe it is acceptable, and even gloat, that they are violating the Crimes Code by charging individuals, pursuant to illegal and unlawful ordinances and regulations.

Second, while some claim that such ordinances and regulations are in the best interest of the public, they have failed to show any statistical data that such ordinances and regulations deter/prevent crime or that other state level crimes, enacted by the General Assembly, are insufficient for prosecution. For example, if an individual recklessly discharges a firearm, depending on the circumstances, the individual can be charged with recklessly endangering another person, terroristic threats, aggravated assault and simple assault, all of which have been enacted by the General Assembly, are not prohibited by Section 6120 and carry grading levels of both felonies and misdemeanors. If the ability to charge an individual with a felony is not sufficient to dissuade that individual from committing a crime, clearly a summary offense, the lowest grade criminal charging that exists within the Commonwealth, will be insufficient to deter that criminal.

More importantly, whether it benefits the public is immaterial because the General Assembly has preempted any such regulation, as previously held by the PA Supreme Court and Commonwealth Court. If a municipality or county desires to have the law changed, instead of violating the Crimes Code, it can petition its representatives for such an amendment to the law. Unfortunately, due to municipalities ignoring the dictate of the General Assembly and District Attorneys failing to prosecute those that violate Section 6120, the Legislature was left with no recourse but to enact Act 192.

While we applaud those municipalities and counties that are taking immediate corrective steps to rescind their illegal ordinances and regulations, it is unfortunate that others, such as the City of Harrisburg, City of Philadelphia and City of Pittsburgh, are actively promoting the violation of our Crimes Code. What message does that send to our youth and the public? Is it in the public’s interest to have our youth believe that our elected official are above the law and will not be held accountable? If the concern is truly about the public interest, it is time that our elected officials take responsibility or be held responsible for their actions.

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6th Circuit Court of Appeals Rules that an Involuntary Commitment is Insufficient for Stripping One of His/Her 2nd Amendment Rights

In a decision issued by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday, the court found that it was unconstitutional to strip an individual of his 2nd Amendment rights when he had been involuntarily committed for less than a month after a devastating divorce some 28 years ago.

This is a major victory for 2nd Amendment litigation, as the 6th Circuit also found that strict scrutiny applies. These same issues I raised regarding Pennsylvania’s Mental Health and Procedures Act (MHPA) before the Superior Court in Keyes, but which the Superior Court rejected. This now provides support for invalidating state and federal firearm disabilities in the Commonwealth, as a result of an isolated involuntary mental health commitment.

If you are prohibited because of a mental health commitment and wish to discuss your options, contact us today by email or phone – 888-313-0416!

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FICG Files Letter with Borough of Doylestown to Rescind Its Unlawful Firearm Ordinances

Today, Firearms Industry Consulting Group (FICG)®, a division of Prince Law Offices, P.C., filed a letter in support of the Borough of Doylestown rescinding its illegal firearm ordinances on behalf of American Gun Owners Alliance (AMGOA), Concerned Gun Owners of PA (CGOPA), Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC), Pennsylvanians For Self Protection (PA4SP) and several Borough residents.

As many of our readers are aware, with the passage of HB 80, municipalities will soon be civilly liable for violations of 18 Pa.C.S. § 6120, in addition to being criminally liable. As a result, the Borough of Doylestown is considering rescinding its illegal firearm ordinances at its meeting on Wednesday, December 10th. Unfortunately, Borough President Ansinn has publicly mocked HB 80 by stating “we’re basically being forced to repeal these laws at gun point. Be sure to ‘thank’ your local state legislators for this ‘common sense’ reform.” It is truly unfortunate that any publicly elected official would support the violation of the Commonwealth’s Crimes Code.

I will keep you advised as I learn what action the Borough of Doylestown will take; however, if you or someone you know is being unlawfully prosecuted pursuant to an unlawful municipal ordinance relating to the regulation of a firearm, please feel free to contact us at 888-313-0416 or info@PrinceLaw.com, so we can discuss your legal options.

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Berks County Sheriff Weaknecht No Longer Requiring References on LTCF Applications!

It was announced today that the Berks County Sheriff’s Department will no longer require references for a License to Carry Firearms (LTCF). I have long contended that requiring references on the application is a violation of the confidentiality provisions of 18 Pa.C.S. 6111(g)(3.1) and (i), as merely calling the reference, even without disclosing that the applicant has applied for an LTCF, is a violation of the statutory protections, as the caller would be disclosing the “name” and “identity” of the individual, as a result of the application. This issue was addressed in our Class Action against the City of Philadelphia, which resulted in the City of Philadelphia agreeing not to require references.

When Berks County Sheriff Eric Weaknecht became aware of this issue, he determined that references should not be required on the LTCF application and accordingly, stopped requiring them, effective today. Berks County is very fortunate to have such a great Sheriff, who is open to reconsidering past positions of his Department. This isn’t the first time that he has changed his Department’s position and procedures in relation to LTCFs. Sheriff Weaknecht was the first in the Commonwealth to implement an internal appeal process for an individual whose LTCF was denied or revoked. I understand this process has been very successful and other counties have inquired of him for specifics, as they too are considering implementing an internal appeal process.  Please make sure to support Sheriff Weaknecht during his next election cycle.

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