Category Archives: 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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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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Allentown: Only “Wealthy, White Individuals” Need Apply As Residents

Recently, during the debate over Allentown council’s repeal of its illegal firearm ordinances, Democrat Michael Donovan, a former member of city council who supported Allentown’s lost and stolen gun law, declared that “Allentown is the third largest city in the state” and “It is claiming a renaissance for wealthy, white individuals who wish to be safe.”

Wow, apparently, as some have contended for years, being a wealthy, white person has its perks, which apparently includes not being held accountable and being permitted to violate state law without prosecution. (For those unaware, the regulation of firearms by a municipality, since 1974, has been a misdemeanor of the 1st degree – Where Art Thou Oh Lehigh County District Attorney Martin?).

But, where is the national coverage and outrage over such a blatantly racist comment? Oh, I forgot…it wasn’t said by a Republican, so it isn’t news worthy. Maybe it’s time we change that…

 

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One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest…Or is Attempting To Legislate From It

On February 2, 2015 a bill was referred to the Judiciary Committee in the State House of Representatives that should have you worried. House Bill 285 was introduced by Representative W. Thomas (D.) of Philadelphia County.

In his memorandum to House Members dated January 5, 2015, Representative Thomas stated that he planned to re-introduce legislation that would “limit individuals with mental illness from receiving a gun permit and/or purchasing firearms.” The memo briefly mentions that since the 18th Century the right of citizens to own, register and carry firearms has been restricted and that the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) prohibited those who were treated for mental illness or substance abuse.

The memo continues with the National Instant Check System (NICS) Improvement Act and some of the provisions that were made possible. Representative Thomas notes that anyone who has purchased a gun in Pennsylvania is familiar with the mental health question that appears on the state and federal forms, “Have you ever been declared incompetent or involuntarily committed to a mental health institution?” The memo concludes with a final thought that while he believes this question seems reasonable enough, he proposes to add an additional question asking if the individual has ever been treated for any type of mental illness by a licensed professional.

Looking at the text of H.B. 285, it amends § 6109(c) which addresses License to Carry Firearms (LTCF). The proposed amendment is bolded and italicized below.

                I have never been convicted of a crime that prohibits me from possessing or acquiring a firearm under Federal or State law. I am of sound mind [and], have never been committed to a mental institution and have never received mental health treatment on an inpatient or outpatient basis. I hereby certify that the statements contained herein are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief. I understand that, if I knowingly make any false statements herein, I am subject to penalties prescribed by law…

It also amends § 6111 which deals with the sale or transfer of firearms. In the pertinent part, it amends the state form that is required for all firearm purchases to read:

“Have you ever received mental health treatment on an inpatient or outpatient basis?”

While the mental health aspect of firearms in the community has been a hot button topic since Virginia Tech and more recently Aurora, Colorado and Sandy Hook, this bill raises a number of alarming questions.

dsm5

What defines mental health treatment? Is it only inclusive of being treated for what would be commonly thought to be serious mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder or does it expand to less stigmatized mental illnesses like obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety? Where does depression fall in the mix?

A Center for Disease Control and Prevention study from 2011 estimated that 1 in 10 U.S. adults reported depression. Psychcentral.com lists a number of different disorders that are recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). While it might not be Representatives Thomas’s intent, there are a wide range of mental disorders that an individual could seek help for which would disqualify them from obtaining a LTCF or purchasing a gun in the Commonwealth should this bill pass. Even eating disorders could trigger a prohibition if this were to become law.

More frightening is the chilling effect this could potentially have on individuals who want to seek help for issues they are having in their life. It would require individuals to potentially chose between getting the help they need and maintaining their Article 1 Section 21 right to keep and bear arms. Even more concerning is that if an individual were to get help for a mental illness which clearly shouldn’t be a prohibiting factor and then were to answer no to the proposed question for the Pennsylvania State Record of Sale, the individual would be committing a felony of the third degree under § 6111(g)(4)(ii).

Anyone who is concerned about an individual’s right to keep and bear arms should contact their State Representative and the committee members and tell them to vote against this bill. I’ve included links to find your State Representative and to the Judiciary Committee for your convenience.

Who is my State Representative?

Judiciary Committee

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Attorney General Kathleen Kane Issues Firearm Reciprocity Report

Today, Attorney General Kathleen Kane issued her 2013-2014 Firearm Reciprocity Report, as required by 18 Pa.C.S. § 6109. Pursuant to Section 6109(k)(2), “The Attorney General shall report to the General Assembly … annually … concerning the agreements which have been consummated under this subsection.”

There is little of interest in the one page report, other than the Attorney General’s office again acknowledging that it invalidated our reciprocity agreement with Utah based upon some ghost statutory change to Utah’s law. No one has yet to identify this putative change in Utah’s law or the authority for the Attorney General to rescind, modify, amend or otherwise change an existing reciprocity agreement. I previously testified before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, House State Government Committee, regarding this usurpation of power.

What appears clear from the report is that the AG’s Office spent as much time drafting the report as it seemingly spent attempting to obtain new reciprocity agreements. Do we have a new AG yet?

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