In preparation for the upcoming Hurricane Sandy, on October 27, 2012, Governor Corbett issued a State of Emergency for all of Pennsylvania. This may seem commonsensical given the high likelihood that most of eastern Pennsylvania will be hit head-on by Sandy. However, few realize the impact on firearms rights during a state of emergency.
Pursuant to 18 PA.C.S. 6107, Prohibited Conduct During an Emergency, “No person shall carry a firearm upon the public streets or upon any public property during an emergency proclaimed by a State or municipal governmental executive unless that person is: (1) Actively engaged in a defense of that person’s life or property from peril or threat. (2) Licensed to carry firearms under section 6109 (relating to licenses) or is exempt from licensing under section 6106(b) (relating to firearms not to be carried without a license).”
It should be noted that the definition of a firearm is specific to this section of the code and not the general definition of a firearm found in Section 6102. A firearm is defined as “any weapon that is designed to or may readily be converted to expel any projectile by the action of an explosive or the frame or receiver of any weapon.”
This means that an individual, who could generally carry a firearm in public without a license to carry firearms (LTCF) (with the exception of in the City of Philadelphia as a city of the first class), cannot do so during a state of emergency. However, as the above exceptions reflect, this does not include when the individual is using the firearm for self-defense or if the individual has a license to carry firearms. This is another reason why I always recommend that any individual, regardless of whether he/she desires to conceal carry a firearm, procure an LTCF.
Since Katrina and the confiscation of firearms that occurred during the state of emergency there, individuals are generally concerned about the Government using a state of emergency to confiscate firearms. Pennsylvania law specifically prevents any form of confiscation of firearms from occurring as a result of a state of emergency. Specifically, “(b) Seizure, taking and confiscation.—Except as otherwise provided under subsection (a) and notwithstanding the provisions of 35 Pa.C.S. Ch. 73 (relating to Commonwealth services) or any other provision of law to the contrary, no firearm, accessory or ammunition may be seized, taken or confiscated during an emergency unless the seizure, taking or confiscation would be authorized absent the emergency.” For purposes of this section, accessory is defined as “Any scope, sight, bipod, sling, light, magazine, clip or other related item that is attached to or necessary for the operation of a firearm.”
Hopefully, all of you will weather the storm without needing to know of these limitation; however, if you should have any issues relating to carrying a firearm pursuant to an LTCF or know of a law enforcement officer that confiscated a firearm during the state of emergency, please contact me today.