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.

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

  1. So, Francisco A. Caba has a license now, right, because Weaknecht read 6109(e)(1)(i) again and realized the stupidity of the Court of Common Pleas and the Commonwealth Court, right? (And let’s not forget all of the lost souls whom didn’t take up appeals after reasonless or (e)(1)(i) denials or revocations.)
    What would be the enabling authority for Weaknecht to conduct appeals on his own? He’s got 45 days from receipt of application to grant or deny the license. A revoked licensee has 30 days to appeal to the court of common pleas. There’s nothing in the UFA to provide for it and no regulations promulgated by the PSP to carry it out. This would necessarily require the promulgation of regulations, meaning that if the sheriff is subject to acts like the Commonwealth Documents Law and Regulatory Review Act, public notice and comment need to occur through the public bulletin; otherwise we should be expecting a notice-comment-publication period through the prothonotary and law journal at the very least.
    Stopgap measures that don’t conform to law are the worst kind because they lend hand to the least controlled side effects. They also turn us away from fighting the real legal problems that exist: that prohibitions reliant upon licensing exist, like 18 Pa.C.S. 6106, and have yet to be repealed or declared unconstitutional, that people are failing to appeal to the court of common pleas for every denial and revocation that includes 6109(e)(1)(i) as a reason (or gives (e)(1) no reason at all), that the judges involved cannot be relied upon to follow the law and thus should be reported to the Judicial Discipline committee and the county District Attorney and should otherwise be better selected through elections processes, and that the PSP are regulating beyond their authority, for example, in fashioning the one-page form uniform throughout the Commonwealth intended to carry out the section, under 18 Pa.C.S. 6109(c).
    We should not reelect someone whom fashions processes without authority and carries them out without fair notice and anything to point to in a court of law.


    1. Actually, it is Section 6109 that fails to provide for the necessary due process, which Sheriff Weaknecht is providing. The US Supreme Court case law and PA’s local agency law requires a hearing in denying the individual. The de novo appeal to the court of common pleas does not cure that and requires that the individual pay court costs (and likely attorney fees) to file the appeal and litigate it. Sheriff Weaknecht has provided a hearing process, so that the individual does not have his/her due process rights violated and does not incur those costs.


  2. I just applied for my new permit for Lebanon Co. I had 2 police officers for my references and couldn’t use them because they lived in Dauphin Co. Do Sheriffs realize that this runs contrary to the law, or is it a case of just not caring?


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