As some of our viewers are aware, in March of this year, a Cambria County man and collector of firearms had 306 of his firearms confiscated by the Cambria County Sheriff as a result of a temporary Protection for Abuse Act (PFA) Order. (His name is not being disclosed due to the nature of the issues).
Pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. 6107(b), which addresses temporary PFAs, an individual can be deprived of his/her right to keep and bear arms, without opportunity to be heard, as occurred in this matter. Where a temporary PFA is issued, pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. 6107(a), a hearing must be held within 10 days where all parties have an opportunity to be heard. During that hearing, the Honorable Judge F. Joseph Leahey not only denied the final PFA but also vacated the temporary PFA, finding that there was no basis in the law for the issuance of the temporary PFA. Unfortunately, the Cambria County Sheriff’s department expended over $1200 in the confiscation of the Cambria man’s firearms, the cost of which was assessed against the gun owner.
At that point, I was retained to request reconsideration of that aspect of the Order on several grounds: First, 23 Pa.C.S. 6108.1(a) precludes the assessment of costs relating to the return of firearms in PFA matters; Second, 18 Pa.C.S. 6111.1(b)(4) requires return of all firearms in the possession of a law enforcement agency to the lawful owner, provided the lawful owner is not prohibited from possessing and purchasing firearms and ammunition; Third, pursuant to Article 1, Sections 1 and 9 of the Pennsylvania Constitution and the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, he was denied all forms of due process; Fourth, pursuant to Article 1, Section 21 and the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, he was denied his right to keep and bear arms; and Fifth, that pursuant to the 5th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the assessment of costs would constitute a taking in this context. Additionally, I requested that all firearms be returned to the location of confiscation (e.g. my client’s home).
On April 24th, Judge Leahey graciously granted an emergency oral request for reconsideration of his Order, as the appeal deadline was about to run. After filing a written motion for reconsideration explaining the above issues, on May 18, 2015, the Honorable F. Joseph Leahey issued a new Order vacating the assessment of costs against my client and now assessing the costs for confiscation against the County. Further, he directed the Sheriff to return all the firearms to my client at the location of confiscation.
It bears noting that Cambria Sheriff Bob Kolar never opposed the motion for reconsideration (or, to my knowledge, ever asked the court to impose the costs against my client) and was quoted as saying “I had a court order and I was complying with that order.” Further, it is my understanding that Judge Leahey was unaware of the prohibition on the assessment of costs related to the confiscation and return of firearms in PFA matters and simply followed policy in initially assessing the costs. As soon as he was made aware of the issue, he was genuinely concerned and was extremely amenable to reconsidering his Order. Both of these men deserve our appreciation for their dedication in upholding the law.
If you or someone you know has a PFA issued against them or need assistance in seeking return of your firearms, please do not hesitate to contact us – 888-313-0416 or firstname.lastname@example.org – to discuss your rights!