Consistent with a growing number of county sheriffs, Chester County Sheriff Carolyn Bunny Welsh is not requiring license to carry firearms (LTCF) applicants to included references on the LTCF application. I reached out to Sheriff Welsh at the beginning of May about her position on the references, as a friend of mine was applying for a LTCF and did not know if he had to include them.
Sheriff Welsh responded that she does not require the references and she believes the deputies at the front counter tell people that references are not required. Sheriff Welsh has a longstanding reputation for being rights oriented, so her response was no surprise. In 2013, the Chester County Sheriff’s Office raffled off an AR-15 to raising $20,000 for their K-9 unit.
As Chief Counsel Joshua Prince has long contended 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. Last November, Berks County Sheriff Eric Weaknecht also announced that he was no longer requiring LTCF applicants to submit references. More recently in January, it came to light that Perry County Sheriff Carl Nace does not require references on LTCF applications.
I would like to thank Sheriff Welsh, Sheriff Nace and Sheriff Weaknecht for following the letter of the law and not requiring references on their LTCF applications.