It has recently come to my attention that the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) is conducting compliance inspections of PA Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) without warrants. Unlike the federal law provision found in 18 U.S.C. 923(g)(1)(B)(ii) that provides ATF with the authority to conduct a compliance inspection once every 12 months without a warrant, no similar provision exists in Pennsylvania law. Further, unlike with a Federal Firearms License, where the ATF issues the FFL, in Pennsylvania, it is the county sheriff that issues the Pennsylvania firearms sales license, not the PSP.
Accordingly, the PSP has no authority or jurisdiction, absent a lawfully executed warrant or your consent, to inspect your records or premise. If the PSP comes to your store and demands to review your records, you should immediately inform them that you do not consent to a search of your premise or records and request that they produce a warrant. You should also immediately contact an attorney for representation and anticipate ATF to conduct a compliance inspection in the near future.
If you or a FFL you know is approached by the PSP, you should immediately contact us so that we can ensure your rights are protected. Remember, Rule 1 is never speak with the police and Rule 2 is never consent to a search, even if you believe your records to have been maintained in strict compliance.
Published by Joshua Prince, Esq.
With our 2nd Amendment rights being attacked at both the Federal and State level, and the ATF (Burea of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) trying to close down FFLs (Federal Firearms Licensees) for minor infractions while making FFLs the scapegoat when the ATF's records are inaccurate, I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself. I am one of only a handful of attorneys across the US that practices in the niche area of law known as firearms law. I decided to concentrate my legal practice on firearms law not only because I am a shooter and firearms enthusiast, but also to ensure that our inalienable Right to Keep and Bear Arms is never encroached upon.
I handle cases at the Federal and State level for both FFLs and individuals. At the federal and state levels for individuals, I actively defend the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution and Section 21 of the PA Constitution, as well as, help individuals with:
- License to Carry Firearms Denials;
- Challenges to Erroneous PICS Denials;
- Relief from Firearms Disabilities;
- Estate Planning Advice;
- Gun/NFA Trusts; and
- 42 USC 1983 Actions for Deprivation of Civil Rights
At both the state and federal levels, I represent FFLs and SOTs throughout Pennsylvania and the US regarding:
- ATF Compliance Inspections;
- Warning Letters and Hearings;
- FFL Revocations;
- Corporate Structure Advice
- Indoor/Outdoor Range Implementation; and
- Forfeiture Proceedings
In following my love for firearms and firearms law, I have taught several Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminars on Firearms in Estates and Trusts and Firearms Law 101 for several Bar Associations, including Berks, Cumberland, and Dauphin Counties. I also planned and taught several Firearms in Estates CLE classes for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute (PBI).
While at Widener Law School, I was a member of the Widener Law Journal. I wrote an article on the Inaccuracy of the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR). I also had an article published on Fee Disputes in Workers Compensation cases in the Widener Law Journal, Volume 18, No. 2.
You can often find me posting on several internet forums, including Subguns, Uzitalk, AR15, and PAFOA. I also hold PA Firearms Law classes for local ranges to inform the public on the firearm laws of the Commonwealth.
Following in my father's footsteps, I am also a Board member for the Pottstown Police Athletic League (PAL).
View all posts by Joshua Prince, Esq.
8 thoughts on “ALERT – PA FFLs, PSP Has No Authority To Conduct Inspections”
Can you tell me the status of Bill on 166? Please advise Thank you
What records was the PSP demanding to inspect, in the cases you referenced?
All records including ATF 4473s. Even reviewing their own forms, regardless of 37 Pa.Code. 33.116(c), is unlawful, as 6109(m.3) restricts the PSP from regulating inconsistently with the Uniform Firearms Act and the General Assembly NEVER allowed for warrantless searches and inspections. Furthermore, if such was constitutional, then I guess we can assume the PSP can require everyone who obtains an LTCF to consent to searches of their person; PA Department of Motor vehicles can start requiring everyone with a driver’s license to consent to searches of their cars; the Dept of State can require every entity that registers to consent to searches of the business premise; and Department of Revenue can require everyone who files taxes to consent to searches of their financial records….just to name a few.
Looks like a lawsuit in waiting.
In the case where the business is operated from the home, are the police governed by the same guidelines as the ATF in that they can only inspect areas directly related to operating of the business/business activities or are they allowed to search the entire premises? Also, are they bound by the hours of operation like the ATF are?
My local FFL has been undergoing a 2-3 day state police audit for about a month now.