District Attorney Stedman Issues Firearm Preemption Letter

Today, I obtained a copy of a letter that Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman issued regarding unlawful ordinances in violation of Pennsylvania’s preemption statute, which was sent to all the police departments in Lancaster County, as a result of my recent success in Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC) v. Lower Merion Township.

As our viewers are aware, 18 Pa.C.S. § 6120 provides, inter alia,

No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth.

The case law, including from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, has been “crystal clear” than only the General Assembly can regulate firearms and ammunition, as the entire field is preempted. See, Nat’l Rifle Ass’n v. City of Philadelphia, 977 A.2d 78, 82 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2009). In FOAC v. Lower Merion Township, the Commonwealth Court held that, inter alia, the township’s discharge ordinance was unlawful due to state preemption. See, FOAC v. Lower Merion Township, 151 A.3d 1172 (Pa. Cmwlth. Ct. 2016) (petition for allocatur denied July 11, 2017 ).

As a result, District Attorney Stedman issued a letter to all Lancaster County police departments reminding them than any local ordinances regulating firearms and ammunition are unlawful. Specifically, he unequivocally stated:

The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court held, appropriately, that any such county, municipal, or township ordinance designed to regulate firearms is specifically preempted by the Pennsylvania Constitution and 18 § 6120 of the Uniform Firearms Act. (emphasis added)

And that

the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has clearly denied all municipalities the power to regulate firearms and the Uniform Firearms Act prohibits a township from regulation concerning the ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms or ammunition “in any manner”, to include ordinances on parks. (emphasis added).

Because of District Attorney Stedman’s prior commitment and dedication to the Second Amendment and Article 1, Section 21, I previously endorsed him for Judge of the Superior Court and this letter has only solidified in my mind that my prior endorsement was proper.

As such, I am respectfully asking that you vote for him in November to ensure that our inalienable rights are protected.

To learn more about Craig Stedman for Superior Court, check out his website and Facebook page. Obviously, if you are in a financial position to be able to donate to his campaign, I am sure he would greatly appreciate support!

If your rights have been violated by an illegal firearm or ammunition ordinance or regulation promulgated by a state agency, county, municipality or township, contact Firearms Industry Consulting Group today to discuss YOUR rights and legal options.


Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademark and division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., with rights and permissions granted to Prince Law Offices, P.C. to use in this article.

11 thoughts on “District Attorney Stedman Issues Firearm Preemption Letter

  1. Sir (s):

    Does this mean that city’s such as (Greenville) Pennsylvania cannot prohibit the open carry of firearms within the city limits?
    Does this also affect the city of Philadelphia which I understand to have a zero weapons tolerance policy? You can be cited or
    arrested for having firearms even locked and stored properly in you vehicle is my understanding of the city law.

    Are those types of laws now (and have they been) against the rule of the state constitution and the second amendment?

    Thank you


    William R. Clapie



  2. Ever since preemption existed (i.e. 1974), local firearm (and later) ammunition regulations have been unlawful and unenforceable. That doesn’t mean that some municipalities won’t attempt to enforce an unlawful ordinance, as was the case in Dillon v. City of Erie (https://blog.princelaw.com/2014/02/28/preliminary-and-permanent-injunction-granted-against-the-city-of-erie/); however, if they do, any charges should be dismissed and the aggrieved individual may have a civil rights action against the municipality.


  3. If a law enforcement officer attempts to enforce an unlawful ordinance, s/he and the municipal regulators whom voted to pass the ordinance have engaged in criminal activity. The clarity and magnitude of 53 Pa.C.S. 2962(g) far exceeds 18 Pa.C.S. 6120: “(g) Regulation of firearms.–A municipality shall not enact any ordinance or take any other action dealing with the regulation of the transfer, ownership, transportation or possession of firearms.” (However, I do note that this otherwise superior section of statute does not go so far as mentioning ammunition.) I believe that proving the elements of official oppression are not particularly tough so long as you do the legwork. If you see a municipality about to pass such an ordinance, or inform the players involved who did, and:
    1) they either pass the new ordinance or fail to rescind without unreasonable delay the one already passed,
    2) you have gone out of your way to show them the provisions of 53 Pa.C.S. 2962(g) and/or 18 Pa.C.S. 6120,
    3) you are subject to illegal action by a law enforcement in the purported execution of such a ordinance, and
    4) you go out of your way to show him/her the provisions of 53 Pa.C.S. 2962(g) and/or 18 Pa.C.S. 6120,
    you have covered the worst part of having to try to prove official oppression, which is “knowing that his conduct is illegal”.
    If the person is a knowing agent of a municipality, and you have made sure to inform the players involve that there is law prohibiting their conduct and that they have engaged or are about to engage in it, and you can make mention any of the myriad of words they use for which unlawful interference by officials is prohibited, and you can show a concrete injury or loss, however slight, you or a district attorney should be able to successfully prosecute the official.
    Of course, I remind you that recording public officials in public places where they have no reasonable expectation of non-interception (and I wonder who does in an age where everyone carries cellphones and picks up calls with abandon, where they or the party at the other end of the line could be recording…) is a prime way of collecting evidence. I believe the Pa. Supreme Court, or perhaps the Superior, ruled that words said that transverse walls without requiring special hearing instruments to hear are subject to interception as well. Know your public places well!
    As for an official creating a misdemeanor breach of the peace in the course of the official oppression, there may be a power of the citizen to arrest, whether he be victim or bystander observing the breach of the peace, supposing the citizen’s arrest precedes that by the officer. Whether the Pa. Rules of Criminal Procedure have relegated that to felony-with-probable-cause only, I will have to check. But this is an elucidation for another day. (Found a source that said the Pa. Legislative Reference Bureau put together a little review of citizen arrest subject matter. I am interested to get my hands on this.)
    If criminals violate the administration of justice, let’s simply get them out of office and invite in someone whom can follow the law — or, if no human could follow it, to fix it so that we might follow it. If we cannot do even that job, we don’t deserve the protections of government until we step up and find the virtue that liberty avails to us all.


  4. Letter dated August 28, 2017 ? And how long has Lancaster City had it’s illegal, lost and stolen gun law ? Five plus years ? And so finally DA Craig Stedman is getting around to notifying local law enforcement ? Now that he is running for judge and finally sees the benefits of actually doing his job ? Sorry Craig, you want to impress me that you really have a passion for the Second Amendment ? Announce today you are filing criminal charges against anti-gun bigot Mayor Rick Gray and his rubber stamp City Council. Otherwise, your newfound passion is pretty lukewarm, your ability to appease the politically powerful for your own career interests, at the expense of those you serve, disappointing; Both deserving not one vote for judge.


  5. The taxpayers on the hook?
    The taxpayers are always on the hook.

    That’s because you always get the government that you vote for.


    1. “ you get the government you voted for”, or more likely the government you didn’t vote against. The reply might be late in coming, but in PA., December is usually a chilly month.


  6. Since Craig Stedman’s latest abuse of process / malicious prosecution against me/my family in Comm. V. Kirchner, it now appears illegal to own a finger in Lancaster County, let alone carry a gun. What a grandstander.


    1. With proper and competent counsel, a motion to reconsider could be filed within 14 days of the decision and if unsuccessful, a petition for allocator filed with the PA Supreme Court. Of course, a large part will depend on the issues raised vs. waived, such as the 1st Amendment.


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