Today, Chief Counsel Joshua Prince, assisted by Attorney Dillon Harris, secured a monumental 31 page decision from the Commonwealth Court, en banc (meaning before the entire Court), written by Judge Patricia McCullough, in Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC), et al., v. City of Pittsburgh, et al. in relation to Pittsburgh’s illegal firearm ordinances, which Chief Counsel Prince was previously successful in having ruled unlawful.
Today’s decision affirms the trial court’s ruling that all of the ordinances, in their entirety, were unlawful and preempted by 18 Pa.C.S. 6120 and even acknowledges that “then Mayor of the City, Bill Peduto, acknowledged that he and the City Council lacked the authority to enact the Ordinances and that such authority would require that they ‘change the laws in Harrisburg.'”
Explaining the breadth of Section 6120, Judge McCullough wrote on behalf of the Court:
[S]ection 6120(a) of the UFA contains a prolific, sweeping, and expansive force of preemption and the cases strongly suggest that an ordinance will be preempted so long as it touches upon or relates to the field of firearm regulation “in any manner.”…
Upon reexamining the language of section 6120(a) of the UFA, we reinforce the broad explications made by the Courts in Ortiz, Hicks, and Clarke with the observation that the statute’s phrase “in any manner” is ecliptic in nature, connoting a connection, inter alia, with either or both of the acts or rights associated with the “ownership” or “possession” of a firearm.
The Court then goes on to declare
For these reasons, we hold that the primary operative provisions of the Ordinances, specifically section 1102.2 of the AW Ordinance, section 1104.3 of the LCM Ordinance, and section 1107.04 of the ER Ordinance, are preempted by section 6120(a) of the UFA
Unfortunately, there was a Concurring and Dissenting Opinion issued by Judge Ellen Ceisler and joined by Judges Cohn Jubelirer and Wojcik contending that while they are bound by prior precedent, they would hold, contrary to that precedent, that preemption is limited to “ownership, possession, transfer, and transportation” of firearms and go so far as to contend that Article 1, Section 21 has “no [preemptive] basis in law, as ‘[t]he right to bear arms, although a constitutional right, is not unlimited, and . . . may be restricted in the exercise of the police power for the good order of society and the protection of the citizens.’” Of course, the Concurring and Dissenting Opinion fails to address, as was addressed in the briefing, Article 1, Section 25, which makes all rights enumerated in Article 1, inviolate and exempted out of the power of the General Assembly. The Concurring and Dissenting Opinion then goes on, in requesting that the Supreme Court eviscerate our three branches of Government by becoming legislative branch, by declaring “I urge our Supreme Court to either overturn or rein in the reach of Ortiz.”
Judge McCullough’s majority opinion correctly responds to the Concurring and Dissenting Opinion (CDO) with:
Obviously, this Court is bound to follow the precedent of our Supreme Court, and the broad, policy-based arguments made by the CDO are issues reserved to the General Assembly to address as the policy making branch of our government. (emphasis added)
If you or someone you know has been the victim of an unlawful municipal firearm or ammunition regulation or ordinance, contact FICG today to discuss your options.
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