Author Archives: Adam Kraut, Esq.

About Adam Kraut, Esq.

Adam Kraut was born and raised in Chester County, PA. Active in scouting since kindergarten, Adam achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in 2004. After graduating high school, Adam attended SUNY Binghamton where he graduated in 2009 with a major in Political Science concentrating in politics and law. After taking a year away from academics, Adam attended Widener Law School at night while maintaining a day job and graduated in 2014. Adam is an avid firearms enthusiast, whose love for firearms began in Boy Scouts at Camp Horseshoe. Adam’s experience in the firearms industry as the general manager of a Federal Firearms Licensee, who is a Class 3 dealer, gives him a working knowledge of the challenges the industry, licensees and individuals face on a daily basis. Having worked with industry leaders, individual licensees and individuals both from behind the counter and in a legal context, Adam is in a unique position to give advice with insight others may not have. In addition to being active in the courtroom, Adam is politically active to ensure that the Second Amendment rights of future generations continue to be protected. He is the host of The Gun Collective‘s show, The Legal Brief, where he dispels the various legal myths and misinformation in the gun world. Adam is also a frequent guest on The Firearms Radio Network‘s This Week in Guns podcast. In his free time, Adam volunteers with his old Boy Scout troop, cranks out ammunition behind the reloading press, can be found at the range training, enjoys hiking through the woods and cares for his small pack of dogs. Adam lives in Chester County, PA with his girlfriend and three rescue dogs.

PA Attorney General Reviews Reciprocity Agreements and Nixes Virginia

On Monday, PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro held a press conference wherein he “announced his office ha[d] completed an exhaustive review of concealed carry reciprocity agreements with all 49 other states, as required under Pennsylvania law.” Notably, the Attorney General’s website has been updated with a handy chart.

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The announcement specified that Pennsylvania now recognizes the licenses of 29 other states (previously it was 28). Notably, Idaho and Alabama were added to the recognized states. However, Virginia was removed. As of May 16, 2018, Virginia residents will no longer be able to carry in Pennsylvania pursuant to a Virginia Concealed Handgun Permit.

Pouring salt into an already open wound, the Attorney General has also specified that non-resident permits will no longer be recognized in PA. Which means that in order to lawfully carry a concealed firearm in Pennsylvania, according to the Attorney General, you must be a resident of the state which has issued the license and be over twenty-one years of age.

There are two manners in which Pennsylvania recognizes reciprocity. The first is found in 18 Pa.C.S. § 6106(b)(15) and allows the Attorney General to recognize, without a written agreement, another state’s license. This is predicated on the condition that the other state recognizes Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms (“LTCF”) and that the laws governing firearms in that state are sufficiently similar to Pennsylvania’s.

The other manner is by written agreement. 18 Pa.C.S. § 6019(k)(1) provides:

The Attorney General shall have the power and duty to enter into reciprocity agreements with other states providing for the mutual recognition of a license to carry a firearm issued by the Commonwealth and a license or permit to carry a firearm issued by the other state. To carry out this duty, the Attorney General is authorized to negotiate reciprocity agreements and grant recognition of a license or permit to carry a firearm issued by another state.

Virginia and Pennsylvania had entered into a written reciprocity agreement on January 3, 2007. The agreement was amended on March 15, 2013 during the tenure of disgraced former Attorney General, now convicted felon, Kathleen Kane. Notably, the statute is silent as to the ability of the Attorney General to rescind a reciprocity agreement. However, that does not appear to have stopped Attorney General Shapiro.

Moreover, Section 6109(k)(2) requires that “[t]he Attorney General shall report to the General Assembly within 180 days of the effective date of this paragraph and annually thereafter concerning the agreements which have been consummated under this subsection.” (emphasis added). Based on the plain language of the statute, it would seem the General Assembly wished to be apprised of the states with which the Attorney General entered into written reciprocity agreements on an annual basis. Further, this would imply that if the General Assembly believed the agreement to be inappropriate, it could act to revoke its status, rather than leaving that to the discretion of the Attorney General.

Below is a list of states that Pennsylvania recognizes the permits of. You can find more information in the PDF provided by the Office of the Attorney General here.

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With PA Representative Sims Censoring Pro-Second Amendment Comments, FICG Files Letters of Objection with House Judiciary Committee Members

Earlier today, Attorney Joshua Prince and Adam Kraut sent letters to the Chairman of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Judiciary Committee and all of its members regarding the current proceedings pertaining to gun control legislation.

They encourage you all to contact the Chairman and members of the Committee to demand further hearings with input from the citizens of the Commonwealth. For more information, see Attorney Prince’s prior blog article here.

Attorneys Prince and Kraut request all Pennsylvanians to join them on Monday April 30th at 10 AM in the rotunda of the Capitol Building in Harrisburg for the Annual Pennsylvania Right to Keep and Bear Arms Rally. Attorney Prince is scheduled to speak at the event.

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ATF Publishes Notice of Proposed Rulemaking RE: Bump-Stock-Type Devices

Today the ATF published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding Bump-Stock-Type Devices. The comment period is open for 90 days, making comments due on or before June 27, 2018.

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The proposed rule would alter the definition of a machine gun in the regulations pertaining to the National Firearms Act (27 C.F.R. § 479.1, et seq.), the Gun Control Act (27 C.F.R. § 478.1, et seq.), and the Arms Export Control Act (27 C.F.R. § 447.1, et seq.).

Currently, the definition of a machine gun (in the GCA and NFA regulations) is

Any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. The term shall also include the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any part designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in converting a weapon into a machine gun, and any combination of parts from which a machine gun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.

This change would alter the definition to include the following language

For purposes of this definition, the term “automatically” as it modifies “shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot,” means functioning as the result of a self-acting or self-regulating mechanism that allows the firing of multiple rounds through a single function of the trigger; and “single function of the trigger” means a single pull of the trigger. The term “machine gun” includes bump-stock-type devices, i.e., devices that allow a semiautomatic firearm to shoot more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger by harnessing the recoil energy of the semiautomatic firearm to which it is affixed so that the trigger resets and continues firing without additional physical manipulation of the trigger by the shooter.

If you are interested in submitting a comment in opposition to the proposed rule, you may do so by visiting www.regulations.gov and searching the docket “ATF 2017R-22”. (Updated with link: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=ATF-2018-0001-35714) If you wish to stay up to date on issues relating to this infringement of our rights, join the Facebook page Americans Opposed to ATF 2017R-22, where we will post updates and our submitted comments, as they become available. (Make sure to select “See First” from the Following tab to ensure that you see all of the posts)

All comments must reference the docket number ATF 2017R-22, be legible, and include the commenter’s complete first and last name and full mailing address. ATF will not consider, or respond to, comments that do not meet these requirements or comments containing profanity. In addition, if ATF cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, ATF may not be able to consider your comment.

Firearms Policy Coalition has retained Joshua Prince and myself to draft a comment in opposition on their behalf. To learn more visit: www.defendgunparts.com and Americans Opposes to ATF 2017R-22

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Omnibus Spending Bill, H.R. 3354, Passes House and Provides Funding for Federal Firearms Relief Determinations – IN SENATE

Once again the House omnibus appropriations bill, H.R. 3354, provides funding for ATF to conduct federal firearms relief determinations under 18 U.S.C. § 925(c). Since 1992, Congress has specifically denied ATF the ability to utilize any funds they are appropriated to conduct these determinations. Further, ATF will not allow an individual to fund their own hearing, rendering a person’s options for relief at the federal level limited to Second Amendment as-applied challenges and/or presidential pardons.

 

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It is important that you contact your Senators immediately and demand they pass the bill with the funding for federal firearms relief determinations in the final language.

Who is My Senator?

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If this bill were to pass with funding reinstated for the program, thousands of individuals who are currently prohibited may be able to once again exercise their Second Amendment rights.

 

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Supreme Court Denies Certiorari in ANOTHER Second Amendment Case

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Once again the Supreme Court has denied certiorari in another Second Amendment Case. Silvester, et al. v. Becerra was an appeal from the 9th Circuit challenging California’s 10-day waiting period to firearm purchasers. In particular, the petition for certiorari raised the issue of whether the 9th Circuit “improperly applied lenient scrutiny in a Second Amendment challenge to the application of California’s full 10-day waiting period to firearm purchasers who pass their background check in fewer than 10 days and already own another firearm or have a concealed carry license; and (2) whether the Supreme Court should exercise its supervisory powers to cabin the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit’s concerted resistance to and disregard of the Supreme Court’s Second Amendment decisions.” (SCOTUS Blog Case Summary).

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Justice Thomas, once again, issued a scathing dissent from the denial of certiorari.  He noted that the analysis the 9th Circuit employed was “indistinguishable from rational-basis review.” For those readers unfamiliar with the levels of scrutiny, rational-basis is the lowest standard a court employs with respect to constitutional rights.

 …it is symptomatic of the lower courts’ general failure to afford the Second Amendment the respect due an enumerated constitutional right.

Justice Thomas continues “[i]f a lower court treated another right so cavalierly, I have little doubt that this Court would intervene. But as evidenced by our continued inaction in this area, the Second Amendment is a disfavored right in this Court.”

Petitioners Jeff Silvester and Brandon Combs (Firearms Policy Coalition) brought suit challenging California’s 10 day waiting period under the Second Amendment, specifically that the waiting period was unconstitutional as applied to “subsequent purchasers”. The District Court entered a judgment for the Petitioners.

The District Court, after applying an intermediate scrutiny analysis, found that the waiting period was not reasonably tailored to promote an important government interest. It is at the District Court that findings of fact occur. The Court found, among other things, that twenty percent of background checks are auto-approved and took less than two hours to complete. Silvester v. Harris, 41 F. Supp. 3d 927, 964 (ED Cal. 2014). It also found that the arguments for the “cooling off period”, while novel, were inconclusive as to their effectiveness. Id at 954-955. The Court noted that the studies presented by the government, seemed “to assume that the individual does not already possess a firearm.” Id. at 966.

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California, unsurprsingly, appealed the decision to the 9th Circuit, which reversed the District Court’s judgment, upholding the 10 day wait period. The 9th Circuit, claimed to have applied intermediate scrutiny, but as Justice Thomas noted, “its analysis did not resemble anything approaching that standard.” Perhaps most egregious is that the 9th Circuit did not defer to the District Court’s findings of fact.

The Ninth Circuit’s deviation from ordinary principles of law is unfortunate, though not surprising. Its dismissive treatment of petitioners’ challenge is emblematic of a larger trend. As I have previously explained, the lower courts are resisting this Court’s decisions in Heller and McDonald and are failing to protect the Second Amendment to the same extent that they protect other constitutional rights. (emphasis added).

The dissent shows Justice Thomas’s frustration with the Supreme Court’s continued denial of certiorari in Second Amendment matters. “The right to keep and bear arms is apparently this Court’s constitutional orphan. And the lower courts seem to have gotten the message.”

Time will tell if the Court opts to pick up a Second Amendment challenge in the future. Justice Gorsuch joined Justice Thomas in his dissent from the denial of certiorari in Peruta v. California, signaling that he too believes Second Amendment issues are ripe for discussion.

 

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Pennsylvania State Police Reiterate ATF Position on Medicinal Marijuana

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It should come to no surprise that the Pennsylvania State Police (“PSP”) have issued a position statement in relation to Pennsylvania’s new card carrying medicinal marijuana users. Once again, individuals who seek to use marijuana for medicinal purposes are forced to choose between the comfort they find in medicine or their constitutional rights.

Marijuana is still a Schedule I narcotic under federal law, which means that regardless of what state law says, at the federal level, it is still illegal to possess. Medicinal marijuana has grown in popularity since California legalized it in 1996 with a majority of states legalizing it in some form. However, the federal government has not taken any action to legalize it for medicinal purposes and DEA recently declined to reclassify it.

Medical marijuana card holders in Pennsylvania should take note of the following. It has been ATF’s position since 2011, that if an individual is merely in possession of a medical marijuana card, they are prohibited from purchasing a firearm. This is based on the theory that the transferor would have “reasonable cause to believe” that the person is an “unlawful user or addicted to a controlled substance.” In other words, it could be inferred that you fit that category by merely possessing a license, regardless of whether you obtained it for actual use or a political statement.

The statement also tells individuals that “[i]t is unlawful for you to attempt to purchase a firearm under Federal law and you will be denied during your Pennsylvania State Police background check, due to prohibitions under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3),” which would seem to suggest that the information of medical marijuana users will be contained in the PSP’s central repository of information and/or sent to NICS.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I have not researched the medical marijuana law to see if that is the case or whether there are HIPAA concerns, etc., this is just a theory.

The PSP also states that an individual is unable to lawfully obtain a License to Carry Firearms (“LTCF”) and that “[t]he sheriff should not process your application if you truthfully indicate to the sheriff that you are the holder of a Medical Marijuana Card.” Moreover, the PSP continue to say “you will be denied during the Pennsylvania State Police background check, which occurs as part of the LTC application or renewal process,” again suggesting information pertaining to medical marijuana users are retained by the PSP and/or transmitted to NICS.

Perhaps most interesting about the PSP’s statement is this

It is unlawful for you to keep possession of any firearms which you owned or had in your possession prior to obtaining a Medical Marijuana Card, and you should consult an attorney about the best way to dispose of your firearms.  Again, this is due to prohibitions under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3).

Essentially, PSP is contending that you are an unlawful user of a controlled substance if you obtain a medical marijuana card. However, possession of a card does not automatically equate to the use of the substance. So for individuals who seek to obtain a medical marijuana card for a political statement, be aware of the PSP’s position on the matter. That is one that will eventually require litigation.

 

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ATF to Publish Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Re: Application of the Definition of Machinegun to “Bump Fire” Stocks and Other Similar Devices

EDIT 3: Publication date is now scheduled for 12/26/2017. Deadline for submissions would be Thursday, January 25, 2018.

EDIT 2: Document has been reposted. Link is working again.

EDIT: It appears the document has been removed “The Office of the Federal Register withdrew this document after it went on public inspection due to technical errors.” I’ll be keeping my eye for a repost.

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Tomorrow, ATF will publish an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the application of the definition of machinegun to “Bump Fire” stocks and other similar devices. As many have feared, it appears that the regulatory agency is soliciting information to help draft a rule which may potentially lump bump fire stocks, binary triggers, etc., within the definition of machinegun.

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Comments are due thirty (30) days from the date of publication in the Federal Register. Assuming that nothing goes awry with the publication tomorrow, that would mean any comment you wish to submit in opposition to this advance notice would need to be submitted by 11:59 PM on Sunday, January 21, 2018 11:59 PM on Thursday, January 25, 2018. While one might expect an extra day to be provided to place the deadline on a Monday, agency rules govern. ATF confirmed via telephone that the deadline was Sunday.

ATF is specifically seeking feedback from consumers regarding the following:

  1. In your experience, where have you seen these devices for sale and which of these has been the most common outlet from which consumers have purchased these devices (e.g., brick and mortar retail stores; online vendors; gun shows or similar events; or private sales between individuals)?
  2. Based on your experience or observations, what is (or has been) the price range for these devices?
  3. For what purposes are the bump stock devices used or advertised?

The ATF has a broad range of questions for manufacturers including:

  1. For what use or uses have you marketed bump stock devices?
  2. If ATF classified bump stock devices as “machineguns” under the Gun Control Act of 1968, as amended, and the National Firearms Act of 1934, as amended, what would you expect to be the impact on your gross receipts for calendar year 2018?
  3. If ATF classified bump stock devices as “machineguns” under the Gun Control Act of 1968, as amended, and the National Firearms Act of 1934, as amended, what other economic impact would you expect (e.g., storage, unsellable inventory)?
  4. If ATF classified bump stock devices as “machineguns” under the Gun Control Act of 1968, as amended, and the National Firearms Act of 1934, as amended, do you believe that there would be a viable (profitable) law-enforcement and/or military market for these devices? If so, please describe that market and your reasons for believing such a viable market exists.

The ATF asks retailers similar questions.

All comments must:

  1. reference docket number 2017R-22;
  2. be legible (I expect most submission will be done electronically); and
  3. include the commenter’s complete first and last name and full mailing address.

ATF will not consider, or respond to, comments that do not meet these requirements or comments containing profanity. In addition, if ATF cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, ATF may not be able to consider your comment.

If you’re a consumer, I suggest you submit a comment to the advance notice of proposed rulemaking. For helpful hints on how to draft a comment, take a look at the information in the article I wrote for Recoil Web, although some of that information would be more applicable for a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

If you represent a manufacturer or a retailer and want to inquire about obtaining services for the drafting of a comment, please contact the office as soon as possible to ensure sufficient time to draft a comment.

 

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