Category Archives: Firearms Law

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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Violating Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act by Denying Sales of Firearms and Ammunition to Those Under 21 Years of Age?

Recently, numerous companies, including Dicks, Walmart, and even Pennsylvania-based Dunkelberger’s Sports Outfitters, started refusing to sell rifles and shotguns to individuals between the ages of 18 and 21, seemingly in violation of Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act.

Before addressing PA’s Human Relations Act, let’s review Pennsylvania’s constitutional provisions. First and foremost, Article 1, Section 1 – Inherent rights of mankind – provides:

All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing and protecting property and reputation, and of pursuing their own happiness.

Article 1, Section 21 – Right to bear arms – provides:

The right of the citizens to bear arms in defence of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.

More importantly and frequently overlooked, Article 1, Section 25 – Reservation of powers in people – provides:

To guard against transgressions of the high powers which we have delegated, we declare that everything in this article is excepted out of the general powers of government and shall forever remain inviolate.

Accordingly, the rights acknowledged by Article 1, Sections 1 through 24, including the right to self defense, the ability to acquire property and the right to bear arms, are inalienable as acknowledged by the Constitution.

In turning to PA’s Human Relations Act, the Findings in Section 952 provide, inter alia,

The practice or policy of discrimination against individuals or groups by reason of their race, color, familial status, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex, national origin, handicap or disability, … is a matter of concern of the Commonwealth. Such discrimination foments domestic strife and unrest, threatens the rights and privileges of the inhabitants of the Commonwealth, and undermines the foundations of a free democratic state.

Section 953 then goes on to provide, inter alia, that:

The opportunity for an individual … to obtain all the accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any public accommodation … without discrimination because of race, color, familial status, religious creed, ancestry, handicap or disability, age, sex, national origin, … is hereby recognized as and declared to be a civil right which shall be enforceable as set forth in this act.

For those wondering what all is included as a public accommodation, it includes, in addition to a plethora of other entities, “retail stores and establishments.

Anyone aggrieved under the PA Human Relations Act can file a complaint for discrimination with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

Hopefully, these retailers will reconsider their age-based policies denying individuals their inalienable rights to bear arms and to defend themselves.

If you or someone you know has been denied your right to keep and bear arms, 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.


Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law

President Trump and Vice President Pence to Lose Second Amendment Rights

Yesterday, President Trump stated that “[i]t takes so long to go to court to get the due process procedures, I like taking the guns early. Take the guns first, go through due process second” seemingly without consideration for what he was proposing or the impact on his and Vice President Pence’s Second Amendment rights.

What am I talking about?

Well, someone needs to be living under a rock to have missed all the unsubstantiated allegations regarding the President’s mental health during his candidacy and presidency. In fact, there is even a book by Brandy X Lee – The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President – in which these putative experts contend that President Trump suffers from varying and differing mental health conditions. More recently, Joy Behar claimed that Vice President Pence was mentally ill, because of his religious convictions in speaking with Jesus.

But what does this have to do with the President’s comment?

Well, he seemingly ignores the fact that absent due process, both his and Vice President Pence’s Second Amendment rights could be stripped, absent even their knowledge or opportunity to be heard, because of someone’s – potentially vindictive and even baseless – views or beliefs. See, that is what due process protects against – or at least is suppose to protect against. While we can argue about the level of due process and whether the courts place appropriate consideration on the evidence before depriving someone of a constitutional right, the right to be heard against allegations is a fundamental tenet of our Founding Constitutional Agreement.

As our viewers know, I recently litigated a case in the United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania, where Judge Kim Gibson found that a Section 302 evaluation under the Pennsylvania Mental Health and Procedures Act was not sufficient to trigger a federal prohibition, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(4), due to the lack of due process provided the individual. There, like what is seemingly being proposed by the President, the Government contended that an individual was stripped of his right to Keep and Bear Arms – an inalienable right that is acknowledged by the Constitution – as a result of a doctor merely signing a form, in the absence of the individual being provided any of the tenets of due process, including having an opportunity to confront those speaking against him/her. More specifically, the individual is not (1) provided an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses nor have a witness testify on his/her behalf; (2) provided an opportunity to challenge evidence nor submit evidence in support of his/her position; (3) provided counsel; or (4) provided a neutral arbiter, since the doctor is paid by the hospital and there are, unfortunately, financial incentives for a hospital to keep an individual for further evaluation.

Could you imagine the outrage if there was a proposal that would permit someone, even the President, to be stripped of his/her First Amendment rights, in the absence of due process, because someone believed that the person suffered from a mental illness, regardless of how baselessness of the claim? Speaking of which, why do we permit a person who has been involuntarily committed to be a reporter? And with all the talk about raising the age to 21 to purchase any firearm, why aren’t we talking about equal application of the law to all constitutional provisions? If its okay to restrict an individual’s constitutional right to Keep and Bear Arms, why aren’t we also restricting his/her First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment rights, until the person is 21? That’s right, such would be unconstitutional and as Justice Thomas recently stated in his dissent to the denial of certiorari in Jeff Silvester, et al. v. Xavier Becerra, Attorney General of California

it seems, rights that have no basis in the Constitution receive greater protection than the Second Amendment, which is enumerated in the text. Our continued refusal to hear Second Amendment cases only enables this kind of defiance.

Because I still believe that the Second Amendment cannot be “singled out for special—and specially unfavorable—treatment,” I respectfully dissent from the denial of certiorari. (citations omitted)

Given the constitutional issues involved and the likelihood for abuse, Mr. President, I respectfully implore you to reconsider your remarks and thereafter, come out in support of all of our constitutionally acknowledged rights, including opposing any proposal, which would permit any constitutional right to be stripped from an individual in the absence of due process.


Filed under Firearms Law

Join the Fight to Stop the Regulation of Bump Stocks

As many of our clients and viewers are aware, Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) a division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., has submitted substantial comments in opposition to rulemaking entered into by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and spearheaded the opposition to ATF-41P. Unfortunately, as it appears that ATF intends to move forward expeditiously with a proposed rule in relation to bump stocks (and potentially other firearm accessories which purportedly permit or result in higher cyclic rates by the operator), we’re asking for your support so that we can prepare a comprehensive comment with appropriate expert reports, so that if ATF enacts any form of regulation, we will be able to challenge it in court.

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Although we do not yet have the text of any proposed rule, we already know that ATF intends to propose a rule, which will ban, at a minimum, bump stocks. There are also concerns, depending on the language proposed by ATF, whether it could impact competition triggers and other tangentially related parts and accessories. Hence, it is imperative that we begin retaining experts to provide expert opinion on functionality of bump stocks and other parts and accessories, which could be included in any proposed rule. We also must begin formulating all arguments in opposition so that we can ensure that all issues can later be raised in court, if necessary.

Thus, we have set up a page on our website – Challenging Bump Stock Rulemaking – where we have further information about the issue. Unfortunately, we can’t do this without your support. Unlike the Government, we don’t have unlimited funds at our disposal.

Anyone wishing to donate can:

  • Pay via our secure website: Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C. – Please place “Bump Stock Regulation” in the reference field
  • Mail donations to: Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., 646 Lenape Rd, Bechtelsville, PA 19505; or,
  • Call our office at 888-202-9297.

When submitting your donation, please include a note or inform the staff that you are donating in relation to the Bump Stock Regulation.

For those interested in some of the comments that FICG has drafted and filed on behalf of Industry Members and itself in opposition to rulemaking by ATF, see:

FICG Files Comment in Opposition to ATF – 41P – ATF’s proposed (and later enacted) rule to impose additional burdens on fictitious entity applications.

FICG Files Comment on behalf of David Goldman, Esq. of in Opposition to ATF-41P

FICG Files Comment in Opposition to ATF 51P – ATF’s proposed rule to ATF’s to amend the definitions of “adjudicated as a mental defective” and “committed to a mental institution.”

FICG Files Comment in Opposition to ATF 29P on Behalf of Dead Air Armament – ATF’s advanced notice of proposed rulemaking regarding silencer engravings.

FICG Files Comment in Opposition to ATF’s Proposed Changes to the 4473 Form



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.

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Supreme Court Denies Certiorari in ANOTHER Second Amendment Case


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).


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.


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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Filed under Firearms Law, Uncategorized

After an Arrest in Pennsylvania, You Get a Free Phone Call, Right? Well, Not Exactly…

Having watched a lot of Law & Order, most individuals believe that upon arrest, they will be provided at least one free phone call but that isn’t exactly true in Pennsylvania.

Upon arrest, there is no immediate right to a phone call in Pennsylvania. Within a reasonable time of being arrested, the Police officer must either release the defendant or bring the defendant before a Magisterial District Judge to be preliminarily arraigned on charges.

What is a reasonable time? Unfortunately, this is has never been strictly defined in PA and has varied on a case by case basis. One day is generally accepted to be the longest acceptable time to be held without being arraigned.

Moreover, the police do have the authority to arrest people and then release them to be charged later by citation or summons. This type of arrest and release is only allowed in public drunkenness and DUI cases, or in cases in which the individual cannot immediately verify their identity.

There is no right to call anyone during that period of time.

If the police do choose to question a defendant, the individual’s Miranda Rights are implicated. The police must advise a defendant of those rights, including the right to counsel. If a defendant invokes his right to counsel (which you should ALWAYS do IMMEDIATELY, regardless of what the police threaten you with or promised to you), questioning must cease, although there are plenty of examples where the police or a different police officer continues asking questions. In our experience, in most instances, the police will simply end questioning upon invocation of counsel and will not give a defendant an opportunity to obtain counsel.

After the police prepare the charges, a defendant will be brought before a Magisterial District Judge for preliminary arraignment. A defendant does not have a right to contact anyone, including counsel, before or at arraignment. Some judges have also made it difficult for lawyers who know that their client has been arrested to appear at preliminary arraignment (we believe that this a violation of the 6th amendment but have never had a chance to litigate it).

However, after preliminary arraignment, a defendant does have a right to contact individuals, including his/her attorney. The Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 540 states:

 (H)  After the preliminary arraignment, if the defendant is detained, the defendant shall be given an immediate and reasonable opportunity to post bail, secure counsel, and notify others of the arrest. Thereafter, if the defendant does not post bail, he or she shall be committed to jail as provided by law.

There is no case law interpreting this provision.

At this point, depending on the county, the defendant may be held in custody by the police, the sheriff or a constable. In our experience, the magisterial district judge will normally allow for multiple phone calls.

But, what if my attorney’s phone number is in my wallet or on my phone? Generally, a Judge will allow a defendant to review his/her cell phone or wallet for any phone numbers. We have also seen cases in which the Judge will allow a defendant to use a phone book or will direct court staff to do an internet search to get a phone number. We’ve also seen judges put a defendant in a room with a phone and tell them that they have 15 minutes to call whoever they want.

The only time that we have seen a defendant not be allowed to check their cell phone is if the phone may constitute or contain evidence of a crime. For example, drug dealers often exchange text messages about drug deals. A court would not give a defendant the chance to delete text messages.

So, while there is no obligation to allow a defendant to have access to a wallet or cell phone, the arraigning court does regularly allow it. Even if a defendant is not given that access, they can certainly use a phone book to look up their attorney’s number, or they can call a family member or have a family member call their attorney.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, contact Prince Law Offices, P.C. today to discuss YOUR rights and legal options.

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New PA Hunting Law Precludes Revocation of Hunting Licenses

Yesterday, Governor Wolf signed HB 359 into law, which will take effect in 60 days and provides protections for hunters, (1) where they mistakenly kill a bear or elk, (2) where they are erroneously hunting in the wrong area and take a game animal that is out of season, and (3) where the hunter is current on a payment plan established by a court.

Currently, in relation to revocation of hunting privilege, Section 930 provides:

All privileges granted by this title shall automatically be suspended if a defendant fails to respond to a citation or summons within 60 days or fails to pay all penalties in full within 180 days following conviction.

As a result of HB 359, Section 930 will now have a subsection (b), which provides:

(b) Payment Plan – If a Defendant is enrolled in a payment plan to repay penalties mandated by a court of competent jurisdiction and the defendant is making regular payments in accordance with the court’s mandate, the privileges of this title may not be suspended.

Also, Section 2306 – Killing game or wildlife by mistake – has been amended by including restitution amounts of $100.00 for any bear or elk that is mistakenly killed.

More importantly, Section 2742 – Period of Revocation – has been amended with a new subsection (c), which provides:

(c) Clemency from revocation.–The commission shall not revoke the privilege to hunt or take game or wildlife anywhere in this Commonwealth for an unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife violation if all of the following conditions are met:
(1) The unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife violation is the person’s first unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife offense.
(2) The person complies with all of the procedural requirements set forth in section 2306(b)(1), (2) or (3) (relating to killing game or wildlife by mistake) concerning removal of entrails, tagging, reporting, delivery of carcass and providing a written, sworn statement.

(3) The unlawful taking of game or wildlife violation occurs during: (i) an open season within the applicable wildlife management unit for the species involved; or (ii) a closed season within the applicable wildlife management unit for the species involved, but only if there was an open season within an adjacent wildlife management unit for the same species.

(4) The person pleads guilty to the applicable unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife violation charged.

(5) The unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife violation does not involve a threatened or endangered species.

(6) There are no relevant aggravating circumstances present concerning the unlawful taking or possession of game or wildlife violation.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a game violation, 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.



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