Category Archives: Firearms Law

2018 Appropriations Bill Still Doesn’t Provide Funding For Federal Firearms Relief Determinations – Contact Your U.S. Representatives!

As our viewers are aware, although 18 U.S.C. § 925(c) provides for federal firearm relief determinations, since 1992, the ATF’s appropriation bill – which has been enacted each year thereafter – has provided a restriction on ATF’s use of any of the appropriate money for federal firearms relief determinations. As I reported in 2015, an amendment to the 2016 appropriations bill – H.R. 2578 – was passed, which provided for funding of federal firearm relief determinations. Thereafter, the bill, as amended, was passed by the entire House of Representatives. Unfortunately, due to the late nature of the House passing the bill, when it was received by the Senate, the Senate gutted all the language and replaced it with the language from an appropriations bill that it was working on in the interim. The Senate’s version was later passed by the House, including the provision precluding ATF’s usage of the appropriated money for federal firearms relief determinations.

The House is now working on an appropriations bill for 2018 and although it has been reported to include pro-Second Amendment provisions (which it does and are discussed below), the one provision which has not been modified, is the restriction on the appropriated money being used for federal firearms relief determination. Specifically, it provides that

Provided, That none of the funds appropriated herein shall be available to investigate or act upon applications for relief from Federal firearms disabilities under section 925(c) of title 18, United States Code

Accordingly, I am respectfully requesting that you contact your U.S Representatives and demand that the language in the Fiscal Year 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill be amended to remove the restriction on ATF utilizing the appropriated money for federal firearms relief determinations. In the alternative, if your Representatives push back regarding the cost, then I would respectfully suggest that the language be modified to:

Provided, That none of the funds appropriated herein shall be available to investigate or act upon applications for relief from Federal firearms disabilities under section 925(c) of title 18, United States Code; however, nothing shall preclude an individual from funding his/her own application for relief from Federal firearms disabilities under section 925(c); whereby, the cost to the individual shall not exceed $1,000.00

As this strikes a balance between allowing federal firearms relief determinations to be made and the cost being born by the prohibited person, it is hard to fathom what objection anyone would have to this language.

In relation to the pro-Second Amendment provisions included in the current version of the Fiscal Year 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill,  it would:

  1. Ban the use of funds for the program launched under the Obama administration to require federally licensed firearm dealers in Southwestern Border States to report certain rifle sales to the U.S. government;
  2. Permanently defund any form of unmonitored “gun walking” operations involved in U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s death;
  3. Effectively block the implementation of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty;
  4. Permanently block any attempt by anti-gun groups within the ATF to implement a highly restrictive framework on the importability of shotguns (i.e. any shotgun that was importable before the release of ATF’s 2011 shotgun importability study could not be reclassified as “non-sporting” and therefore banned from importation); and,
  5. Promote the importation of collectible “curio and relic” firearms and facilitate export of certain firearm parts valued at $500 or less to persons in Canada.

Accordingly, please join us in supporting the Fiscal Year 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill, while demanding that the language restricting federal firearms relief determinations be removed.

 

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FICG/Prince Law Offices, P.C.’s Bi-Annual Machinegun Shoot – October 21, 2017!

Firearms Industry Consulting Group (FICG)®, a division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., will be hosting our twelfth bi-annual machine gun shoot at Eastern Lancaster County Rod and Gun Club on October 21, 2017, in celebration of the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution, and Article 1, Section 21 of the PA Constitution. Eastern Lancaster Rod and Gun Club is located at 966 Smyrna Road, Kinzers, PA 17535. It will start at 11am and go until 4pm. From 11am until 2:30pm, it will be unsuppressed and suppressed fire. From 2:30pm until 4pm, only suppressed fire will be allowed. Come on out and meet FICG Chief Counsel and your PA Firearms Lawyer, Joshua Prince, as well as, as other FICG attorneys!

Everyone, over 18 years of age, is welcome to attend. We are sorry but the insurer will not allow anyone under 18 to participate. There will be a small area for observers, under the age of 18, to watch the shoot. The only requirement is that you bring a driver’s license and hearing and eye protection. All attendees will be required to sign a waiver.

There will be several dealers and manufacturers in attendance and which will have some unique firearms for rent that you might not otherwise have an opportunity to shoot. We are still waiting for confirmation of the dealers that will be in attendance and will update this blog, as they confirm. While you are welcome to bring your own firearms and ammunition, it will be up to the owner of the firearm as to whether he/she will permit you to use your ammunition in his/her firearm. The FFLs will be bringing ammunition for purchase, if you need additional or if they require certain types of ammunition to be used in their weapon systems.

Also, Eastern Lancaster County Rod and Gun will be making food and have drinks available, at extremely reasonable prices. There will be breakfast available again this time starting around 9am! Most attendees at the last shoot couldn’t get over how the Club could make any money on the food sold!

All attendees MUST RSVP. To RSVP via facebook, please go here. If you do not have Facebook or are having difficulty, please contact our Tammy Taylor, at ttaylor@princelaw.com.

We are requiring that each person donate at least $10 to the Eastern Lancaster County Rod and Gun Club for their generous permission to use their range. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

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PA Supreme Court Denies Lower Merion Township’s Petition for Allocatur Involving Its Illegal Firearm Regulations

As our viewers are aware from my prior article on January 27, 2017, after the the Commonwealth Court issued its decision in Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC), et al. v. Lower Merion Township, where it held that Lower Merion Township’s preclusion of firearms and discharge in township parks was unlawful, Lower Merion Township filed a Petition for Allowance of Appeal with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which was docketed at 36 MAL 2017.

Today, the PA Supreme Court denied Lower Merion’s Petition for Allowance, therefore making final the Commonwealth Court’s decision in FOAC, et al. v. Lower Merion Township.

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 us today to discuss YOUR rights and legal options.

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PSP PICS System Stripped of Funding for 2017-2018

At midnight last night, in the absence of Governor Wolf taking any action, HB 218 became law, which, inter alia, stripped the Pennsylvania State Police of the $4,575,000 of additional funding sought by the PSP for the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) for 2017-2018.

HB-0218-PICS_Budget_Appropriation-17-06-29-ZERO

As you can see, although the PSP putatively did not have any remaining PICS funds from the 2016-2017 budget (unlike every other appropriation), the PSP has $9.8 million in a restricted account, just for use for PICS and which was generated from PICS. So much for PSP’s argument that they lose money in relation to PICS. I also have on good information that $3.3 million of the $9.8 million was just added last year. Requests for more information regarding the receipt of funds to this restricted account have been requested.

While some savvy individuals reviewing HB 218 might point to the $8,757,000 seemingly being appropriated for the “Firearm Records Check Fund,” it is important to explain that such is the removal of that amount from the PSP’s restricted account, reducing it from $9.8 million to approximately $1 million.

It is time for the citizens of Pennsylvania to stop paying millions of dollars, each year, for a broken and duplicative system, when the FBI offer NICS to us for free.

 

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SCOTUS Properly Denied Cert in Peruta v. California

While it may come as a shock to many of our viewers, I am firmly of the position that the U.S. Supreme Court properly denied certiorari in Peruta v. California, given the significant rumors of Justice Kennedy’s impending retirement this summer – the result of which will trigger the biggest battle over the confirmation of a new justice that our Country has ever seen.

But what does that have to do with Peruta?

Well, if you remember, both D.C. v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago were 5-4 votes, which included Justice Kennedy in the majority; however, his exact position on the Second Amendment is not known, as he joined the majority opinion in U.S. v. Castleman, which, as Justice Scalia wrote, results in everything constituting domestic violence. Accordingly, even absent his retirement, he may not be a vote that we can count on in support of the Second Amendment.

Furthermore, since Heller and McDonald, we unfortunately lost the legal giant Justice Scalia. While Justice Gorsuch has now taken former Justice Scalia’s place on the Court, assuming he votes consistent with former Justice Scalia’s opinion of the Second Amendment (which seems extremely likely given the Dissent to the Denial of Certiorari to Peruta for which he joined), in the absence of Justice Kennedy, the 9th Circuit’s decision, upholding the draconian law, would likely be affirmed, since a 4-4 vote results in affirmation of the lower court’s ruling. While Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSBlog has found precedent in such situations for re-argument once another Justice is confirmed, he has likewise found identical precedent where re-argument was not provided. Hence, we cannot count on re-argument being granted in a 4-4 tie situation.

While a tie vote affirmation is not precedential on lower courts, it would likely empower even more lower courts to ignore the dictates of the Second Amendment and Heller, McDonald, and Massachusetts v. Caetano, since the lower courts have seemingly thumbed their nose at the Court’s binding precedent. Specifically, in Heller, the Court declared that the definition of “bear arms” was to

wear, bear, or carry … upon the person or in the clothing or in a pocket, for the purpose of . . . being armed and ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict with another person.

Yet, lower courts have consistently upheld bans on carrying firearms in one’s pocket and permitted states to require an individual to obtain a license to carry a firearm concealed on his/her person.

Furthermore, in both Heller and McDonald the Court declared that the Second Amendment should not be analyzed in an interest-balancing approach.  Specifically, in Heller the Court declared

We know of no other enumerated constitutional right whose core protection has been subjected to a freestanding ‘interest-balancing’ approach. The very enumeration of the right takes out of the hands of government—even the Third Branch of Government—the power to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the right is really worth insisting upon.

Likewise, in McDonald, the Court declared that the Heller Court “specifically rejected” “an interest-balancing test”. Yet, almost every federal court that has analyzed the Second Amendment has analyzed it under an interest balancing approach, generally only applying intermediate scrutiny.

For these reasons, until Justice Kennedy retires and is replaced by a jurist that recognizes the Second Amendment is an inalienable right, it is best for SCOTUS to continue denying certiorari in cases involving the Second Amendment.

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Senate Passes SB 383 With Anti-Gun Provisions

Today, on third consideration, the Pennsylvania Senate passed SB 383 with the anti-gun amendments, which I previously wrote about earlier today.

It is now imperative that you contact you State Representative and demand that they vote against SB 383 or completely amend it to address the issues that I have previously written about and remove the anti-gun provisions.

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Anti-Gun Amendments Added to Senate Bill 383 Permitting Teachers to Carry Firearms in Pennsylvania

Although Senator White’s Office – the Prime Sponsor of SB 383 – stated on Monday that there was no longer an ability to amend SB 383 in relation to the issues I previously raised, yesterday, Philadelphia Democratic Senator Sharif Street added several anti-gun and anti-right amendments to SB 383, as initially reported by PennLive, which passed, 49-1. You can find a current version of SB 383 with the amendments here and a listing of all the Senators that voted for it here.

The amendment, inter alia, requires disclosure of all school personnel permitted access to local law enforcement and disclosure to parents that there are school personnel who are permitted access to firearms; thereby, once again, violating the confidentiality of 18 Pa.C.S. §§ 6111(g)(3.1) and (i) and failing to address the maintaining, access and disclosing of that information held by the police department.

Moreover, it requires any school personnel wishing to be authorized to carry a firearm to undergo a psychological examination and seemingly provide such to the school district in violation of HIPAA and for which, as I explained previously, there exists no safeguards on the maintaining, access and disclosing of those reports. This would also  constitute a violation of Article 2, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, as it constitutes an impermissible delegation of authority to a psychologist to determine fitness.

For all of the above reasons, I am asking you to contact your State Senator and tell him/her to oppose SB 383.

 

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