Category Archives: Pennsylvania Firearms Law

PRESS RELEASE: Monumental Mental Health Second Amendment As-Applied Challenge Success

We are extremely proud to announce that Attorney Joshua Prince was successful in a second Second Amendment as-applied challenge in relation to a prior mental health commitment.

As our viewers are likely aware from Attorney Prince’s blog article Monumental Decision from the Middle District Court of Pennsylvania Regarding Mental Health Commitments and the Second Amendment, over a year and three months ago, Attorney Prince was successful in obtaining relief for Mr. Yox, who had previously been involuntarily committed as a juvenile but later went on to honorably serve in our Armed Forces and later as a state correctional officer. Under federal law, Mr. Yox was permitted to possess a firearm and ammunition in his official capacity as a law enforcement officer, but was precluded from possessing a firearm and ammunition in his private capacity. In fact, in providing relief to Mr. Yox, the court declared:

Indeed, Mr. Yox provides the perfect test case to challenge § 922(g)(4), as the illogical contradiction of being able to possess firearms in his professional capacities but not being able to possess a firearm for protection in his own home puts in relief a factual scenario where an as-applied Second Amendment challenge to this statute may succeed.

Indeed, if Mr. Yox were not to succeed on his as-applied challenge, we cannot imagine that there exists any person who could.

Unfortunately, the court had previously dismissed his co-plaintiff’s (Mr. Keyes’) identical arguments on the basis that the Pennsylvania Superior Court had already considered his Second Amendment challenge and found against him in In re Keyes. After rendering its decision on Plaintiff Yox’s claims, Mr. Keyes filed a request for the court to reconsider its prior ruling and arguing that it would be a manifest injustice if the court were deny him relief based on the faulty decision of the Pennsylvania Superior Court.

On October 4, 2016, Judge John E. Jones, III. overturned his prior holding finding that Mr. Keyes’ Second Amendment as-applied claim was barred and declared that Mr. Keyes “is in a materially identical situation” to Mr. Yox and that denying Keyes, while granting relief to Mr. Yox, would seem to constitute an “inequitable administration of the law” and “manifest injustice.”Judge Jones specifically declared in finding that the Pennsylvania Superior Court incorrectly analyzed his prior Second Amendment challenge:

The result is that Keyes is left behind while his co-Plaintiff receives full relief simply because Keyes pursued his Second Amendment claims in what turned out to be the wrong court. He is left with no recourse to receive vindication of his constitutional right to bear arms, even though this Court has, for all material purposes, made clear that his claim has full merit. This is a grossly unfair and inequitable result.

Judge Jones went on to state that “[w]e would be hard pressed to think of a better example of an inequitable administration of the laws, and it is a circumstance that cries out to be rectified.”

Thereafter, extensive discovery ensued and the Government and Mr. Keyes filed cross-motions for summary judgment. Yesterday, in an initially sealed memorandum (which was unsealed today with the consent of Mr. Keyes), Judge Jones, after providing a substantial and substantive analysis of the law and evidence of record, declared:

We have been presented with no evidence to indicate that disarming those who went through a period of mental illness and suicide attempts over a decade ago and who have regularly carried firearms in their professional capacity since that time reasonably fits within the governmental interest to promote safety. As such, 18 U.S.C. § 924(g)(4) cannot withstand intermediate scrutiny in the face of Keyes’ as-applied challenge. Enforcement of the statute against Keyes therefore violates his right to keep and bear arms – a right guaranteed to him by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.

More importantly, telling of Judge Jones’ character and being an ardent defender of constitutional rights, he further declared:

We freely acknowledge our mindfulness of the fact that this decision is rendered in a time when our country appears awash in gun violence. Given the tenor of the times, it would be easy and indeed alluring to conclude that Plaintiff lacks any recourse. But to do so would be an abdication of this Court’s responsibility to carefully apply precedent, even when, as here, it is less than clear. Our jurisprudence and the unique facts presented guide us to the inescapable conclusion that if the Second Amendment is to mean anything, and it is beyond peradventure that it does, Plaintiff is entitled to relief.

Please join us in congratulating Attorney Prince for this monumental victory, as well as, Judge Jones for ensuring that for every wrong committed, the court has the power to correct it.

If you or someone you know has been involuntarily committed and is now prohibited from purchasing and possessing firearms and ammunition, contact us today to discuss your options.

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Part 2: Lower Merion Township – Taxpayers on the Hook for Legal Expenses related to Illegal Firearms Ordinance

As I reviewed back in May of 2015, the Lower Merion Township taxpayers were already on the hook for approximately $4,900 in legal fees, as a result of its unlawful firearm ordinances.  Although the Commonwealth Court declared the ordinances unlawful and the PA Supreme Court refused to hear the Township’s appeal of the matter, the Township has nevertheless enacted a new discharge ordinance on September 19, 2017 and the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas will hear argument in late-October regarding the Township’s violation of the Commonwealth Court’s decision. While the litigation continues, I was interested in just how much the taxpayer of Lower Merion Township have paid in relation to it, so I submitted another Right to Know Law request. Today, I received their response.

While the billings take some time to calculate, since the prior billings, it appears that another $26,514.44 was paid, resulting in a total attorney fee of over $31,000 through July of this year. It is unfortunate that the Lower Merion Township Commissioners have elected to not only defend their illegal ordinances but also enact new ordinances in violation of the law at the taxpayers expense. If you are a resident of Lower Merion Township, you should let the Commissioners know that you do not appreciate your money being used for their political views.

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PRESS RELEASE: Monumental Decision Imposing Financial Judgment on Pennsylvania State Police for Violating Second Amendment Rights!

Addressing several issues of first impression, the Commonwealth Court on Wednesday issued a 20 page decision and entered a judgment of approximately $6,500.00 against the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) for erroneously denying an individual his right to keep and bear arms.

With eight pages of the decision addressing the factual and procedural background, the case is somewhat complex; however, stated succinctly, the individual applied for a firearm and was denied by the PSP. Although he submitted a Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) Challenge, where he provided the PSP with copies of the original charging documents reflecting that he had only been charged with and pled guilty to a summary offense, the PSP ignored the documentation and issued a final determination that he was prohibited. Thereafter, he retained Attorney Joshua Prince for an appeal to the Pennsylvania Attorney General. After the PSP received the appeal, which included copies of all the documents the individual originally submitted, the PSP called Attorney Prince to inform him that the PSP was overturning its decision but that they would not issue a letter confirming the reversal.

Thereafter, Attorney Prince filed a complaint against the PSP, pursuant to the Criminal History Record Information Act (CHRIA), while the case proceeded before the Attorney General. The PSP would later stipulate, before the Attorney General, that the individual was not prohibited; however, the PSP opposed the CHRIA action and argue that (1) the PSP was entitled to sovereign immunity for any damages and (2) that the individual was foreclosed in bringing a CHRIA action, since he had filed an appeal to the Attorney General.

The Commonwealth Court, in response to the PSP’s assertion of sovereign immunity, declared that the

PSP did originally maintain incorrect criminal history record information with respect to Haron in violation of section 9111 of CHRIA, which wrongfully resulted in the denial of his constitutional right to purchase a firearm for a period of several months and required him to ultimately obtain counsel.

The court then went on to find

that the maintenance of incorrect criminal records resulting in an unwarranted denial of a constitutional right to purchase a firearm constitutes “aggrievement.” Because Haron was aggrieved, he is entitled to recover actual and real damages, consistent with section 9183(b)(2) of CHRIA, in the amount of $1,500.00, which represents the retainer fee that Haron was required to pay to obtain counsel to represent him [before the AG] in this matter. Additionally, Haron is entitled to reasonable costs of litigation and attorney fees.

In relation to the PSP’s second assertion that he was precluded in instituting and maintaining an action under CHRIA because he filed an appeal to the Attorney General, the court declared:

we do not believe that Haron’s initial choice to proceed under the UFA forecloses any potential relief under CHRIA. Indeed, the only relief available under the UFA appears to be correction of an individual’s criminal history records, whereas CHRIA provides other potential relief in the nature of an injunction and/or damages.

While the judgment is minuscule in relation to the deprivation of a constitutional right, we hope that this case will give the PSP pause in what has become its standard operating procedure to ignore documentation submitted by an unrepresented individual in a PICS Challenge and to force individuals to prove that they are not prohibited, when the burden rests with the PSP to prove that the individual is prohibited.

If your rights have been denied the purchase/transfer of a firearm or your rights violated by the PSP, 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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Montgomery District Attorney Requested to Investigate and Charge Lower Merion Township for Proposed Firearm Regulation

As our viewers are aware, we became aware on August 30, 2017, that at its upcoming September 19th meeting, Lower Merion Township is considering a new firearm discharge ordinance, even after the Commonwealth Court struck down its current discharge ordinance and held that municipalities may not regulate discharge.

As a result, in a letter sent today, Attorney Joshua Prince formally requested that Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele open an investigation into this matter and file appropriate charges, including for violations of Section 6120 and official oppression.

We hope that District Attorney Steele will take a proactive approach, similar to that of Lancaster County District Attorney Crag Stedman, who recently sent out letters to all law enforcement agencies in Lancaster County advising that municipal regulation of firearms and ammunition is unlawful. Regardless, we would again urge everyone, especially residents and taxpayers in Lower Merion Township, to make the Commissioners aware of your position. The hearing on September 19th will start at 7:30 PM at Township Administration Bldg – 2nd Floor Board Room, 75 East Lancaster Ave, 2nd Floor Board Room Ardmore, Pennsylvania 19003-2323. Their telephone number is 610-649-4000 and you can contact the individual commissioners here.

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.

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Firearms Law Seminar – October 28, 2017 at Trop Gun Shop

On Saturday, October 28, 2017,  Chief Counsel Joshua Prince, Attorney Eric Winter, and Attorney Adam Kraut of Firearms Industry Consulting Group (FICG), a division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., in conjunction with Trop Gun Shop, will offer a four (4) hour seminar on state and federal firearms law at their store located at  910 North Hanover St, Elizabethtown, PA 17022.

To register, simply register online on Trop’s website. It is highly recommended that you register early, as last time it sold out fast.

 


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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Lower Merion Township Considering Unlawful Firearm Regulation After Losing On The Same Basis – Taxpayers To Be On The Hook!

Today, I became aware that Lower Merion Township is considering a new, unlawful firearm discharge regulation, after having their current discharge provision ruled unlawful by the Commonwealth Court and denied review by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Firearm Owners Against Crime, et al. v. Lower Merion Township, 151 A.3d 1172 (Pa. Cmwlth. Ct. 2016) (petition for allocatur denied July 11, 2017).

The new, unlawful proposed ordinance provides, in part:

Section 1. The Code of the Township of Lower Merion, Chapter 109 thereof, entitled Parks and Playgrounds, § 109-16, Firearms; fireworks, shall be amended to provide as follows:

§ 109-16. Discharge of a firearm or bow; dangerous athletic implements; fireworks. Township parks shall be posted to prohibit the discharge of a firearm or bow except where authorized by the Board of Commissioners. The promiscuous use in a park of javelins, discuses or similar athletic equipment dangerous in character is prohibited unless used under the direct supervision of an authorized playground supervisor. The use of firecrackers, fireworks or rockets in a park is prohibited.

The proposal is scheduled be voted on September 19, 2017. Unfortunately, it looks like the taxpayers will further be on the hook, if this ordinance is passed for substantial attorney fees and costs. Although I have not received updated amounts of fees incurred by Lower Merion Township in relation to the FOAC, et al v. Lower Merion Township litigation, as I previously wrote, the insurance company denied coverage, stating:

The POL Coverage Part of the applicable Trust Coverage Document does not provide coverage for the Township in this matter because the plaintiffs are not seeking to recover compensatory damages, but only declaratory and injunctive relief, and because the plaintiffs have alleged in their Complaint that the Township willfully violated 18 Pa. C.S. §6120 and otherwise engaged in willful misconduct in refusing to amend or repeal the allegedly illegal ordinances. The Trust therefore respectfully declines coverage and requests that the Township retain defense counsel at its own expense in this matter.

Accordingly, everyone, especially residents and taxpayers in Lower Merion Township, should make the Commissioners aware of your position. The hearing on September 19th will start at 7:30 PM at Township Administration Bldg – 2nd Floor Board Room, 75 East Lancaster Ave, 2nd Floor Board Room Ardmore, Pennsylvania 19003-2323. Their telephone number is 610-649-4000 and you can contact the individual commissioners here.

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.

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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.

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