Tag Archives: “Article 1 Section 21”

Commonwealth Court – Circumstantial Evidence of a Commitment is Sufficient to Strip an Individual of His/Her 2nd Amendment Rights

Yesterday, the Commonwealth Court issued a decision in PSP v. Slaughter, 858 C.D. 2015, where the court held that the Pennsylvania State Police (“PSP”) can meet its burden, through circumstantial evidence, establishing that an individual is a prohibited from purchasing and possessing firearms due a putative involuntary commitment.

While the factual background for this case was not the best, in essence and summed up succinctly, no Petition exists of Mr. Slaughter being involuntarily committed, pursuant to Section 302 of Pennsylvania’s Mental Health and Procedures Act (“MHPA”). However, an MHPA Section 303 Petition (next level of involuntary commitment) was lodged with the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and reflects within it that Mr. Slaughter was previously committed under Section 302 of the MHPA. There was no dispute that a Section 302 Petition does not currently exist and the 303 Petition was later withdrawn, when Mr. Slaughter agreed to being voluntarily commitment, in lieu of being involuntarily committed pursuant to Section 303 of the MHPA.

Although 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105(c)(4) declares that an individual is only prohibited if “the examining physician has issued a certification that inpatient care was necessary or that the person was committable” (which would only be specified on the 302 Petition), the court found that it was not necessary for the PSP to produce the 302 Petition and that the PSP could meet its burden through circumstantial evidence, such as the 303 Petition, which suggests that Mr. Slaughter was committed pursuant to Section 302, and other records that were obtained.

The court, in so holding, has determined that an individual’s fundamental right can be stripped through circumstantial evidence. Setting aside that no other fundamental right can be stripped of an individual in perpetuity, there is no existing precedent that a fundamental right can be stripped based merely on circumstantial evidence. In this regard, the court’s decision is extremely alarming. Can the PSP now establish that an individual is prohibited through the testimony of a vindictive spouse, who says the the individual was involuntarily committed, but for which, no commitment ever occurred?

As the court, in essence, disregarded the limitation specified within Section 6105(c)(4) by stating that the General Assembly never specifically stated that the actual certification must be produced, it clear that the MHPA and Uniform Firearms Act must be amended in relation to mental health issues. These types of decisions will have a detrimental effect in society, as those who may otherwise seek out treatment, will now be concerned about losing their fundamental rights by merely seeking out help and will therefore not seek necessary assistance. And, by not seeking help, those individuals may be more inclined to harm themselves or others. If we want to solve the mental health issues in the United States, we need to openly welcome those seeking assistance with all forms of mental health conditions, without any threat of the individual being stripped of their fundamental rights

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It’s Legal To Carry a Firearm, While Voting!

While I have blogged on the topic extensively, many residents of Pennsylvania are unaware of their right to carry a firearm while voting, unless their polling location is located at a place which prohibited under state law. Accordingly, I did a short video on the right to carry a firearm, while voting. For those interested in a more in-depth review of the general right to carry a firearm while voting in Pennsylvania, see my article – Voting While Carrying a Firearm in PA – It’s Legal!

Carrying while Voting Joshua Prince(Your PA Firearms Attorney® voting in 2013 with a Sig on my right hip)

When Northampton County previously precluded one of my clients from voting, I took action, which resulted in Northampton County now informing all of its voters of their general right to carry a firearm, while voting. http://www.northamptoncounty.org/northampton/cwp/view.asp…|34800|&northamptonNav_GID=1988 declaring

The Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act, 18 Pa.C.S.A. Sections 6101 et seq., permits any person permitted to possess a firearm to openly carry or, with a license to carry firearm, to conceal carry the firearm in Northampton County with the exception of elementary schools, secondary schools, or court facilities. No individual shall be precluded from entering a polling location while lawfully carrying a firearm, whether openly or concealed, unless such polling location constitutes an elementary school, secondary school, or court facility. No individual shall be precluded from voting while lawfully carrying a firearm, whether openly or concealed, unless such polling location constitutes an elementary school, secondary school, or court facility. No sign shall be drafted, written, erected, placed, or visibly available at any polling location precluding an individual from entering a polling location or voting while in lawful possession of a firearm.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to vote, regardless of whether or not you carry a firearm. While I believe voting while carrying a firearm is a political statement, the failure of so many citizens to become involved in the political process may result in us losing our right to make any political statement, as evidenced by the current state of our Union.

If anyone precludes you from voting while carrying a firearm, contact our office – 888-313-0416 or info@princelaw.com – so that we can discuss your legal options.

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The Inalienable Right to Stand Your Ground

We are extremely proud to announce the publication of Chief Counsel Joshua Prince and attorney Allen Thompson‘s article – The Inalienable Right to Stand Your Ground – in Volume 27, Issue 1, of the St. Thomas Law Review. You can find a copy here.

Please join us in congratulating them in this monumental endeavor and their steadfast devotion to protecting all of our inalienable rights!

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Lower Merion Township’s Preliminary Objections in Relation to its Unlawful Firearm Ordinance are DENIED

Today, the Honorable Steven Tolliver of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas issued a decision and order denying Lower Merion Township’s Preliminary Objections requesting that the complaint filed by Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC) and other plaintiffs be dismissed.

In so ruling, Judge Tolliver not only found that the individual plaintiffs sufficiently averred standing to challenge Lower Merion Township’s Ordinance 109-16 (regulating firearms in township parks) but also found that FOAC had established standing on behalf of its members. Judge Tolliver also found that Plaintiffs had sufficiently averred a right to relief.

Lower Merion Township now has 20 days to file an Answer to the Complaint and the action will proceed thereafter. Also, a hearing on Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Preliminary Injunction is scheduled for August 24th.

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Cambria County to Return 306 Guns to Resident at NO Cost , After Final PFA Dismissed and Temporary PFA Vacated

As some of our viewers are aware, in March of this year, a Cambria County man and collector of firearms had 306 of his firearms confiscated by the Cambria County Sheriff as a result of a temporary Protection for Abuse Act (PFA) Order. (His name is not being disclosed due to the nature of the issues).

Pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. 6107(b), which addresses temporary PFAs, an individual can be deprived of his/her right to keep and bear arms, without opportunity to be heard, as occurred in this matter. Where a temporary PFA is issued, pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. 6107(a), a hearing must be held within 10 days where all parties have an opportunity to be heard. During that hearing, the Honorable Judge F. Joseph Leahey not only denied the final PFA but also vacated the temporary PFA, finding that there was no basis in the law for the issuance of the temporary PFA. Unfortunately, the Cambria County Sheriff’s department expended over $1200 in the confiscation of the Cambria man’s firearms, the cost of which was assessed against the gun owner.

At that point, I was retained to request reconsideration of that aspect of the Order on several grounds: First, 23 Pa.C.S. 6108.1(a) precludes the assessment of costs relating to the return of firearms in PFA matters; Second, 18 Pa.C.S. 6111.1(b)(4) requires return of all firearms in the possession of a law enforcement agency to the lawful owner, provided the lawful owner is not prohibited from possessing and purchasing firearms and ammunition; Third, pursuant to Article 1, Sections 1 and 9 of the Pennsylvania Constitution and the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, he was denied all forms of due process; Fourth, pursuant to Article 1, Section 21 and the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, he was denied his right to keep and bear arms; and Fifth, that pursuant to the 5th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the assessment of costs would constitute a taking in this context. Additionally, I requested that all firearms be returned to the location of confiscation (e.g. my client’s home).

On April 24th, Judge Leahey graciously granted an emergency oral request for reconsideration of his Order, as the appeal deadline was about to run. After filing a written motion for reconsideration explaining the above issues, on May 18, 2015, the Honorable F. Joseph Leahey issued a new Order vacating the assessment of costs against my client and now assessing the costs for confiscation against the County. Further, he directed the Sheriff to return all the firearms to my client at the location of confiscation.

It bears noting that Cambria Sheriff Bob Kolar never opposed the motion for reconsideration (or, to my knowledge, ever asked the court to impose the costs against my client) and was quoted as saying “I had a court order and I was complying with that order.” Further, it is my understanding that Judge Leahey was unaware of the prohibition on the assessment of costs related to the confiscation and return of firearms in PFA matters and simply followed policy in initially assessing the costs.  As soon as he was made aware of the issue, he was genuinely concerned and was extremely amenable to reconsidering his Order. Both of these men deserve our appreciation for their dedication in upholding the law.

If you or someone you know has a PFA issued against them or need assistance in seeking return of your firearms, please do not hesitate to contact us – 888-313-0416 or info@princelaw.com – to discuss your rights!

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Pennsylvania Second Amendment Action Day – May 12, 2015!

The 10th Annual Pennsylvania Second Amendment Action Day is scheduled for May 12, 2015 at the State Capitol Steps in Harrisburg, PA. With notable speakers such as Sheriff Richard Mack (who sued the U.S. Government and won in relation to a gun control measure) and State Representative Daryl Metcalfe, it is guaranteed to be phenomenal event in support of OUR rights.

Will you join me in attending and standing up for Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution and the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution? Contrary to media discourse, our Right to Keep and Bear Arms is being eviscerated at the state and federal level. This year alone, we have seen Pennsylvania Attorney General Kane rescind firearm reciprocity agreements in the absence of any authority to do so and fail in her duty to enter into a reciprocity agreement with Idaho. We have also seen NUMEROUS bills submitted in the General Assembly to strip away OUR rights! These include HB 285 which seeks to make any person who ever seeks mental health treatment, a prohibited person; HB 418, which seeks to ban human silhouette targets; and HB 91, which seeks to make any false compartment, potentially including your attached vehicle safe, a criminal offense! At the federal level, we have seen ATF seek to expand the “sporting purpose framework” in relation to 5.56/223 ammo, ATF direct Federal Firearm Licensees (FFLs) to abuse the NICS and PICS systems, and ATF seek to redefined what constitutes being “committed to a mental institution.”

You need to come out and let your voice be heard! Article 1, Section 21 and the Second Amendment are inalienable (or natural) rights, as even acknowledged by the U.S. Supreme Court in D.C. v. Heller.

Justice James Wilson interpreted the Pennsylvania Constitution’s arms-bearing right, for example, as a recognition of the natural right of defense “of one’s person or house”—what he called the law of “self preservation.” 2 Collected Works of James Wilson 1142, and n. x (K. Hall & M. Hall eds.2007) (citing Pa. Const., Art. IX, § 21 (1790)); see also T. Walker, Introduction to American Law 198 (1837). D.C. v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 585, 128 S. Ct. 2783, 2793, 171 L. Ed. 2d 637 (2008)
Yet, our rights are constantly under attack at the state and federal level. We need to let our representatives know that shall not infringe means just that…shall not infringe. If you don’t appreciate the language of the Second Amendment or Article 1, Section 21, then, like everyone else, you have the right to petition your representatives to have it amended; however, you do not have the right to seek judicially active judges to interpret that which is abundantly clear.
Join me and numerous other individuals and pro-2nd Amendment organizations on May 12th in celebrating our rights and making clear to our representatives that we will not tolerate ANY infringement on our rights!
Gun Rally Flyer 2015-Final

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PRESS RELEASE: Lawsuit Filed Against Lower Merion Township Regarding Its Illegal Firearm Ordinance

Today, Firearms Industry Consulting Group, a division of Prince Law Offices, P.C., filed an 24 page Complaint, plus exhibits, against Lower Merion Township on behalf of Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC) and two individual plaintiffs regarding the Township’s illegal and unconstitutional firearm ordinance – Section 109-16. In the Complaint, Chief Counsel Joshua Prince argues that the Township’s ordinance violates 18 Pa.C.S. § 6120 and Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, for which even Township Manager McNelly admitted and which is included as an exhibit.

Although the Township was provided an opportunity to repeal its illegal ordinance, in direct defiance of the state crime of Official Oppression, as well as, Section 6120, the Commissioners, contrary to the advice of their solicitor, refused to repeal or amend Section 109-16.

It is unfortunate that Township’s taxpayers will be burdened by the Township’s elected officials believing it is acceptable, and even gloating, that they are violating the Crimes Code and refusing to repeal such illegal provisions.

As it is a misdemeanor of the first degree to violate Section 6120, pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 6119, we call upon Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman, who is currently running for judge in Montgomery County, to bring charges against the Township and its representatives for their violations of the Crimes Code, including conspiracy, official oppression, and Section 6120. It is time that our elected officials be held accountable for their actions.

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