Tag Archives: “Article 1 Section 21”

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.

5 Comments

Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law

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.

8 Comments

Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law

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

2 Comments

Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law

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.

4 Comments

Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law

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!

2 Comments

Filed under Firearms Law, News & Events, Pennsylvania Firearms Law

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.

3 Comments

Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law

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!

2 Comments

Filed under Firearms Law