Tag Archives: firearm

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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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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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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Armed Vehicle Defense – Are You Actually Prepared?

For a while now, I’ve had on my bucket list to attend an armed vehicle defense class, so that I could be better prepared if it became necessary for me to defend myself (or others) from within my vehicle, especially given the amount that I travel and find myself in a vehicle.

Unfortunately, with my insane schedule, it has proven difficult. However, this weekend, an opportunity presented itself to attend Trop Gun Shop‘s Armed Vehicle Defense two-day class, which is taught by Phill Groff. For those of you who don’t know Phill, I cannot do his background justice. For brevity, he has a substantial military and law enforcement bckground, with an emphasis on training law enforcement officers. But don’t let this concern you; Phill is an extremely down-to-earth and a phenomenal teacher, with actual real-life experiences and stories, unlike some trainers and YouTube commandos. But, you aren’t reading this because you want his CV – you already know that if I’m spending the time writing an article on the class that he taught, he has the necessary skill-set and is a phenomenal instructor. Rather, your question is: “But, Josh, why do I need training on use of a firearm in or around a vehicle?”

The answer is simple – for most of us, we utilize our vehicles to get to and from work. In addition, many of us utilize our vehicles daily to pick up and drop off our children and other tasks. Take a quick minute and think of all the times you used your vehicle in the last week (grocery store, department store, gas station, take-out food, going to and from a restaurant or event,…etc). Most of us spend far more time in our vehicles than we realize.

“But Josh, this still doesn’t answer my question.” You’re right. First, you need to realize the amount of time that you spend in your vehicle to understand the importance of an armed vehicle defense class. Then, you need to consider what that means in relation to your current training.

If you’re like most people, you spend a limited amount of range time preparing for the unlikely event that you are required to pull your firearm. That may, or may not, be enough to make you proficient at shooting paper and steel and maybe even pulling from your IWB concealed holster; but, have you trained for pulling your firearm while seated? With the a seat belt? Do you know the techniques for drawing your firearm in your car with a steering wheel in extremely close proximity to you? What about window deflection? Does it change whether you’re shooting from inside the vehicle to outside or from outside to inside? (Hint, YEP! Do you know how much each way? They’re FAR from the same and you need to know how to compensate based on your ammunition).  What if you have other occupants in the vehicle, like a friend, spouse or children – do you know the proper techniques to limit their likelihood of being shot by friendly fire? Remember, the assailant could come from the back quarter-panel or trunk of your vehicle. Do you know what parts of your car provide concealment versus cover? You might be surprised at the (limited) amount of cover that a vehicle provides to occupants, even to pistol calibers; however, you may likewise be surprised at the amount of rifle and shotgun calibers that cannot penetrate through a car. Per Phill’s trademarked slogan, the cover provided by a vehicle is consistently inconsistent.

One of many of the great aspects of Trop’s Armed Vehicle Defense class is the ballistic labs that you’ll go through, where you’ll get to see the result of pistol, rifle and shotgun (and even your own!) rounds impacting a vehicle. Think your defensive carry rounds are the best all-around for any situation you may find yourself in? You might be surprised…

You’ll also have an opportunity to shoot paper and steel from in, under and around vehicles – hell, while in one vehicle, you’re crashed into another (at 5-7 mph) and thereafter have to engage threats. Do I need to say more? Well, if you’re still not sold, after learning many of these invaluable lessons and skills, you then have an opportunity to see and try their real world application through force on force Simunitions. If you’ve never experienced force on force with Simunitions, then the class is worth it for this alone! If you have, then you know how phenomenal an opportunity it is to train force on force with Simunitions.

I simply cannot emphasize how invaluable this class was and the amount of knowledge that I obtained from these two days. I highly recommend that you take an armed vehicle defense class if you spend any amount of time in your vehicle. It just may save your life.

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SCOTUS Denies Certiorari in Binderup/Suarez

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the U.S. Government’s request for appeal in the combined cases of Attorney General Sessions v. Binerup and Suarez, leaving in place the District Court and Third Circuit decisions holding that an individual can successfully bring a Second Amendment as-applied challenge to a non-violent misdemeanor firearms disability.

I previously reviewed the Third Circuit’s decision in this blog article.

If you are prohibited as a result of a misdemeanor conviction, contact Firearms Industry Consulting Group, a division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., to help you restore your Second Amendment Rights.

 


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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The Problems With Senate Bill 383 Permitting Teachers To Carry Firearms In Pennsylvania

Recently, there has been a lot of public interest and questions asked about Pennsylvania Senate Bill 383, which seeks to provide school districts with the ability to approve school personnel to carry firearms in schools. As many of you are aware, I full support having armed school personnel in our schools; however, this bill suffers from many issues that appear to have never been considered.

First, it requires the school official to have a license to carry firearms (“LTCF”). Why is this of concern? Well, SB 383 fails to consider that LTCF applicant information is confidential and not subject to disclosure; whereby, the disclosure of such information is a felony of the 3rd degree and permits civil penalties. Specifically, 18 Pa.C.S. § 6111(g)(3.1) provides:

Any person, licensed dealer, licensed manufacturer or licensed importer who knowingly and intentionally obtains or furnishes information collected or maintained pursuant to section 6109 for any purpose other than compliance with this chapter or who knowingly or intentionally disseminates, publishes or otherwise makes available such information to any person other than the subject of the information commits a felony of the third degree.

Section 6111(i) then provides, in pertinent part:

Confidentiality.  All information provided by the … applicant, including, but not limited to, the … applicant’s name or identity, furnished by … any applicant for a license to carry a firearm as provided by section 6109 shall be confidential and not subject to public disclosure. In addition to any other sanction or penalty imposed by this chapter, any person, licensed dealer, State or local governmental agency or department that violates this subsection shall be liable in civil damages in the amount of $ 1,000 per occurrence or three times the actual damages incurred as a result of the violation, whichever is greater, as well as reasonable attorney fees.

Second, the bill does nothing to address the confidentiality of this information and how a school district is to protect the disclosure of this information. Who is entitled within the school district to see and have access to this information? Are logs to be kept of who views it and when? Is any training on the confidentiality of LTCF applicant information to be provided to school officials who have access to this information? If so, how frequently? Are logs to be kept of their training? These are all important issues that are not addressed, in any form, by the bill.

I also question why an LTCF is the determining criteria instead of the person being Act 235 certified. It would seem to be far more logical to me to remove the LTCF requirement and replace it with an Act 235 requirement.

Third, and most concerning is the fact that without the confidentiality of this information being addressed in SB 383, one wonders whether such information will be disclosed to the public, including through Right To Know Law (“RTKL”) requests. If so, now an individual intent on harming our children, including a potential terrorist or terrorist group, could learn, in advance, whether a school district has any armed personnel. If so, the criminal/terrorist is likely to target those school personnel first. If, on the other hand, a RTKL request comes back stating that there are no relevant records, such would highlight that there are no armed personnel and that the school is an extremely soft target.

Although I support arming our school personnel, SB 383 fails to address many significant concerns and therefore, I cannot support it in its current form. My hope is that the General Assembly takes action to correct SB 383.

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