Tag Archives: Firearms Industry Consulting Group

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.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law

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.

5 Comments

Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law

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.

3 Comments

Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law, Uncategorized

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.

Leave a comment

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

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.

2 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.

6 Comments

Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law

Devastating En Banc Decision Regarding Act 235 Security Guards

Yesterday, in a devastating en banc opinion by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in Commonwealth v. Anderson, it ruled that an individual who is Act 235 certified is not entitled to carry a firearm to and from work, absent a license to carry firearms, regardless of the language in Act 235 that requires a private security guard carry his/her certificate when “on duty or going to and from duty and carrying a lethal weapon.”

The background of the case is explained succinctly by the court, stating:

The charges stem from an altercation on North Dewey Street in Philadelphia on November 3, 2013. Anderson was on his way home from his job as a private security guard, and he stopped at a party to pick up a friend who had asked him to take her home. He was wearing a bullet-proof vest and a security badge or lanyard around his neck, and he was carrying a gun; he stopped his car in the middle of the street. Meanwhile, Mark Ellis drove onto the street behind Anderson and stopped to drop off food at the home of a local resident, Syreeta Manire. After Manire retrieved the food, Ellis quickly proceeded to drive away. Anderson’s car was blocking the street, and Ellis stopped a few feet behind it. Anderson and Ellis then exchanged words. Ellis pulled out a gun, and Anderson tried to grab that gun from him. Shots were fired, and Anderson shot and killed Ellis. A subsequent police investigation determined that Anderson was not licensed to carry a firearm, but that he did possess a valid Act 235 certificate.

The Commonwealth decided not to prosecute Anderson for any homicide-related charges stemming from the shooting. But on January 17, 2014, it charged Anderson with impersonating a police officer and violating two provisions of the PUFA: Section 6106(a)(1), which prohibits carrying a firearm without a license, and Section 6108, which prohibits carrying an unlicensed firearm on public streets or public property in Philadelphia.

On February 11, 2014, Anderson filed a motion to quash the PUFA charges. After hearing argument, the trial court granted Anderson’s motion. In an opinion, the court explained that Act 235 requires private security guards to carry a certificate under the Act when “on duty or going to and from duty and carrying a lethal weapon,” and that, in the court’s view, this constitutes “legislatively created permission to carry a firearm on the street while ‘going to and from duty.’” … Therefore, Anderson was “entitled to avail himself of Act 235’s specific permission for him to be carrying a firearm at the time of his arrest” and could not be charged with violating the PUFA.

As the City of Philadelphia was disgruntled with the trial court’s dismissal of these charges, it appealed to the Superior Court.

On August 23, 2017, the Superior Court issued its en banc decision reversing the trial court and re-instituted the charges. After reviewing the history of the Uniform Firearms Act (referred to as PUFA by the court) and Act 235, the court declares that “PUFA requires a person carrying a firearm to have a license, but an Act 235 certificate is not a license and does not function as a type of document that could serve as a substitute for a license.” More specifically, the court states that “An Act 235 certificate thus does not act as the ‘license’ required by Sections 6106 and 6108 of the PUFA and cannot serve as a substitute for that license.”

But some of you are probably saying that he’s exempt under Section 6106(b)(6), which declares:

(b)  Exceptions.  The provisions of subsection (a) shall not apply to:

(6) Agents, messengers and other employees of common carriers, banks, or business firms, whose duties require them to protect moneys, valuables and other property in the discharge of such duties.

However, in a mind-boggling evisceration of the statutory language, the court goes on to say that the “exceptions” found in Section 6106(b), even though the statutory text states that subsection (a) shall not apply, are defenses that must be proven at trial. This is truly a manifest injustice, as the General Assembly is acutely aware of how to draft provisions that are “defenses,” as evidenced by 18 Pa.C.S. 912(c), and those that are immunities or exceptions.

Based on the absurdity of this decision, for example, now law enforcement officers, who are found in a courthouse possessing a firearm, are to be prosecuted and have to prove, as a defense, that the firearm was possessed in “lawful performance of official duties” because Section 913(c) makes such possession an “exception.” Even more obscene, the same would be true of “constables, sheriffs, prison or jail wardens, or their deputies, policemen of this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions, or other law-enforcement officers,” since this is an “exception” found in Section 6106(b).

As a result, if you are an Act 235 security guard, it is now imperative that you obtain a license to carry firearms, immediately. Likewise, if you are a law enforcement officer, including constable, sheriff, deputy or police officer, even a Pennsylvania State Trooper, you must immediately obtain a license to carry firearms.

If you or someone you know is being prosecuted for carrying a firearm absent a license to carry firearms, contact FICG today to discuss your 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.

4 Comments

Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law