Tag Archives: gun

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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Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law

Firearm and Ammunition Preemption Needs YOUR Immediate Support!

Today, in an 8-3 vote, the Senate Local Government Committee passed an extremely important firearm and ammunition preemption bill – Senate Bill 5 – which in addition to reaffirming/strengthening preemption would also provide for attorney fees and costs, where a local government violates the preemption statute.  Senate Bill 5 will now go to the Senate floor for consideration.

We can pass preemption with a veto proof majority, but we need YOUR help! Please contact your state Senator and urge them to support Senate Bill 5!  Please take the time to email, fax or call your Senator and do not use form letters/requests, as they are generally ignored. Our Representatives know when an issue is so important to you that you take the time to personally and respectfully contact them.

Together, we can ensure that our rights under Article 1, Section 21 are not questioned!

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Removal of PA Character and Reputation Clause for an LTCF

Today, Representative Russ Diamond and 20 pro-Second Amendment/Article 1, Section 21 Representatives submitted a new bill, HB 918, which would remove the character and reputation / good cause provision of 18 Pa.C.S. 6109. Many issuing authorities, like Philadelphia and Monroe have utilized the character and reputation provision to prevent law-abiding individuals from obtaining an LTCF.

Representative Diamond’s memo details how a young lady, who has no criminal or mental health background,  was granted an LTCF in one county and after moving to another county, denied her renewal. (Although it was in a different county, since she had a valid LTCF at the time of application, the law supports that such was a renewal, even though with a different issuing authority.) Furthermore, Representative Diamond’s memo explains how the character and reputation clause is violative of Article 2, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, as it is an unlawful delegation of power, supported by legions of PA Supreme Court case law.

Please support HB 918 by contacting your Pennsylvania Representatives and requesting that they co-sponsor or support HB 918. Together, we can remove this unconstitutional provision that permits the unequal application of the law and preempt issuing authorities from revoking resident’s Article 1, Section 21 rights!

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Our Veterans Need Our Help To Ensure Their Second Amendment Rights! It Is Time For Us To Repay Our Debt To Them!

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 240-175, with numerous Democrats voting in support, on H.R. 1181 – Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, which would prevent the Department of Veterans Affairs from stripping a veteran’s right to Keep and Bear Arms in the absence of an order or finding by a judge, magistrate, or other judicial authority that such veteran is a danger to himself or herself or others.

Specifically, H.R. 1181 provides:

Notwithstanding any determination made by the Secretary under section 5501A of this title, in any case arising out of the administration by the Secretary of laws and benefits under this title, a person who is mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent, or experiencing an extended loss of consciousness shall not be considered adjudicated as a mental defective under subsection (d)(4) or (g)(4) of section 922 of title 18 without the order or finding of a judge, magistrate, or other judicial authority of competent jurisdiction that such person is a danger to himself or herself or others.

It now moves to the Senate for approval, where we need YOUR support. Please contact your U.S. Senators and tell them to SUPPORT H.R. 1181.

As many of you are aware, I recently detailed a client’s putative loss of his Second Amendment rights through the VA, because the VA, sua sponte and in the absence of any form of due process, elected to place him into “supervised direct payment status.”

It is imperative that we protect our veterans and enact H.R. 1181! Please take a few minutes out of your day to contact your Senators and let them know that it is time that we treat our veterans with the respect and dignity they deserve and ensure the protection of their constitutional rights – the rights that they have steadfastly defended of ours. Our veterans are not second-class citizens and our Senators need to know that we’ll defend their rights, just as they’ve been willing to sacrifice everything to preserve our rights.

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Filed under ATF, Firearms Law, Uncategorized

The Goslin Decision’s Impact on Possessing Weapons on School Property

As our viewers are aware, earlier, we posted about the Superior Court’s monumental decision in Commonwealth v Goslin, where the court, en banc, held that the “plain meaning of Section 912(c) provides two separate defenses: possessing and using a weapon on school property ‘in conjunction with a lawful supervised school activity’ as well as possessing ‘for other lawful purpose’.” (emphasis added)

But what does this mean? What is the impact? And why did the court remand the case to the trial court for a new trial?

First, it is extremely important to note that although this is an extremely favorable decision, the law provides that either of the separate two defenses are just that – defenses. Specifically, Section 912(c) provides:

It shall be a defense that the weapon is possessed and used in conjunction with a lawful supervised school activity or course or is possessed for other lawful purpose.

This means that the Commonwealth can charge you and force you to raise Section 912(c) as a defense and be acquitted by way of the defense, if you are legally entitled to the defense.

But what does that mean? Well, everyone wants bright line rules but unfortunately, in most cases, there aren’t bright line rules, when you wade into the minutiae of scenarios that can arise. So, let’s talk about what are the bright line rules from this decision:

  1. If you are prohibited from possessing a certain type of weapon (such as firearms or stun guns), you cannot utilize this defense, as you would not be in lawful possession of the weapon and therefore would not have a lawful purpose.
  2. If one is required to have special licensing to possess the weapon (such as a license to carry firearms (“LTCF”)) and you do not have an LTCF, you cannot utilize this defense, as you would not be in lawful possession of the weapon and therefore would not have a lawful purpose.
  3. If you intend to commit or actually do use your firearm to commit a crime on school grounds, you cannot utilize this defense, as you would have an unlawful purpose.

But, what if I am not prohibited from possessing a certain type of weapon, have the requisite licensing (if any) to possess the weapon and am carrying the weapon for purposes of self-defense, can I possess the weapon on school grounds?

Based on this decision (and other arguments under the PA and US Constitutions), you would be entitled to the defense found in Section 912(c); however, as mentioned above, nothing would prevent the District Attorney from charging you and forcing you to prove your defense. Now, that being said, few law enforcement officers are going to want to charge someone in this situation, because if they do, and the charges are dismissed or you are acquitted, you can bring a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. 1983 against them for violating your rights.

Ok, but what if I need to utilize the weapon I am carrying on school grounds, let’s say for purpose of self-defense?

Here, while there are great arguments – arguments that we raised in our briefing – the decision does not address whether someone possessing a weapon for “other lawful purposes” may use it. In fact, a significant portion of my argument was that the General Assembly utilized different verbs for the different clauses. Specifically, you will see that the General Assembly permitted both use and possession in relation to a “lawful supervised school activity or course” (due to school shooting teams, Boy Scouts…etc, which actively possess and use weapons on school grounds) but only specified possession in relation to “other lawful purpose.” Moreover, as Mr. Goslin was not required to use the pocketknife that he lawfully possessed, this was not an issue before the court. That being said, if an individual, who possessed the weapon for purposes of self-defense, later used that weapon on school grounds for purposes of self-defense, there are great constitutional and statutory arguments that one can make to permit the use of the weapon in that limited circumstance.

Accordingly, the key points are that anyone lawfully possessing a weapon on school grounds ensure that they are possessing it for a lawful purpose (e.g. self-defense) and they understand that they can be charged with violating Section 912 and forced to argue the defense under Section 912(c).

So why did the Superior Court remand this case to the trial court?

Well, although the record establishes that Mr. Goslin lawfully possessed his knife, the trial court never addressed whether he lawfully possessed his knife, as it held that he wasn’t entitled to the defense since his possession of the knife was not related to a school activity. It is for that reason that the Superior Court remanded it back to the trial for a new trial. However, since posting our article on the decision, the District Attorney reached out to me and advised that they do not plan to appeal and intend to nolle prosequi (in essence, dismiss) the charges against Mr. Goslin. Accordingly, Mr. Goslin will not have go through another trial or file additional motions.

As our readers are aware, unfortunately,  Mr. Goslin was not in a position to fund this litigation. Therefore, if you are in a position to be able to help fund this monumental victory, Mr. Goslin would greatly appreciate donations which can be made online through our Firm’s escrow account here – https://secure.lawpay.com/pages/princelaw/trust. Simply place Goslin Appeal in the Matter No/Client Name box.

If you or someone you know has been charged with possessing a weapon on school grounds, contact us today to discuss YOUR rights.

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Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law

Lower Merion Township Petitions for Allowance to Appeal in Firearm Preemption Case

As our readers are aware, on December 16, 2016, the Commonwealth Court issued its decision in Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC), et al. v. Lower Merion Township, where it held that Lower Merion Township’s preclusion of firearms in township parks was unlawful.

On Friday, January 13, 2017, Lower Merion Township filed a Petition for Allowance of Appeal with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which was docketed at 36 MAL 2017. Thereafter, on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, the City of Philadelphia and City of Harrisburg filed amicus curiae briefs with the Court, asking it to grant Lower Merion Township’s request and overturn the Commonwealth Court’s decision. Later today, we will file our Answer in opposition to Lower Merion’s request.

Generally, once our Answer is filed, it will take the PA Supreme Court between 6 to 8 months, if not more, to decide whether to hear Lower Merion’s appeal and if it grants Lower Merion’s appeal, what legal issues it agrees to consider.

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 us today to discuss YOUR rights and legal options.

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U.S. Government to Withdraw Appeal in Second Amendment As-Applied Challenge Relating to a Mental Health Commitment

As our viewers are aware, I was previously successful in establishing a right to relief in a Second Amendment as-applied challenge involving a mental health commitment – Monumental Decision from the Middle District of Pennsylvania Regarding Mental Health Commitments and the Second Amendment. Thereafter, the U.S. Government filed an appeal to the Third Circuit Court, where the case is currently pending briefing.

Today, the U.S. Government filed a notice with the Third Circuit that the Acting Solicitor General has elected not to sustain the appeal and the Government will be seeking to withdraw the matter in 30 days, as the Government must provide the U.S. Congress with 30 days notice, for the U.S. Congress to intervene if it sees fit. A copy of the letter sent to Speaker Paul Ryan can be downloaded here.

Accordingly, it appears that in 30 days, the appeal will be withdrawn and the only remaining issue will be the attorney fees and costs to be assessed against the Government.

If you have been denied your inalienable right to Keep and Bear Arms as the result of a mental health commitment or non-violent misdemeanor offense, contact us today to discuss your options. Together, we can vindicate YOUR rights!

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