Tag Archives: LTCF

PSP Issues Notice to Act 235 Agents Regarding the Anderson Decision

As our viewers are aware, in August of this year, a devastating en banc opinion was issued by the Pennsylvania Superior Court in Commonwealth v. Anderson, where 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.”

Today, the Pennsylvania State Police issued a notice to all Act 235 agents informing them of the decision and stating that it would be advisable for them to obtain a license to carry firearms. Specifically, the email notification declares:

Dear _____,
Please note that in August 2017, the Pennsylvania Superior Court issued an opinion in Commonwealth v. Anderson, ___ A.3d ___ (Aug. 23, 2017), and ruled that an Act 235 certification is not a substitute for a license to carry. Agents are reminded of the Regulations governing Act 235, at Section 21.26(d), which state “The issuance of a certification card to a privately employed agent does not grant the agent the right or privilege to carry, possess, own, or have under his control a firearm contrary to 18 Pa.C.S. § § 6101—6120 (relating to Uniform Firearms Act).” In light of this ruling, it may be prudent for agents to obtain a license to carry their firearms while in an off-duty status, including traveling to and from places of employment, or in instances where agents are required to conceal a firearm on duty, including loaded carry inside of a vehicle. Agents should direct questions regarding this to their employers.
Sincerely,

Major Troy S. Lokhaiser
Executive Director

As I originally stated in the blog article from August 24th, 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, based on the Superior Court’s decision in Anderson.

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.

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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.

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Say What?!?! Philadelphia Gun Permit Unit Isn’t All Bad And Is Actively Working To Make Licensing Compliant With The Law

As our readers are likely aware, I have frequently addressed Philadelphia’s arrogance and non-compliance with Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act, 18 Pa.C.S. § 6101, et seq. and have sued them several times in relation thereto, including a prior class action that resulted in a $1.45 million dollar settlement and numerous policy changes. However, I truly believe that we must acknowledge when they take positive steps towards ensuring compliance, even if, there are other issues, where they still are not compliant with the law.

Although I will not disclose the name of the individual within the Gun Permit Unit (commonly referred to as the “GPU”), I can state that there is at least one individual, who holds a significant position within the GPU, who believes that everyone eligible should have at least one firearm and a license to carry firearms (“LTCF”). This individual has been working behind the scenes to change the GPU’s policies that we constantly complain about and which are contrary to 18 Pa.C.S. § 6109.

Most recently, I learned that the GPU started tracking the dates of LTCF applications to ensure determinations on licenses are made within 45 calendar days. The GPU worked closely with its IT department, so that it can generate spreadsheets reflecting, among other things, (1) the date of application; (2) deadline date (e.g. 45 calendar days from date of application); (3) the date of PICS denial (if any); (4) date of denial by City (if such occurs); (5) date notification is sent to the applicant; (6)  the date issued; and (7) the elapsed time. This information is frequently being reviewed by an individual in the GPU to ensure the GPU’s  compliance with Section 6109 and to benchmark their processing of LTCFs.

It is my understanding that this was first implemented in March 2017 and that for March the average elapsed time was 28 days! More surprising, although we’re only half way through April, it is my understanding that the average determination time is 14 days! This is a MONUMENTAL improvement that should not go unnoticed. While this doesn’t mean that such is guaranteed to continue or that there won’t be outliers, it is extremely promising.

I also understand that all GPU employees have been trained that if an applicant comes in at or after the 45 day mark and his/her application has not been processed that the file is to be immediately pulled and determination made, which is again a monumental improvement.

Please join me in thanking the GPU in implementing these changes and safeguards to their practices involving the issuance of LTCFs (I bet you never thought you’d hear me say that!).

If you have questions about applying for an LTCF, had your LTCF denied or revoked or had your confidential LTCF applicant information disclosed, contact Firearms Industry Consulting Group, a division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., to discuss your legal rights.


Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademarkand 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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Did Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood and Reporter Stephanie Farr Commit a Felony of the Third Degree?

Yesterday, Reporter Stephanie Farr of Philly.com reported on an incident, where allegedly Mr. Domonique Jordan, an adult aide to a special-needs student, brought a firearm to the Drexel Hill Middle School. Apparently, Mr. Jordan has been charged with possession of a firearm on school property, even though, such charging would appear contrary to the en banc decision I recently obtained from the Superior Court in Commonwealth v. Goslin. Regardless, in her article, she states, “Jordan, an employee with Staffing Plus of Haverford, has a concealed-carry weapons permit and an Act 235 permit, which is issued to security guards by state police, [Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael] Chitwood said.”

Unfortunately for Superintendent Chitwood and Reporter Farr, all license to carry firearms information is confidential and the disclosure of such is a felony of the third degree and also carries with it 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.

For those unaware, Section 6109 is the statutory section regarding the issuance of licenses to carry firearms. Section 6111(i) further provides, in pertinent part,

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, … 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.

As our viewers are aware, I previously litigated a class action against the City of Philadelphia for disclosing confidential license to carry firearms applicant information which resulted in a $1.5 million dollar settlement and also secured a major victory, where the Commonwealth Court held that the use of un-enveloped postcards, which contain license to carry firearms applicant information, is a violation of the confidentiality provisions.

It will be interesting to see whether Superintendent Chitwood and Reporter Farr are held accountable. While Reporter Farr may have been unaware (even though ignorance of the law is not a defense), there is no reason for Superintendent Chitwood to not have been aware of the law.

If your confidential license to carry firearms applicant information has been disclosed, contact Firearms Industry Consulting Group, a division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., to discuss your legal rights.

 


Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademarkand 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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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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Franklin County Sheriff Contends He’s Immune From Judicial Oversight

In a brief filed before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the Franklin County Sheriff has taken an eerily Orwellian position that he is immune from judicial oversight and cannot be held liable for his actions – even those explicitly violating state law.

As our viewers are aware, on May 20, 2016, the Commonwealth Court issued a monumental decision in  John Doe, et al., v. Franklin County, et al., 1634 C.D. 2015 regarding the confidentiality of license to carry firearms (LTCF) applicant information, wherein, among other things, it held that the disclosure of LTCF applicant information through the use of un-enveloped postcards was a breach of the confidentiality provision found in 18 Pa.C.S. 6111(i).

As a result, Franklin County, former Franklin County Sheriff Dane Anthony, and the other defendants, appealed the decision to the PA Supreme Court, where they asked the Court to grant review of the entire Commonwealth Court’s decision, including as to whether the use of un-enveloped postcards constituted a public disclosure. On December 21, 2016, the PA Supreme Court generally denied their request to review the decision; however, it agreed to consider “[w]hether the General Assembly intended to abrogate high public official immunity when it enacted 18 Pa. C.S. §6111(i)” in relation to Defendant former Franklin Co Sheriff Dane Anthony.

On January 30, 2017, the Defendants filed their brief contending that former Sheriff Dane Anthony is entitled to high public official immunity and that sheriffs “should not be burdened with monstrous litigation and damage exposure about possible incidental viewing of a postcard years ago.” More disconcerting, they argue that the Commonwealth Court’s decision “threatens to gut absolute immunity for public officials into no real protection at all.” (Of course, as discussed below, they seem to ignore the fact that high public official immunity was seemingly abolished by the PA Supreme Court in the 1970’s and even if it wasn’t, it is unconstitutional under the Pennsylvania Constitution). However, it is their main argument that is absolutely Orwellian:

statements or acts of high public officials which are made in the course of and within the scope of their official powers or duties give them complete immunity from legal redress. (emphasis added)

It would seem that this position goes directly contrary to the oath declared, pursuant to Article VI, Section 3, by all Sheriffs in Pennsylvania, especially in light of Article 1, Section 11. The oath set-forth in Article VI declares:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth and that I will discharge the duties of my office with fidelity.

Contrary to the oath, the Sheriff’s position is directly in conflict with Article 1, Section 11 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which declares that “[s]uits may be brought against the Commonwealth in such manner, in such courts and in such cases as the Legislature may by law direct,” since high public official immunity is common law (e.g. judicially created) and has never been enacted by the General Assembly. (For those reviewing the docket, as Franklin County, et al., failed to timely submit their reproduced record, they were required to petition the Court to allow them to untimely file their reproduced record, which the Court granted).

Surprisingly, the PA Sheriff’s Association filed an Amicus Curiae brief contending that sheriffs in Pennsylvania should be entitled to high public official immunity and immune from judicial review.

In response, on February 2, 2017, we filed our brief explaining that (1) high public official immunity was seemingly abolished by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision Ayala v. Phila. Bd. of Pub. Educ., where it abolished governmental immunity; (2) high public official immunity is inapplicable to 18 Pa.C.S. 6111; and (3) high public official immunity is unconstitutional.

Yesterday, the Defendants filed their reply brief , which appears to be designed to merely confuse the Justices into believing they actually have an argument.

The Court will now decide whether to hold oral argument on the matter or merely issue a decision based on the briefs. We’ll keep you apprised of further action in this matter.

If you or someone you know has had their confidential license to carry firearms applicant information disclosed, contact us today to discuss today to discuss YOUR rights. Dedicated to the protection of your Second Amendment and Article 1, Section 21 rights, we are YOUR PA Firearms Lawyers.

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Allegheny County Sheriff’s Department Violates the Law in Issuing Unlawful LTCF

Today, I became aware of an article by Stephen J. Nesbitt and Jonathan D. Silver of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette entitled Sheriff’s Office deletes photos of Pirate Parrot ‘gun license’ in which it not only alleges, but provides proof, that the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office issued a license to carry firearms (LTCF) to a fictitious mascot – Pirate Parrot – in violation of the Uniform Firearms Act (UFA).

The article includes a photo of the LTCF that was issued (interestingly reflecting an issuance date of 4/2/15), which the article declares was taken down off of the Sheriff Office’s social media page but which Allegheny County Sheriff Mullens confirmed the existence of.

While some may not be alarmed and may believe it to be humorous, there are significant legal consequences. First, and foremost, a license to carry firearms can only be issued to an “individual,”after the requisite investigation, pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. 6109. Clearly, the Pirate Parrot is not an individual and a quick review of the LTCF Application, which is promulgated by the Pennsylvania State Police, confirms that it would be an impossibility for the Sheriff to issue an LTCF due to the Pirate Parrot lacking identification, which is defined in 37 Pa.Code. 33.102.

Moreover, in conducting the investigation, the Sheriff is to

  • (1)  investigate the applicant’s record of criminal conviction;
  • (2)  investigate whether or not the applicant is under indictment for or has ever been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment exceeding one year;
  • (3)  investigate whether the applicant’s character and reputation are such that the applicant will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety;
  • (4)  investigate whether the applicant would be precluded from receiving a license under subsection (e)(1) or section 6105(h) (relating to persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms); and
  • (5)  conduct a criminal background, juvenile delinquency and mental health check following the procedures set forth in section 6111 (relating to sale or transfer of firearms), receive a unique approval number for that inquiry and record the date and number on the application.

Clearly, it is an impossibility for the Sheriff to conduct such an investigation in relation to a fictitious entity. One must question whether the unique approval number was obtained (whereby false information was provided to the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS)) and whether the Pirate Parrot was charged for his LTCF, since certain portions of the amount collected must be remitted to the State Treasury, pursuant to Section 6109(h)(3). All of these violations, pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. 6119, would be misdemeanors of the first degree.

But there are further violations of the law. Pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. 6111(g)(3.1),

Any person, … 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.

And then there are the civil consequence of disclosing LTCF applicant information, as provided by Section 6111(i)

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,… 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.

Plus, there are violations related to the Allegheny County Sheriff Department’s inclusion of false information into the Pennsylvania State Police’s database of LTCF applicant information.

What is most disconcerting is that this is the same Sheriff’s Office that imposes unlawful regulations on applicants who apply for LTCFs. As set-forth in Section 6109, only the PSP is to promulgate the form to apply for an LTCF and the criteria for denying an individual is found in Section 6109(e). Yet, in the absence of any criteria found within Section 6109(e), the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Department denies individuals who, prior to a finding of guilt, have an open case in any court and of any type (including traffic citations, parking tickets, fish and game, etc). It also denies anyone with a closed case in any court where exists a remaining case balance, even where the individual has a payment plan with the court. And lastly, in direct violation of Section 6109, the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Department refuses to accept and process applications for non-PA Resident Licenses.

It would be nice if the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Department spent more time on complying with the law than violating the law…but all may not be lost. Given the issuance of Pirate Parrot’s LTCF, now there exists a legal and constitutional basis, under Equal Protection, to challenge all of the Sheriff Departments denials and illegal requirements. More importantly, some in the Sheriff’s Department may have the opportunity to keep former Attorney General Kathleen Kane company in jail.

If you believe your confidential LTCF applicant information has been disclosed by an individual or governmental agency, contact us today to discuss your options!

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