Tag Archives: municipal regulation

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.

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Commonwealth Court Finds Lower Merion Township’s Firearm Regulations UNLAWFUL

Today, in a case that I handled, the Commonwealth Court issued a decision in Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC), et al. v. Lower Merion Township, 1693 C.D. 2015, reversing the trial court and finding that FOAC was entitled to a preliminary injunction against Lower Merion Township’s unlawful firearm regulations.

The background to the case is that in 2011, Lower Merion Township passed an ordinance amending section 109-16 of its Code (Ordinance) to prohibit persons from “carry[ing] or discharg[ing] firearms of any kind in a park without a special permit, unless exempted.” Lower Merion Township, Pa., Code §109-16. The Ordinance imposes a maximum fine of $600.00 per violation and authorizes the police to remove violators from Township parks or recreation areas.

In 2014, FOAC  contacted the Township and alleged that the Ordinance violated section 6120 of the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act (UFA) because it improperly restricted firearm possession in Township parks. Upon review, the Township determined that the Ordinance was consistent with the UFA because it only prohibited the unlawful possession of firearms in parks and, therefore, chose not to repeal or revise it. Shortly thereafter, FOAC and a resident of the Township filed suit in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas and sought a preliminary injunction that the court denied. The underlying appeal ensued.

Reaffirming the PA Supreme Court’s decision in Ortiz v. Commonwealth, 681 A.2d 152 (Pa. 1996), the Commonwealth Court found that FOAC’s right to relief was clear. Specifically, the Commonwealth Court declared

Rather, the critical upshot is our recognition that Ortiz’s “crystal clear holding” prohibits this Court from endorsing the argument that a cognizable distinction exists between regulating lawful activity and unlawful activity.

Moreover, based on Commonwealth Court Judge Pelligrini’s prior footnote (known as fn. 9) in Dillon v. City of Erie, 3 A.3d 467 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2014) (en banc), the Township attempted to argue that it could regulate as a private property owner. In explicitly rejecting the Township’s argument, the Court held that

the UFA explicitly prohibits a township from regulating “in any manner” and contains no express exemptions authorizing a township to enact ordinances permitting firearm regulation on its property, i.e., parks, comparable to that contained in the Game Law…Therefore, the Township’s argument that Firearm Owners’ right to relief is not clear based on its authority to regulate its parks as a property owner pursuant to Wolfe is unpersuasive.

Furthermore, the Court found the Township’s arguments that immediate and irreparable harm would not result as absurd, given the statutory proscription on regulating firearms and ammunition. Likewise, the Court found that “refusing an injunction would sanction the Township’s continued statutory violations of the UFA and, therefore, be injurious to Firearm Owners and the public” and that “the last nonconstested status existed prior to the Township’s enactment of the Ordinance. Therefore, an injunction enjoining the Ordinance would restore the parties to their last uncontested status and preserve the status quo.”

For those interested, you can download copies of our Brief and Reply Brief, by clicking on the applicable prior text.

Please join me in thanking FOAC for remaining steadfast in its dedication to defending Article 1, Section 21 and 18 Pa.C.S. 6120. I would highly encourage anyone in a financial position to do so, to donate to FOAC so it can continue to support important litigation defending our Rights.

#BestHanukahPresentFromTheCommonwealthCourtEVER! #MerryChristmasSenatorLeach #SenatorLeachITookMyBestShotAndWON! (This is in relation to your comment that I should take my “best shot” at 1:27 mark – http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Gun-Rights-Supporters-Rally-in-Suburban-Philadelphia-296381701.html)

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