Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

PA House Judiciary Committee Set to Vote on (and in Favor of) ANTI-Gun Bills this Week!

As I discussed in Pennsylvania Firearm Rights in the Crosshairs – The Rights That Stand to be Infringed, the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee has been considering a number of extremely anti-Second Amendment bills, including a bill providing for extreme risk protection orders. Although Attorney Adam Kraut and I testified before the House Judiciary Committee on the unconstitutionality of these bills, as well as, the other tangential concerns, the House Judiciary Committee is poised this week – on Tuesday, June 19th at 9 AM in the Majority Caucus Room – to vote on these unconstitutional bills that seek to deprive individuals of their rights – rights made inviolate by the Pennsylvania Constitution, pursuant to Article 1, Section 25. More disconcerting, it appears that a number of the members of the Committee plan to vote in favor of these draconian and unconstitutional bills, while refusing to bring up pro-Second Amendment bills that are pending in the Committee, such as SB 5, which has been pending since April 26, 2017! Let me be explicitly clear, these bills are likely to pass, absent your immediate action.

The bills to be considered are: “HB 273 (Donatucci), HB 1400 (Santora), HB 1872 (Dean/D Costa), HB 2060 (M Quinn), HB 2227 (Stephens), HB 2266 (Cruz), HB 2267 (Cruz), HB 2275 (Grove/Briggs), and HB 2463 (Nelson), as well as any other business that may come before the committee.” While HB 2463 is a pro-Second Amendment bill that would remove any prohibition relating to involuntary commitments under Section 302 of the Mental Health and Procedures Act and provide a relief mechanism for those who become prohibited under state or federal law as a result of an involuntary commitment, there are anti-Second Amendment amendments being proposed to it.

A quick synopsis provided by the Committee (i.e. biased in favor of enacting these proposals) of each bill and proposed amendments reveals:

HB 273 (Donatucci) creates a voluntary self-exclusion program by which an individual can agree to be prohibited from purchasing or receiving a firearm for a period of one year, three years, or lifetime.  There is one amendment, A07354, which removes the lifetime self-exclusion option, makes removal from the list automatic upon expiration of the self-exclusion period, and removes a requirement that the PA State Police provide for safekeeping of surrendered firearms.

HB 1400 (Santora) makes two changes relating to background checks for the sale or transfer of firearms.  First, the bill requires so-called “universal background checks” by requiring that private sales of long guns be subject to the same background check requirements that currently apply to sales conducted by a licensed dealer of firearms or a private sale of handguns.  Second, the bill permits a person who possesses a valid license to carry a firearm to utilize a single successful background check to transact multiple firearm sales at the same gun show.  There are no amendments.

HB 1872 (Dean/D Costa) adds bump stocks and similar devices to the list of offensive weapons prohibited under state law.  The bill also provides that the offense will not apply to possession of such a device which was obtained prior to the bill’s effective date and it requires the Attorney General to publish notice in the PA Bulletin describing in detail the change in the law within 10 days of enactment of the bill.  There are no amendments.

HB 2060 (M Quinn) amends the Uniform Firearms Act and the Protection From Abuse Act to amend the process and requirements for relinquishment of firearms following a PFA order or conviction of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.  This is the House companion bill to the much-discussed “Senate Bill 501.”  There will be one amendment, which incorporates the wording of SB 501 while correcting drafting errors in that bill and harmonizing certain features of SB 501 with the “extreme risk protection order” process discussed in connection with HB 2227 below.

HB 2227 (Stephens) provides for a new judicial process to temporarily suspend a person’s right to possess or purchase a firearm.  An extreme risk protection order (ERPO) will be a court order prohibiting a person from possessing or obtaining a firearm based upon a finding that the person presents a risk of suicide or of causing death or serious bodily injury to another person.  The process is very similar to the current PFA process, but allows both law enforcement and household members to seek such orders.  An order can last between three months and one year in duration and will automatically expire unless renewed by the court, which renewal requires notice and another hearing.  There will be one amendment, which adds or clarifies numerous procedural protections to the respondent in such a proceeding.  We remain in discussions with interested stakeholders to achieve a consensus.

HB 2266 (Cruz) and HB 2267 (Cruz) together shorten the period in which courts and mental health agencies must send mental health data to the PA State Police from 7 days to 72 hours of adjudicating an individual to be incompetent or involuntarily committing an individual to a mental institution for inpatient treatment.  There are no amendments.

HB 2275 (Grove/Briggs) amends the Crimes Code to rectify a 2011 ruling by the PA Supreme Court which held that the prior conviction offenses that prohibit a person from possessing, transferring, or using a firearm do not include an attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit those same crimes.  There is one amendment, A07610, which is technical.

HB 2463 (Nelson) makes three changes related to the firearm rights of those subjected to involuntary mental health treatment.  First, the bill removes the prohibition against firearm possession for those subjected to emergency involuntary mental health treatment.  Second, the bill provides a procedure for any person ineligible to possess a firearm due to a mental health issue to have his right to obtain a firearm reinstated.  Third, the bill requires the PA State Police to send any record relevant to a determination of whether a person is disqualified from possessing a firearm due to an adjudication of incompetency or an involuntary commitment within 72 hours to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  There are two amendments.  The first, A07403, clarifies that persons presently prohibited from possessing a firearm due to a previous involuntary mental health commitment will have to seek a restoration of firearm rights through the new petition process.  The second, A07614, provides that an emergency involuntary mental health commitment will result in a six-month firearm prohibitor that automatically expires at the end of that period.

As such, it is imperative that you contact each member of the House Judiciary Committee and tell them to vote AGAINST HB 273, HB 1400, HB 1872, HB 2060, HB 2227, HB 2266 , HB 2267, HB 2275, and FOR HB 2463, but AGAINST the proposed amendments (A07403 and A07614). If you are a constituent of one of these members, please make sure to let your Representative know that their vote in favor of any of these bills, except for HB 2463, will result in you voting for someone else in November.

As emails can be easily deleted without the recipient reviewing them, I am imploring you to FAX your respectful correspondences to your Representative and House Judiciary Members, and then follow up via phone call to ensure that they all received your correspondence. If you wish to additionally send a copy via email, their respective email addresses are listed below.

The House Judiciary Members are:

  1. Chairman Ron Marsico – (717) 783-2014, Fax: (717) 705-2010 RMarsico@pahousegop.com;
  2. Democratic Chair Joseph Petrarca – (717) 787-5142, Fax: (717) 705-2014 JPetrarc@pahouse.net;
  3. Tarah Toohil – (570) 453-1344, Fax: (570) 459-3946 TToohil@pahousegop.com;
  4. Stephen Bloom – (717) 772-2280, Fax: (717) 705-2012 SBloom@pahousegop.com;
  5. Becky Corbin – (717) 783-2520, Fax: (717) 782-2927 BCorbin@pahousegop.com;
  6. Sheryl Delozier – (717) 783-5282, Fax: (717) 772-9994 SDelozie@pahousegop.com;
  7. Harold English – (717) 260-6407, Fax: (717) 783-5740 HEnglish@pahousegop.com;
  8. Garth Everett – (717) 787-5270, Fax: (717) 772-9958 GEverett@pahousegop.com;
  9. Barry Jozwiak – (717) 772-9940, Fax: (717) 782-2925 BJozwiak@pahousegop.com;
  10. Kate Klunk – (717) 787-4790, Fax: (717) 782-2952 KKlunk@pahousegop.com;
  11. Jerry Knowles – (717) 787-9029, Fax: (717) 782-2908 JKnowles@pahousegop.com;
  12. Tedd Nesbit – (717) 783-6438, Fax: (717) 782-2943 TNesbit@pahousegop.com;
  13. Rick Saccone – (717) 260-6122, Fax: (717) 787-9174 RSaccone@pahousegop.com;
  14. Paul Schemel – (717) 263-1053, Fax: (717) 263-1059 PSchemel@pahousegop.com;
  15. Todd Stephens – (717) 260-6163, Fax: (717) 782-2898 TStephen@pahousegop.com;
  16. Jesse Topper – (717) 787-7076, Fax: (717) 782-2933 JTopper@pahousegop.com;
  17. Martina White – (717) 787-6740, Fax: (717) 782-2929 MWhite@pahousegop.com;
  18. Bryan Barbin – (814) 487-4041, Fax: (814) 487-4043 BBarbin@pahouse.net;
  19. Ryan Bizzarro – (717) 772-2297, Fax: (717) 780-4767 RBizzarro@pahouse.net;
  20. Tim Briggs – (717) 705-7011, Fax: (717) 772-9860  TBriggs@pahouse.net;
  21. Dom Costa – (717) 783-9114, Fax: (717) 780-4761 DCosta@pahouse.net;
  22. Tina Davis – (717) 783-4903, Fax: (717) 783-0682 TDavis@pahouse.net;
  23. Jason Dawkins – (717) 787-1354, Fax: (717) 780-4789 JDawkins@pahouse.net;
  24. Madeleine Dean – (717) 783-7619, Fax: (717) 780-4754 MDean@pahouse.net;
  25. Joanna McClinton – (717) 772-9850, Fax: (717) 783-1516 JMcClinton@pahouse.net;
  26. Dan Miller – (717) 783-1850, Fax: (717) 780-4756 DMiller@pahouse.net;
  27. Gerald Mullery – 570) 636-3500, Fax: (570) 636-3502 GMullery@pahouse.net.

 

If you or someone you know has had their right to Keep and Bear Arms infringed, 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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With PA Representative Sims Censoring Pro-Second Amendment Comments, FICG Files Letters of Objection with House Judiciary Committee Members

Earlier today, Attorney Joshua Prince and Adam Kraut sent letters to the Chairman of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Judiciary Committee and all of its members regarding the current proceedings pertaining to gun control legislation.

They encourage you all to contact the Chairman and members of the Committee to demand further hearings with input from the citizens of the Commonwealth. For more information, see Attorney Prince’s prior blog article here.

Attorneys Prince and Kraut request all Pennsylvanians to join them on Monday April 30th at 10 AM in the rotunda of the Capitol Building in Harrisburg for the Annual Pennsylvania Right to Keep and Bear Arms Rally. Attorney Prince is scheduled to speak at the event.

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Pennsylvania Firearm Rights in the Crosshairs – The Rights That Stand to be Infringed

Starting this week, at the direction of Chairman Ron Marisco, the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee held week-long “Public Safety – gun laws and violence” hearings regarding numerous pending firearms-related bills, which seek to restrict firearm rights in Pennsylvania in every regard from outright banning all semi-automatic firearms and high capacity magazines to banning any part that “accelerates the rate of fire of semi-automatic firearm[s].” More disconcerting than Chairman Marisco’s scheduling of these hearings is the fact that seemingly in violation of Article 1, Section 20 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, even though he acknowledges that they are “public hearings,” he specifically precluded interested parties in testifying regarding these bills and stated to Bobby Lawrence (former US Senate Candidate) that if others want a voice then let them do it through e-mails to legislators or by Letters to the Editor.

As reflected below, the General Assembly does not have the first clue about the interplay between the state and federal firearm laws or the existing firearm laws here in Pennsylvania and federally. Nor do many of the Members have any respect for the State or U.S. Constitution. It is for these reasons that testimony is absolutely necessary from interested parties.

Thus, as explained below and as a result of Chairman Marisco’s statement and preclusion of interested parties being afforded to testify, it is imperative that you not only contact your state representative and senator, but additionally contact Chairman Marisco and all other members of the House Judiciary Committee regarding your opposition to any infringement of your constitutional rights. (The contact information for the House Judiciary Members is at the bottom of this article and I would encourage everyone to FAX any respectful correspondences on these issues to your representatives and the member of the House Judiciary Committee and then call to confirm their receipt of your fax, since some Members are contending that they have not received ANY correspondences in opposition to these bills). More importantly, it is imperative that you let your voice be heard, regardless of these Members’ political affiliation, as many of this anti-Article 1, Section 21 and Second Amendment bills are being proposed by alleged Republicans)

For those interested in the transcripts and video/audio from the PA Legislative Services (PLS) in relation to these hearings (as the Committee has failed, without explanation, to post the formal transcripts – also be aware, as it doesn’t appear that the videos are compressed, it may take a while to download them):

  1. Transcript and video from hearing on Monday, April 9th, at 11 AM, Room 140 – Main Capitol;
  2. Transcript and video from hearing on Tuesday, April 10th at 10 AM, Room 140 – Main Capitol;
  3. Transcript and video from hearing on Wednesday, April 11th at 10 AM, Room 140 – Main Capitol;
  4. Transcript and video from hearing on Monday, April 16th at 10:30 AM, Room 205 – Ryan Office;
  5. Transcript and video from hearing on Tuesday, April 17th at 9:30 AM, Room 140 – Main Capitol;
  6. Transcript and video from hearing on Wednesday, April 18th at 9:00 AM, Room 205 – Ryan Office.

From the transcripts and videos, you will see that they are discussing SB 17, SB 18, SB 383, SB 501, HB 175, HB 671, HB 832, HB 870, HB 1233, HB 1400, HB 1872, HB 2060, HB 2097, HB 2109HB 2149, HB 2150, and  HB 2216.

HB 1872

House Bill 1872, sponsored by Representatives Madeleine Dean (D) and Dom Costa (D), seeks to “Ban Rapid Fire or ‘Multiburst Trigger Activators’ in Pennsylvania.” The text can be found here. This bill seeks to change 18 Pa.C.S. § 908 – Prohibited Offensive Weapons to include “possession of an accelerated trigger activator purchased or otherwise obtained by the defendant prior to the effective date of this paragraph.” It then goes on to define “accelerate trigger activator” as a “part or combination of parts designed and intended to accelerate the rate of fire of a semi-automatic firearm to simulate the rate of fire of a machinegun”

First and foremost, the sponsors apparently are completely unaware of numerous applicable U.S. and State constitutional provisions that result in this proposal being unconstitutional. As held by the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939), the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution specifically protects military weapons, which is inclusive of machineguns. Although there is no equivalent decision under Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, unlike its federal counterpart, the PA Constitution declares that “[t]he right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the State shall not be questioned,” which is then acknowledged to be an inalienable right by Article 1, Section 25, which provides that “[t]o guard against transgressions of the high powers which we have delegated, we declare that everything in this article is excepted out of the general powers of government and shall forever remain inviolate.” (emphasis added).

Even if Article 1, Section 21 and the Second Amendment were not applicable, this proposal is unconstitutional under the ex post facto law provisions of Article 1, Section 17 of the Pennsylvania Constitution and Article 1, Section 10, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution. It would also constitute an unlawful taking, without just compensation, under Article 1, Section 10 of the Pennsylvania Constitution and the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Didn’t these Members of the General Assembly take an oath to uphold the State and U.S. Constitutions? I am pretty sure they did, as such is specifically required by Article VI, Section 3, which declares:

Senators, Representatives and all judicial, State and county officers shall, before entering on the duties of their respective offices, take and subscribe the following oath or affirmation before a person authorized to administer oaths.

“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.”

The oath or affirmation shall be administered to a member of the Senate or to a member of the House of Representatives in the hall of the House to which he shall have been elected.

Any person refusing to take the oath or affirmation shall forfeit his office.

What about making thousands of law-abiding individuals in Pennsylvania, overnight, into criminals, by their mere possession of these devices, without any means or opportunity to dispose of them? By the way, in case you were unaware, a violation of Section 908 is a misdemeanor of the first degree, which will result in the person being prohibited, in perpetuity, from purchasing and possessing firearms and ammunition, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 921(g)(1) – but that’s inconsequential, because we need to do something to solve a non-existent problem, right? While the sponsors and the media would have you believe that bump stocks were utilized in the horrific Las Vegas shooting, the Preliminary Investigative Report of shooting, although listing several bump stocks as having been recovered, does not list them as having been utilized in the attack.

Setting the constitutional issues aside, the sponsors lack an engineering understanding that the cyclic rate of a firearm is determined not by how fast or slow a particular person or device can cause the firearm to cycle but rather based on the fastest speed at which the firearm can operate. As reflected in this video, Jerry Miculek can out-shoot a bump stock and is FAR more accurate. Does that mean that Jerry Miculek will be automatically imprisoned if he steps foot in Pennsylvania? What about competition triggers? Are they to be included in this?

 

SB 17

Senate Bill 17, sponsored by Wayne Fontana (D), seeks to ban, with limited exceptions, semi-automatic firearms, including HANDGUNS and shotguns, and large capacity magazines and institute a registry of semi-automatic firearms. The text can be found here. This bill would require an individual owning a semi-automatic firearm to obtain a “certificate of possession” from the Pennsylvania State Police and then an individual who is granted a certificate of possession is limited to the locations where he/she may possess the semi-automatic rifle. Better yet, the Pennsylvania State Police could deny you because of your “character and reputation,” which is not defined. Also, you will be charged a fee of $15, per firearm, every four years. Moreover, there is no grandfathering provision in relation to large capacity magazines and turns law-abiding individuals into criminals overnight. Of interesting note, since this is being offered as a result of the Parkland shooter, we now know that the Parkland shooter did NOT use large capacity magazines.

 

SB 18

Senate Bill 18, sponsored by Wayne Fontana (D), seeks to provide for “extreme risk orders,” where in ex parte hearings (i.e. in the absence of due process) an individual can be stripped of their constitutional right to Keep and Bear Arms. The text can be found here. Better yet, it even provides immunity to the person seeking an extreme risk order, even if there were purposeful omissions or misstatements in the petition!

 

HB 2216

House Bill 2216, sponsored by Warren Kampf (R), seeks to ban any devices that can “accelerate the rate of fire of a semiautomatic firearm” and “large capacity ammunition magazines” which is defined as any magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds or 5 shotgun shells. The text can be found here. Once again, apparently Representative Kampf has no understanding of the State or Federal Constitution and would, overnight, turn law-abiding individuals into criminals, as it fails to grandfather pre-existing large capacity magazines and fails to provide any means or opportunity to dispose of them.

 

HB 2251

House Bill 2251, sponsored by Thomas Murt (R), seeks to, inter alia, define “ammunition,” “gun ranges” and  “other weapons,” prohibit prohibited person from possessing or manufacturing ammunition (even though 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) already prohibits such), then requires background checks on the purchase of all ammunition – including from a gun range (which may not have an FFL and would therefore be precluded from performing a background check) – precludes any purchase of ammunition that does not occur face-to-face and precludes individuals from purchasing ammunition in another state and then bringing it into Pennsylvania, without it going through an FFL. The text can be found here.

 

HB 1233

House Bill 1233, sponsored by Thomas Murt (R), seeks to monumentally revise Pennsylvania’s Mental Health and Procedures Act, permitting far more individuals to constitute “qualified professionals,” makes it much easier for an individual to be committed under Sections 302 and 303, and fails to address the unconstitutionality of Section 302 (i.e. as held by Judge Kim Gibson of the Federal District Court for Western District of Pennsylvania, a Section 302 commitment lacks any form of due process). The text can be found here.

 

HB 1400 and HB 2249

House Bill 1400, sponsored by James Santora (R), and House Bill 2249, sponsored by Thomas Murt (R), seeks to preclude private party sales and references them, erroneously, as a “gun show loophole.” The text can be found here for HB 1400 and here for HB 2249. While it putatively provides an exception, where the individual purchased a firearm from the same dealer within 48 hours, the language requires the person to produce a copy of a record/application of sale form, which is only utilized when the individual purchases a firearm under the definition provided by Section 6102 (i.e. generally speaking, a handgun). Thus, if an individual purchased a rifle from the same dealer, the exception would not apply, as the purchaser would be unable to produce a record/application of sale form.

 

HB 832

House Bill 832, sponsored by Madeleine Dean (D), seeks to re-victimize those who have had a firearm stolen, by criminalizing their failure to report, within 72 hours, their victimization. The text can be found here. In what other context would anyone ever consider criminalizing the failure of a victim of crime to report that crime?

 

HB 2109

House Bill 2109, sponsored by Stephen McCarter (D), seeks to permit firearm restraining orders, which permits the assessment of fees and costs against the subject of an issue firearm restraining order, as well as, ex parte orders, in violation of all tenants of due process. The 52 pages of text can be found here.

 

HB 2252

House Bill 2252, sponsored by Thomas Murt (R), seeks to duplicate the existing mental prohibition (see 18 U.S.C. 924(g)(4) and 18 PA.C.S. 6105(c)(4)) for those who are involuntarily committed to outpatient treatment. The text can be found here.

 

HB 2097

House Bill 2097, sponsored by Jason Dawkins (D), seeks to prohibit anyone who is merely arrested for or charged with a putative domestic violence offense, in the absence of due process, from possessing and purchasing firearms. The text can be found here. As everyone is aware, an individual who is subject to a Protection From Abuse Order or is convicted of a domestic violence offense is already prohibited under state and federal law (see, 18 Pa.C.S. §§ 6105(a.1)(2), (c)(6), (c)(9); 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(8), (9)) Worse yet, reflecting the absence of any consideration in the drafting of this bill, it provides that any such prohibition would apply, for example, in a situation where one criminally trespasses on the property of or steals money or other object from an intimate partner.

 

SB 501 and HB 2060

House Bill 2060, sponsored by Representative Marguerite Quinn (R), and Senate Bill 501, sponsored by Senator Thomas Killon (R), are another solution in search of a problem, seeks to require an individual who is prohibited as a result of a domestic violence conviction or Protection from Abuse Order to turn in his/her firearms and ammunition, even though 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(8) already requires such. The text can be found here for HB 2060 and here for SB 501. Moreover, the requirement to turn over one’s firearms would be restricted to either a law enforcement department or a dealer, even though the current law additionally provides for third-party safekeeping permits and CeaseFirePA has been unable to show a single occasion where an individual gained access to firearms from a third-party safekeeper. Oh yeah, they also fail to mention that if an individual who holds a safekeeping permit permits access to the firearms by the prohibited person, it is already a misdemeanor of the first degree, pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 6105(a.1)(5); whereby, once again, under 18 U.S.C. § 921(g)(1), the individual will be barred, in perpetuity, from possessing and purchasing firearms and ammunition.

For the icing on the cake, it also provides that any firearm turned into the police would be considered “abandoned” after a year. I especially like the absurdity of the search of the “database of firearm sales,” when 18 Pa.C.S. § 6111.4 specifically prohibits the maintenance of any registry of firearms and when the sales database is only related to handguns. Better yet, it permits, in violation of due process and the takings provisions, for the entity that has possession of the firearm(s) to sell them and retain the proceeds.

 

HB 870 and SB 383

House Bill 870, sponsored by Representative Cris Dush (R), and Senate Bill 383, sponsored by Senator Donald White, seeks to permit armed school personnel (which I am in favor of) but both fail to address the issues I previously raised here and here to SB 383. The text can be found here for HB 870 and here for SB 383. I have written an extensive amendment for SB 383 or HB 870, which would address all of the relevant concerns, and am waiting for it to be offered.

 

As emails can be easily deleted without the recipient reviewing them and numerous Members have stated that they have not received any correspondences in opposition to these bills, I am imploring you to FAX any respectful correspondences to your Representative and House Judiciary Members, and then follow up via phone call to ensure that they all received your correspondence. If you wish to additionally send a copy via email, their respective email addresses are listed below.

The House Judiciary Members are:

  1. Chairman Ron Marsico – (717) 783-2014, Fax: (717) 705-2010 RMarsico@pahousegop.com;
  2. Democratic Chair Joseph Petrarca – (717) 787-5142, Fax: (717) 705-2014 JPetrarc@pahouse.net;
  3. Tarah Toohil – (570) 453-1344, Fax: (570) 459-3946 TToohil@pahousegop.com;
  4. Stephen Bloom – (717) 772-2280, Fax: (717) 705-2012 SBloom@pahousegop.com;
  5. Becky Corbin – (717) 783-2520, Fax: (717) 782-2927 BCorbin@pahousegop.com;
  6. Sheryl Delozier – (717) 783-5282, Fax: (717) 772-9994 SDelozie@pahousegop.com;
  7. Harold English – (717) 260-6407, Fax: (717) 783-5740 HEnglish@pahousegop.com;
  8. Garth Everett – (717) 787-5270, Fax: (717) 772-9958 GEverett@pahousegop.com;
  9. Barry Jozwiak – (717) 772-9940, Fax: (717) 782-2925 BJozwiak@pahousegop.com;
  10. Kate Klunk – (717) 787-4790, Fax: (717) 782-2952 KKlunk@pahousegop.com;
  11. Jerry Knowles – (717) 787-9029, Fax: (717) 782-2908 JKnowles@pahousegop.com;
  12. Tedd Nesbit – (717) 783-6438, Fax: (717) 782-2943 TNesbit@pahousegop.com;
  13. Rick Saccone – (717) 260-6122, Fax: (717) 787-9174 RSaccone@pahousegop.com;
  14. Paul Schemel – (717) 263-1053, Fax: (717) 263-1059 PSchemel@pahousegop.com;
  15. Todd Stephens – (717) 260-6163, Fax: (717) 782-2898 TStephen@pahousegop.com;
  16. Jesse Topper – (717) 787-7076, Fax: (717) 782-2933 JTopper@pahousegop.com;
  17. Martina White – (717) 787-6740, Fax: (717) 782-2929 MWhite@pahousegop.com;
  18. Bryan Barbin – (814) 487-4041, Fax: (814) 487-4043 BBarbin@pahouse.net;
  19. Ryan Bizzarro – (717) 772-2297, Fax: (717) 780-4767 RBizzarro@pahouse.net;
  20. Tim Briggs – (717) 705-7011, Fax: (717) 772-9860  TBriggs@pahouse.net;
  21. Dom Costa – (717) 783-9114, Fax: (717) 780-4761 DCosta@pahouse.net;
  22. Tina Davis – (717) 783-4903, Fax: (717) 783-0682 TDavis@pahouse.net;
  23. Jason Dawkins – (717) 787-1354, Fax: (717) 780-4789 JDawkins@pahouse.net;
  24. Madeleine Dean – (717) 783-7619, Fax: (717) 780-4754 MDean@pahouse.net;
  25. Joanna McClinton – (717) 772-9850, Fax: (717) 783-1516 JMcClinton@pahouse.net;
  26. Dan Miller – (717) 783-1850, Fax: (717) 780-4756 DMiller@pahouse.net;
  27. Gerald Mullery – 570) 636-3500, Fax: (570) 636-3502 GMullery@pahouse.net.

 

If you or someone you know has had their right to Keep and Bear Arms infringed, 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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Governor Wolf to Permit Hunting with Leashed Tracking Dogs

Yesterday, Governor Wolf brought Pennsylvania hunting into the 21st Century by permitting the use of leashed tracking dogs – which is permitted by 35 other states – by enacting SB 135.

SB 135 amends Section 2383 of the Pennsylvania Game Code by permitting an individual to:

Make use of a leashed tracking dog to track a white-tailed deer, bear or elk in an attempt to recover an animal which has been legally killed or wounded during any open season for white-tailed deer, bear or elk.

Please join us in thanking Governor Wolf for allowing law-abiding hunters to use dogs to track a wounded or harvested animal that may have traveled some distance, especially in areas of varied terrain or during poor weather conditions.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a game violation, 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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After an Arrest in Pennsylvania, You Get a Free Phone Call, Right? Well, Not Exactly…

Having watched a lot of Law & Order, most individuals believe that upon arrest, they will be provided at least one free phone call but that isn’t exactly true in Pennsylvania.

Upon arrest, there is no immediate right to a phone call in Pennsylvania. Within a reasonable time of being arrested, the Police officer must either release the defendant or bring the defendant before a Magisterial District Judge to be preliminarily arraigned on charges.

What is a reasonable time? Unfortunately, this is has never been strictly defined in PA and has varied on a case by case basis. One day is generally accepted to be the longest acceptable time to be held without being arraigned.

Moreover, the police do have the authority to arrest people and then release them to be charged later by citation or summons. This type of arrest and release is only allowed in public drunkenness and DUI cases, or in cases in which the individual cannot immediately verify their identity.

There is no right to call anyone during that period of time.

If the police do choose to question a defendant, the individual’s Miranda Rights are implicated. The police must advise a defendant of those rights, including the right to counsel. If a defendant invokes his right to counsel (which you should ALWAYS do IMMEDIATELY, regardless of what the police threaten you with or promised to you), questioning must cease, although there are plenty of examples where the police or a different police officer continues asking questions. In our experience, in most instances, the police will simply end questioning upon invocation of counsel and will not give a defendant an opportunity to obtain counsel.

After the police prepare the charges, a defendant will be brought before a Magisterial District Judge for preliminary arraignment. A defendant does not have a right to contact anyone, including counsel, before or at arraignment. Some judges have also made it difficult for lawyers who know that their client has been arrested to appear at preliminary arraignment (we believe that this a violation of the 6th amendment but have never had a chance to litigate it).

However, after preliminary arraignment, a defendant does have a right to contact individuals, including his/her attorney. The Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 540 states:

 (H)  After the preliminary arraignment, if the defendant is detained, the defendant shall be given an immediate and reasonable opportunity to post bail, secure counsel, and notify others of the arrest. Thereafter, if the defendant does not post bail, he or she shall be committed to jail as provided by law.

There is no case law interpreting this provision.

At this point, depending on the county, the defendant may be held in custody by the police, the sheriff or a constable. In our experience, the magisterial district judge will normally allow for multiple phone calls.

But, what if my attorney’s phone number is in my wallet or on my phone? Generally, a Judge will allow a defendant to review his/her cell phone or wallet for any phone numbers. We have also seen cases in which the Judge will allow a defendant to use a phone book or will direct court staff to do an internet search to get a phone number. We’ve also seen judges put a defendant in a room with a phone and tell them that they have 15 minutes to call whoever they want.

The only time that we have seen a defendant not be allowed to check their cell phone is if the phone may constitute or contain evidence of a crime. For example, drug dealers often exchange text messages about drug deals. A court would not give a defendant the chance to delete text messages.

So, while there is no obligation to allow a defendant to have access to a wallet or cell phone, the arraigning court does regularly allow it. Even if a defendant is not given that access, they can certainly use a phone book to look up their attorney’s number, or they can call a family member or have a family member call their attorney.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, contact Prince Law Offices, P.C. today to discuss YOUR rights and legal options.

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With a Stroke of a Pen, PA Governor Wolf Limits Firearm Rights by Proclaiming State of Emergency

Today, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf issued a proclamation declaring Pennsylvania’s heroin and opioid epidemic a statewide disaster emergency, seemingly triggering the firearm prohibitions found in 18 Pa.C.S. § 6107 during declared emergencies.

Specifically, Section 6107 provides:

(a) General rule.–No person shall carry a firearm upon the public streets or upon any public property during an emergency proclaimed by a State or municipal governmental executive unless that person is:
(1) Actively engaged in a defense of that person’s life or property from peril or threat.
(2) Licensed to carry firearms under section 6109 (relating to licenses) or is exempt from licensing under section 6106(b) (relating to firearms not to be carried without a license).
(b) Seizure, taking and confiscation.–Except as otherwise provided under subsection (a) and notwithstanding the provisions of 35 Pa.C.S. Ch. 73 (relating to Commonwealth services) or any other provision of law to the contrary, no firearm, accessory or ammunition may be seized, taken or confiscated during an emergency unless the seizure, taking or confiscation would be authorized absent the emergency.
(c) Definitions.–As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:
“Accessory.” Any scope, sight, bipod, sling, light, magazine, clip or other related item that is attached to or necessary for the operation of a firearm.
“Firearm.” The term includes any weapon that is designed to or may readily be converted to expel any projectile by the action of an explosive or the frame or receiver of any weapon.

(It must be noted that the definition of a firearm is specific to this section of the code and not the general definition of a firearm found in Section 6102. The definition of a firearm in this section is far more broad than the definition in Section 6102)

While neither Section 6102 nor Section 6107 define what constitutes an “emergency proclaimed by a State…governmental executive,” it is clear that Governor Wolf is the state governmental executive. Moreover, the language utilized in the proclamation seems to trigger the prohibition since it is a proclamation of an emergency, pursuant to 35 Pa.C.S. § 7301.

Specifically, the Proclamation provides:

Disaster Declaration.jpg Disaster Declaration 2.jpg

So what does this mean?

This means that an individual, who could generally carry a firearm in public without a license to carry firearms (LTCF) (with the exception of in the City of Philadelphia as a city of the first class), cannot do so during a state of emergency. However, as the above exceptions reflect, this does not include when the individual is using the firearm for self-defense or if the individual has a license to carry firearms. This is another reason why I always recommend that any individual, regardless of whether he/she desires to conceal carry a firearm, procure an LTCF.

What about confiscation of firearms?

Since Katrina and the confiscation of firearms that occurred during the state of emergency there, individuals are generally concerned about the Government using a state of emergency to confiscate firearms. That is why Section 6107 specifically prevents any form of confiscation of firearms, accessory or ammunition from occurring solely as a result of a state of emergency.

What should you do?

As it is anticipated that this proclamation of a state of emergency will not be terminated for an extended period of time, I would highly recommend that anyone eligible obtain his/her LTCF.

EDIT 1/11/18: For those interested in the impact of this Proclamation on the Great American Outdoors Show and hunting on state game land, please see this follow up article – Are the Great American Outdoors Show (GAOS) and State Game Land Hunting in Jeopardy as a Result of Governor Wolf’s Proclamation of Emergency?

EDIT 1/12/18: As a result of the Office of Governor issuing a statement that Senator Wagner and I are “flat-out wrong,” I have published a third article on this topic and am requesting that Governor Wolf either apologize to Senator Wagner and myself or debate me on the issues – Governor Wolf’s “Interpretive Jiggery-Pokery” on his Proclamation’s Impact on Firearm Rights in Pennsylvania

EDIT 1/16/18: As a result of Philly.com implying that the Governor’s Office has claimed that a violation of Section 6107 is “a citation,” I have published a fourth article on this issue so that the public is not misinformed – Lose Your Second Amendment Rights if You Violate Section 6107 as a Result of Governor Wolf’s Opioid Proclamation

If you or someone you know has had their right to keep and bear arms infringed as a result of this state of emergency, 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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Major Pennsylvania Firearm Law Cases from 2017

As the year is coming to a close, I thought it important to document some of the monumental court decisions and issues that Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®), a division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., was involved in or obtained in 2017.

  1. Franklin v. Sessions, et al. – in a monumental federal case of first impression, Judge Kim Gibson of the Western District of Pennsylvania ruled that an involuntary commitment under Section 302 of Pennsylvania’s Mental Health and Procedures Act (“MHPA”) is insufficient to trigger a federal firearms and ammunition disability under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(4).
  2. Keyes v. Sessions, et al., – in another federal case of monumental importance, Judge John Jones of the Middle District of Pennsylvania held that it was unconstitutional, under a Second Amendment as-applied challenge, to strip Mr. Keyes of his right to keep and bear arms in perpetuity as a result of a single, isolated involuntary commitment. Additionally, in the beginning of 2017, Mr. Keyes’ co-plaintiff, Mr. Yox, learned that the new Administration declined to appeal his grant of relief and withdrew the protective appeal that had been filed in relation to Judge Jones’ grant of his Second Amendment as-applied challenge.
  3. Commonwealth v. Goslin – in another case of significant importance, the Superior Court, en banc, held that an individual may claim the defense of “other lawful purpose” when possessing a weapon on school property. As a result, Attorney Prince did an extensive article on the impact of this decision.
  4. Commonwealth v. Hicks – Attorney Prince filed an Amici Curiae brief before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on behalf of members of the General Assembly, Firearms Owners Against Crime, Firearms Policy Coalition and Firearms Policy Foundation in relation to whether the mere open or concealed carrying of a firearm constitutes reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.
  5. Firearms Owners Against Crime, et al. v. Lower Merion Township – after a December 2016 ruling by the Commonwealth Court that Lower Merion Township was precluded from regulating possession and discharge of firearms in their parks, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court declined Lower Merion Township’s request for review of the decision.  We also found out that the taxpayer in Lower Merion have paid more than $30,000 in relation to this litigation.
  6. While not a case in and of itself (although related to the settlement of the class action of John Doe, et al. v. City of Philadelphia, et al.), we found out that the City of Philadelphia was generally making decisions on licenses to carry firearms in under 30 days!
  7. We also saw Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman issue a letter regarding firearm and ammunition preemption to all law enforcement agencies in Lancaster County.
  8. We also saw ATF (again) change its position on firearm braces and begin the process of entering into rulemaking regarding bumpstocks.

So what can we expect for next year?

  1. A decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Commonwealth v. Hicks.
  2. ATF to enter into rulemaking regarding bumpstocks.
  3. Hopefully, the enactment of H.R. 38 -Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017.

If you or someone you know has had their right to keep and bear arms infringed, 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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