Tag Archives: preemption

Firearm Preemption Passes Senate With Veto-Proof Vote

Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Senate passed Senate Bill 5 with a vote of 34 to 16, which is a 2/3rds majority veto-proof vote; however, the vote could have been even stronger if three republicans – Senators Greenleaf, Killion and McGarrigle – had not voted against it. 

At the last minute, there were five amendments proposed to Senate Bill 5 of which only one passed. That one provides that the Attorney General shall provide, within 30 days of enactment, notice of the new law to every municipality. Furthermore, the sections of Senate Bill 5 that provide for preemption and enforcement would not be effective for 60 days. What appears lost in relation to this amendment is the fact that firearm preemption has existed since 1979 and it has been a misdemeanor of the 1st degree. Furthermore, there appears to be some thought that unlike us mere peasants, who do not receive personal notification of new laws that are enacted, that municipalities are of a privileged class that deserve personal notification of the fact that their existing ordinances and regulations are in violation of the law.

While Senate Bill 5 is not perfect for other additional issues that I flagged for those capable of resolving them, it is definitely a step in the right direction.

Senate Bill 5 now moves to the House of Representatives for a vote.

There are three things that must be done:

  1. If you are a constituent of Senator Boscola, please contact her and let her know that you appreciate her vote in favor of holding municipalities accountable.
  2. If you are a constituent of Senators Senators Greenleaf, Killion or McGarrigle, please let them know that their vote against holding municipalities accountable will have consequences in their next election.
  3. Please contact your House Representative member and ask them to vote in favor of SB 5.

Together, we can ensure that municipalities stop violating the law and are held accountable.

If your rights have been violated by an illegal firearm ordinance or regulation, 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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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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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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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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Allentown RTKL Response to Illegal Firearm Regulation Proposals

As many of our viewers are aware, I frequently submit Right to Know Law (RTKL) requests to municipalities in relation to firearms law matters. After the City of Allentown noticed its intent to propose and adopt new firearm ordinances, in violation of 18 Pa.C.S. § 6120, I filed a RTKL Request seeking information relative to the proposals, including communications related thereto.

Specifically, I requested:

Any letter, email, fax or written communication from any person in the Lehigh County District Attorney’s Office or any person from the Office for Solicitor for the City of Allentown relating to any existing or proposed ordinance or regulation relating to firearms or ammunition from January 1, 2008 through the present.  Reporter Emily Opilo recently published an article stating that letters received from District Attorney Martin and Solicitor Wild relating to a proposed ordinance regulating firearms and ammunition were discussed at a meeting on August 17, 2016 – http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-allentown-lost-gun-law-committee-20160817-story.html

Today, I received a response from the City approving in part and denying in part my request. In addition to the cover letter, they produced 52 pages of records. While many of the pages are copies of cases, pages 1-2, 45-50 and 51-52 are letters from Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin informing the City, the City Council members and Mayor Ed Pawlowski that any such regulation is unlawful and unconstitutional. While it is extremely refreshing to see a District Attorney actively involved in a firearm and ammunition preemption issue, its unfortunate that no mention was made of the criminality of violating Section 6120, as such would be a misdemeanor of the first degree, pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 6119, as well as constituting official oppression. Maybe, District Attorney Martin was saving the best for last, in case they elected to move forward with an illegal and unconstitutional regulation.

I, personally, would like to thank and commend District Attorney Martin for immediately and preemptively addressing this issue. Come election time, please always remember that District Attorney Martin is a staunch defender of Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.

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Another Amici Curiae Brief Filed Against the City of Harrisburg!

Today, another Amici Curiae brief was submitted in the matter of City of Harrisburg, et al., v. U.S. Law Shield of Pennsylvania, LLC, et al., 449 C.D. 2015 by the Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League, American Gun Owners Alliance, Firearm Owners Against Crime, Gun Owners of America/Gun Owners Foundation, Lehigh Valley Tea Party, Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, Pennsylvanians For Self Protection, Pennsylvania State Fish & Game Protective Association, and Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania.

Attorney Jim Smith of the Smith Law Group, LLC filed the brief on behalf of the Amici. You can obtain a copy here.

The Amici, in addition to incorporating the arguments of the Amici Curiae Members of the General Assembly, also raise arguments relating to 1. field preemption for discharge; 2. a violation of 18 Pa.C.S. 6120 being a criminal act, which constitutes official oppression; and 3. that the City should be barred under the Unclean Hands doctrine.

I would like to thank those organizations and Attorney James Smith for standing strong and in steadfast devotion to the protection of Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution and the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution with the Amici Curiae Members of the General Assembly. Together, we will ensure that the Right to Keep and Bear Arms will not be infringed and that the City of Harrisburg will be held accountable for its unlawful and illegal actions.

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Lower Merion Township’s Preliminary Objections in Relation to its Unlawful Firearm Ordinance are DENIED

Today, the Honorable Steven Tolliver of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas issued a decision and order denying Lower Merion Township’s Preliminary Objections requesting that the complaint filed by Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC) and other plaintiffs be dismissed.

In so ruling, Judge Tolliver not only found that the individual plaintiffs sufficiently averred standing to challenge Lower Merion Township’s Ordinance 109-16 (regulating firearms in township parks) but also found that FOAC had established standing on behalf of its members. Judge Tolliver also found that Plaintiffs had sufficiently averred a right to relief.

Lower Merion Township now has 20 days to file an Answer to the Complaint and the action will proceed thereafter. Also, a hearing on Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Preliminary Injunction is scheduled for August 24th.

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