Tag Archives: regulation

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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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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OSHA Inspector’s Warrant Request DENIED

09/02/2016

One of the most common questions asked about OSHA Inspections is, “Do I have to let them in my business?” My short answer has always been – No you do not, but it is often advisable that you do so.

It is within your rights as a business owner to require that OSHA inspectors present a Warrant to enter your premises. However, history shows that OSHA is almost always granted a warrant. Furthermore, requiring a warrant usually only serves to alienate you from the inspectors and heighten their suspicion that you are hiding something.

A Magistrate Judge from the Georgia’s Northern District has decided that this is not necessarily an acceptable practice.  Magistrate Judge J. Clay Fuller held that OSHA needed to establish “probable cause” before they could obtain an expanded warrant to search a poultry plant.  The case arose when OSHA responded to a worker complaint and injury report at a poultry plant. OSHA has an obligation to respond to injury reports and this obligation is expressed to the extent that if an OSHA inspector is driving by a business and sees an ambulance in the parking lot they are expected to stop and at least briefly investigate the reason for the ambulance. Traditionally however, once an OSHA inspector is on site they will begin an inspection that far exceeds the area and scope of the injury or complaint that brought them there.

What does that mean exactly? An example – Business A reports an employee was injured by a garage door that fell and broke the leg of an employee while shooting a commercial.  OSHA shows up to investigate but rather than just inspect the area where the accident happens they inspect every corner of the facility, questioning employees who were not present or involved in the reported incident.  The OSHA inspector finds that the employer was not at fault for the injury that was reported, but fines the employer $40,000 for violations that are unrelated and which had resulted in no injuries.

The folks at the Mar-Jac Poultry Company objected to exactly this expansive practice.  When OSHA arrived they showed the OSHA inspector where the incident occurred, but declined to allow the OSHA inspector to begin an unrestricted inspection of their facility without a warrant.

OSHA applied for a warrant stating that they had a Special Emphasis Program which instructed them to investigate multiple aspects of Poultry related businesses, many of these aspects are unrelated to the reported injury at the company in question.  Magistrate Judge Fuller has held that merely having a program targeting a group does not create probable cause to come and inspect that organization.  Judge Fuller stated that if OSHA did not have to show probable cause then, “[these inspections could] become tools of harassment.” Judge Fuller acknowledged that the injury which was reported did provide probable cause for OSHA to investigate some aspects of the business which were related to the incident but recommended that a warrant to justify an inspection beyond that point should be denied.

A particularly interesting point is that Judge Fuller stated that a worker complaint was not sufficient justification for an OSHA inspector to receive a warrant to just waltz in and perform a wall to wall and top to bottom inspection. This makes sense as in criminal cases warrants have to be very specifically tailored and generally judges frown on signing warrants for “fishing expeditions.” Yet, OSHA has historically been able to say to a Judge, “Look an employee complained so we need access to inspect every corner of the employer’s facility” and Judges have generally said, “Okay, have at it.”

This decision by Judge Fuller is a major win for Business owners and those concerned with an ever expansive government bureaucracy. However, the case is now before the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Georgia who have the power to overturn Judge Fuller’s decision. We will provide updates as they become available.

If your business has had problems with OSHA or would like to know what you can do to protect yourself from OSHA inspections please contact our office at 888-313-0416.


Jonathan Moore is Prince Law Office’s in-house OSHA Consultant. He served as Manager of Corrective Actions and Director of Corporate Compliance for an Aerospace Manufacturing Company. He now attends law school at the Pennsylvania State University School of Law while working for Prince Law Offices.

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PA Gaming Control Board Rescinds Unlawful Regulation

As many of our viewers are aware, almost a year ago, on April 19, 2014, I submitted a written request to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to invalidate Section 465a.13, as it violated 18 Pa.C.S. § 6109(m.3).  In June, I heard from Chief Counsel of the PA Gaming Control Board that the issue had been forwarded to Attorney General Kane. On August 5, 2014, Attorney General Kane issued a Legal Opinion letter stating:

“…the Board’s regulation at 58 Pa.Code § 465a.13(a) contravenes 18 Pa.C.S. § 6109(m.3)…Section 6109(m.3), on the other hand, prohibits a Commonwealth agency from regulating the possession of a firearm in any manner inconsistent with Title 18. The Board is a Commonwealth agency….Accordingly, the Board’s regulation is inconsistent with the provisions of Title 18 inasmuch it regulates the possession of firearms in a location (licensed casino facility) not contemplated by Title 18.”

Yesterday, April 16, 2015, the Board convened and repealed the firearm regulations in Section 465a.13. You can find a copy of the final approved rule on the Independent Regulatory Review Commission’s website – here.

We are still waiting to hear from DCNR, L&I and State regarding the repeal of their unlawful regulations.

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PA Gaming Control Board Acknowledges That Its Regulation is Unlawful!

As many of our viewers are aware, several months ago, on April 19, 2014, I submitted a written request to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to invalidate Section 465a.13, as it violated 18 Pa.C.S. § 6109(m.3).  In June, I heard from Chief Counsel of the PA Gaming Control Board that the issue had been forwarded to Attorney General Kane. Today, I heard back from Chief Counsel Sherman that the Attorney General issued a Legal Opinion (I don’t yet have a copy) and that the AG determined that

amendments in 2011 to the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act prohibit the PGCB and other Commonwealth agencies from regulating the possession of firearms in a manner inconsistent with that Act.  Accordingly, the Attorney General states that the Board no longer may by Regulation limit the possession of firearms in a licensed casino facility by persons who possess a valid permit to carry a concealed firearm.  Given this result, we are preparing an amendment to Board regulation 465a.13 will be presented to the Board at its September 17, 2014 meeting to address this issue. (emphasis added)

Attorney Sherman then continued on to point out that the

Attorney General’s Opinion is not an evaluation of whether the private owners of a state-licensed casino facility may or may not limit the possession of firearms in the privately-owned casino.  Thus, each licensed casino facility may or may not chose to limit the possession of firearms on its property.  That is a determination which will be left to the discretion of each casino.

So that makes two wins in one day for LTCF holders!

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