Tag Archives: “right to keep and bear arms”

Violating Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act by Denying Sales of Firearms and Ammunition to Those Under 21 Years of Age?

Recently, numerous companies, including Dicks, Walmart, and even Pennsylvania-based Dunkelberger’s Sports Outfitters, started refusing to sell rifles and shotguns to individuals between the ages of 18 and 21, seemingly in violation of Pennsylvania’s Human Relations Act.

Before addressing PA’s Human Relations Act, let’s review Pennsylvania’s constitutional provisions. First and foremost, Article 1, Section 1 – Inherent rights of mankind – provides:

All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing and protecting property and reputation, and of pursuing their own happiness.

Article 1, Section 21 – Right to bear arms – provides:

The right of the citizens to bear arms in defence of themselves and the State shall not be questioned.

More importantly and frequently overlooked, Article 1, Section 25 – Reservation of powers in people – provides:

To 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.

Accordingly, the rights acknowledged by Article 1, Sections 1 through 24, including the right to self defense, the ability to acquire property and the right to bear arms, are inalienable as acknowledged by the Constitution.

In turning to PA’s Human Relations Act, the Findings in Section 952 provide, inter alia,

The practice or policy of discrimination against individuals or groups by reason of their race, color, familial status, religious creed, ancestry, age, sex, national origin, handicap or disability, … is a matter of concern of the Commonwealth. Such discrimination foments domestic strife and unrest, threatens the rights and privileges of the inhabitants of the Commonwealth, and undermines the foundations of a free democratic state.

Section 953 then goes on to provide, inter alia, that:

The opportunity for an individual … to obtain all the accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any public accommodation … without discrimination because of race, color, familial status, religious creed, ancestry, handicap or disability, age, sex, national origin, … is hereby recognized as and declared to be a civil right which shall be enforceable as set forth in this act.

For those wondering what all is included as a public accommodation, it includes, in addition to a plethora of other entities, “retail stores and establishments.

Anyone aggrieved under the PA Human Relations Act can file a complaint for discrimination with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

Hopefully, these retailers will reconsider their age-based policies denying individuals their inalienable rights to bear arms and to defend themselves.

If you or someone you know has been denied your right to keep and bear arms, 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.



Filed under Firearms Law, Pennsylvania Firearms Law

President Trump and Vice President Pence to Lose Second Amendment Rights

Yesterday, President Trump stated that “[i]t takes so long to go to court to get the due process procedures, I like taking the guns early. Take the guns first, go through due process second” seemingly without consideration for what he was proposing or the impact on his and Vice President Pence’s Second Amendment rights.

What am I talking about?

Well, someone needs to be living under a rock to have missed all the unsubstantiated allegations regarding the President’s mental health during his candidacy and presidency. In fact, there is even a book by Brandy X Lee – The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President – in which these putative experts contend that President Trump suffers from varying and differing mental health conditions. More recently, Joy Behar claimed that Vice President Pence was mentally ill, because of his religious convictions in speaking with Jesus.

But what does this have to do with the President’s comment?

Well, he seemingly ignores the fact that absent due process, both his and Vice President Pence’s Second Amendment rights could be stripped, absent even their knowledge or opportunity to be heard, because of someone’s – potentially vindictive and even baseless – views or beliefs. See, that is what due process protects against – or at least is suppose to protect against. While we can argue about the level of due process and whether the courts place appropriate consideration on the evidence before depriving someone of a constitutional right, the right to be heard against allegations is a fundamental tenet of our Founding Constitutional Agreement.

As our viewers know, I recently litigated a case in the United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania, where Judge Kim Gibson found that a Section 302 evaluation under the Pennsylvania Mental Health and Procedures Act was not sufficient to trigger a federal prohibition, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(4), due to the lack of due process provided the individual. There, like what is seemingly being proposed by the President, the Government contended that an individual was stripped of his right to Keep and Bear Arms – an inalienable right that is acknowledged by the Constitution – as a result of a doctor merely signing a form, in the absence of the individual being provided any of the tenets of due process, including having an opportunity to confront those speaking against him/her. More specifically, the individual is not (1) provided an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses nor have a witness testify on his/her behalf; (2) provided an opportunity to challenge evidence nor submit evidence in support of his/her position; (3) provided counsel; or (4) provided a neutral arbiter, since the doctor is paid by the hospital and there are, unfortunately, financial incentives for a hospital to keep an individual for further evaluation.

Could you imagine the outrage if there was a proposal that would permit someone, even the President, to be stripped of his/her First Amendment rights, in the absence of due process, because someone believed that the person suffered from a mental illness, regardless of how baselessness of the claim? Speaking of which, why do we permit a person who has been involuntarily committed to be a reporter? And with all the talk about raising the age to 21 to purchase any firearm, why aren’t we talking about equal application of the law to all constitutional provisions? If its okay to restrict an individual’s constitutional right to Keep and Bear Arms, why aren’t we also restricting his/her First, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment rights, until the person is 21? That’s right, such would be unconstitutional and as Justice Thomas recently stated in his dissent to the denial of certiorari in Jeff Silvester, et al. v. Xavier Becerra, Attorney General of California

it seems, rights that have no basis in the Constitution receive greater protection than the Second Amendment, which is enumerated in the text. Our continued refusal to hear Second Amendment cases only enables this kind of defiance.

Because I still believe that the Second Amendment cannot be “singled out for special—and specially unfavorable—treatment,” I respectfully dissent from the denial of certiorari. (citations omitted)

Given the constitutional issues involved and the likelihood for abuse, Mr. President, I respectfully implore you to reconsider your remarks and thereafter, come out in support of all of our constitutionally acknowledged rights, including opposing any proposal, which would permit any constitutional right to be stripped from an individual in the absence of due process.


Filed under Firearms Law

4th Circuit Issues Devastating Opinion Regarding “Assault Rifles”

Today the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals sitting En Banc issued a devastating opinion regarding “assault rifles” in Kolbe v. Hogan. The Fourth Circuit covers Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.


Kolbe challenged Maryland’s Firearm Safety Act of 2013 (“FSA”), which bans AR-15s and other military-style rifles and shotguns as well as detachable large capacity magazines, by contesting the constitutionality of the law under the Second Amendment, as well as bringing a Fourteenth Amendment Due Process and Equal Protection claim. (Quick note to the readers, the use of the terms “assault rifles”, “military-style rifles and shotguns” and “large capacity magazines” are being used in reference to the Court opinion and not the author’s belief that these firearms and magazines should be referred to as such).

At the District Court level, the judge ruled that the FSA was constitutional. While analyzing the Second Amendment claims, the Court expressed doubt that “assault weapons” and “large capacity magazines” were protected by the Second Amendment. As a result the Court employed an intermediate scrutiny analysis.

As the case trickled up the Court system, the 4th Circuit issued an opinion from a divided three judge panel which found “that the banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are indeed protected by the Second Amendment, and that the FSA substantially burdens the core Second Amendment right to use arms for self-defense in the home.” More importantly, the Court became the first Court in the country to require a strict scrutiny analysis in regard to the Second Amendment claims.

Unfortunately, the Court sitting En Banc had a different idea. It was happy to affirm the District Court’s opinion, “in a large part adopting the Opinion’s cogent reasoning as to why the FSA contravenes neither the Second Amendment nor the Fourteenth.” However, the Court did make an explicit statement that the District Court did not. The Court stated

[w]e conclude — contrary to the now-vacated decision of our prior panel — that the banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are not protected by the Second Amendment. That is, we are convinced that the banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are among those arms that are “like” “M-16 rifles” — “weapons that are most useful in military service” — which the Heller Court singled out as being beyond the Second Amendment’s reach…Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war that the Heller decision explicitly excluded from such coverage.

The Court explicitly adopted that intermediate scrutiny was the correct analysis to utilize. “[I]ntermediate scrutiny is the appropriate standard because the FSA does not severely burden the core protection of the Second Amendment, i.e., the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms for self-defense in the home.”

In its analysis the Court found that “[t]he FSA bans only certain military-style weapons and detachable magazines, leaving citizens free to protect themselves with a plethora of other firearms and ammunition. Those include magazines holding ten or fewer rounds, nonautomatic and some semiautomatic long guns, and — most importantly — handguns.”

Applying the intermediate scrutiny standard the Court found “the FSA survives such review because its prohibitions against assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are — as they must be — ‘reasonably adapted to a substantial governmental interest.’” The Court stated that “Maryland’s interest in the protection of its citizenry and the public safety is not only substantial, but compelling.”

Unfortunately, this means that yet another Court has refused to require a strict scrutiny analysis to a fundamental constitutional right. Perhaps the most troubling aspect is the Fourth Circuit believes that firearms like the AR-15 are not protected by the Second Amendment, opening the door for more restrictive legislation to be put in place and making it more difficult to challenge.


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Filed under Firearms Law, Uncategorized