Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Previous Post
Next Post

From the Firearms Policy Coalition . . .

In another Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) legal victory, Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court ruled on appeal that Philadelphia’s ordinance requiring the reporting of “lost or stolen” firearms violates State law. The opinion in City of Philadelphia v. Armstrong can be found at FPCLaw.org.

Section 6120(a) of the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act (UFA) states that, “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.”

However, the City of Philadelphia enacted and is enforcing its Code Section 10-838a, which states, “No person who is the owner of a firearm that is lost or stolen shall fail to report the loss or theft to an appropriate local law enforcement official within 24 hours after the loss or theft is discovered.”

In yesterday’s decision, the Commonwealth Court held that the City’s ordinance was preempted by State law. The Court’s opinion, authored by Judge Patricia A. McCullough, ruled that Philadelphia “does not make any meaningful argument for a change in the current state of the case law, opting instead to essentially ignore the precedential authority of this Court as if it does not exist…Here, the facts, procedural history, and legal background of this case establish that the City is attempting to enforce a law that it knew, or reasonably should have known, was unenforceable due to our 2008 decision in Clarke, as well as the preceding and succeeding case law from this Court.”

The ruling further notes that “the City’s decision to proceed with prosecution under Section 10-838a, a lost and stolen reporting law, and then incredibly claim that the law is actually a ‘straw purchaser’ law, which, in any event, has also been held to be preempted by this Court…evidences a form of bad faith and harassment on the part of the City.”

“The Commonwealth Court correctly held that the City of Philadelphia’s prosecution of Mr. Armstrong under its Lost and Stolen Ordinance constituted ‘bad faith and harassment,” said Joshua Prince, attorney for Mr. Armstrong. “There could be no dispute that the ordinance was preempted and as a result, directed the trial court to permanently enjoin the City of Philadelphia from enforcement of its ordinance.”

“The City of Philadelphia has repeatedly passed ordinances regulating firearms which have been struck down by the Courts of Pennsylvania,” said Adam Kraut, FPC’s vice president of programs. “In spite of those prior cases, and having had an ordinance like the one at issue found invalid, Philadelphia has elected to waste taxpayer dollars while harassing and bullying Mr. Armstrong, all while likely knowing the cost to defend against such an action would be too much for any single individual. FPC has, and remains, committed to protecting individuals from unlawful statutory schemes.”

FPC is also suing the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania over the city’s unlawful gun control laws. Oral arguments in FOAC, et al. v. City of Pittsburgh, et. al took place in October 2020.

Previous Post
Next Post

20 COMMENTS

    • to my knowledge, Pittsburgh has never tried to enforce any of its illegal statutes…philly, on the other hand always thinks it’s special….

  1. Gun Control zealots sneak around trying to find ways to single people out one by one leading to the eventual taking of all rights.

    Make no mistake about it…Gun Control zealots are the criminals they claim to disdain.

  2. Another successful “pro-gun” court ruling led, advanced, conceived, under-girded, sponsored, informed, inspired, coached, initiated, organized, encouraged, and largely funded by NRA.

    Ammaright?

      • “Who “funded” the original preemption law that’s being relied on here?”

        Coupla thoughts on that:
        – was NRA the sole, or principal force in assembling the votes for the preemption law?

        – does it matter who “funded” the original preemption law, if they aren’t the major force defending it?

        – did NRA provide all, or the huge majority, of funding for the organizations that actually did the legal work defending “preemption”? (there is a yuge difference between being a fundraiser, and getting grimy in the fighting trenches.)

        – in the political/legislative arena, does NRA lobby/fight to win, or lobby/fight to not lose?

        I recognize the importance of being the power behind the curtain (a al Soros), but NRA is a financial pimple compared to Soros.

        I understand the old west principle of “ride for the brand”, but when the brand becomes “The Wild Bunch”, do you keep riding with them?

  3. Another toothless “victory” with zero disincentive for another infringement. Felony consequences for us when we lose; zero consequences for them, and often big lawyer bills for us, when they lose.

    • “Another toothless “victory” with zero disincentive for another infringement. ”

      That might not be quite the case; might not.

      No government agent can legally act outside their delegated authority. In this case, the city government has been accused, by a judge, of ignoring a court order (in addition to the fact that Philly created an illegal law; i.e. not legal action). It may be possible for the defendant to individually sue anyone in Philly government who was involved in creating and/or effectuating the illegal law. A sweet element in a case of alleging violating the “law of agency”, it could turn out that the city of Philly cannot provide legal service to those being sued.

      And there is the whole “under color of law” federal statute.

      • I haven’t lived in PA for a long time, and don’t know if the law has any civil-suit provisions; but that’s beside the point. If you or I break the law and violate the rights of another person, there are criminal penalties; if someone sworn and paid to uphold the law uses his office to violate the rights of millions, there is nothing of the sort.

        People tout the “color of law” statute without considering the caveats that make it useless in most of these situations.

        • Not sure any state law can protect agents of government from legal action based on criminal actions, or intentional violation of civil rights. Or even defying a court order.

          For instance, if you are not a formal suspect, and police simply come to your house and arrest you simply as a means of delivering a mandatory arrest quota, said police (and the department) would be operating outside their authority. There is no jurisprudence, nor history of law, that authorizes police to arrest you for simply existing.

          Acting as an official while lacking authority for the action is not protected behavior of an agent acting properly within the agent’s delegated legal authority.

          Another example is that you hire an armored car service to pick up and deliver cash to/from your business. The crew of the armored car rob the bank, complete the delivery to your business, and keep the extra money for themselves. That crew cannot claim that when robbed the bank, they were acting as your legal delivery agent, since the contract you signed did not/could not authorize the armored car company to commit crimes as your agent.

          The “under color of law” theory is a version of the “law of agency”.

        • It’s not about a “law [that] can protect agents of government from legal action based on criminal actions, or intentional violation of civil rights. Or even defying a court order.” There is nothing to protect them from, because this [preemption] law, mentioned in the article, has no teeth.

          If I use force, subterfuge, manual dexterity, computer hacking, or any other means to deprive you of your legally owned gun, I will be arrested, convicted, and punished for that crime. If I am proven to have done so to ten different people, I will be punished ten times over. If however I run for office, and use the authority conferred on me (for the purpose of protecting Philadelphians’ rights) to deprive a hundred thousand Philadelphians of guns they bought legally, this is an even more blatant violation of the law and their rights – but with zero consequences.

          The oft-ignored provision of the “color of law” statute is “on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race”. An official can be fined or imprisoned for treating a foreigner differently from an American, or for violating the rights of a minority citizen, but only “by reason of his color, or race” (i.e. an American who happens to be black does not have standing to sue or prosecute because a gun law happens to deprive him (along with a bunch of white guys) of rights; only for a law that targets him specifically because he’s black).

  4. More than 140 car jackings/attempted car jackings in 2022 in Philly…and we are only mid-Feb.

    This is the same city council that claims bullet-proof glass between the store clerk and the customers is racist.

    Another DemoCommie city in a race to the bottom.

  5. “opting instead to essentially ignore the precedential authority of this Court as if it does not exist…”

    And it will continue to do so as long as it faces no real penalties.

    Start throwing city council members in jail for a week at a time for each illegal law they make and things would change.

  6. they need to remove all immunity from lawsuits from these DAs and big city mayors.. especially if they prosecute someone for unconstitutional gun laws or executive actions..laws should be required to go through court scrutiny before they are signed into law..courts need to become proactive in function instead of reactive ..no law should ever be ratified until it passes all courts scrutiny..court battles cost too much..

    • “they need to remove all immunity from lawsuits from these DAs and big city mayors.”

      Who would those “they” be?

      Like your idea of stuffing the courts with legislation pre-review, but who would those “they” who would legislate that procedure?

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here