It seems that a lawsuit and some publicity still has the power to concentrate the bureaucratic mind. At least they do in the case of Montgomery County Sheriff Sean Kilkenny who recently adopted an unconstitutionally wide interpretation of Pennsylvania’s gun control laws to ensure that firearms dealers are in compliance with all state and federal laws.
Sheriff Kilkenny, who doesn’t seem to have a good working knowledge of the Fourth Amendment, decided that a new reading of state statutes gives him the right to search all 92 federally licensed gun dealers in his county to ensure they’re following the applicable laws. Without a warrant.
That expansive view of his powers prompted a lawsuit from the Second Amendment Foundation. Less than a week later. The sheriff has agreed to halt all such warrantless searches under a court order until the lawsuit is resolved.
Here’s SAF’s announcement of the agreement . . .
One week after the Second Amendment Foundation challenged Pennsylvania’s promulgated firearms regulation and its enforcement by the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) and Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, the sheriff has agreed to a court ordered stay enforcement of his policy of inspecting gun shops without a warrant.
The action is known as Schmidt, et al. v. Paris, et al. Joining SAF are Shot Tec, LLC and a private citizen, Grant Schmidt. They are represented by attorneys Joshua Prince and Dillon Harris, Civil Rights Defense Firm, of Bechtelsville, Pa. Defendants are Col. Christopher Paris, commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) and Montgomery County Sheriff Sean Kilkenny, in their official capacities. The action was filed in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.
In a stipulation of the parties filed Friday, Montgomery County Sheriff Sean Kilkenny will stay enforcement of the search policy, but noted he “intends to respond in opposition to the Petition for Review, and this Stipulation shall not be interpreted as a waiver or limitation on the Sheriff’s ability to oppose and raise his defenses to the substance of the Petition.” Commissioner Paris has no objection.
“We’re delighted that Sheriff Kilkenny has agreed to pull back from enforcing his policy of conducting warrantless searches of licensees,” said SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut. “Respect for constitutional rights is paramount. The Sheriff’s policy raised constitutional concerns that we had outlined in our petition. While this case may take a while to litigate, during the process, licensees won’t need to worry about the Sheriff’s department violating their constitutional rights through the enforcement of the Sheriff’s policy.”
“It is important that this challenge make its way through the court in a timely fashion,” added SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, “but in the process, no actions should be taken which remotely suggest this policy is okay and will ultimately prevail. A warrantless search violates the Fourth Amendment, and that is never okay.”