MONUMENTAL Selection – Commonwealth Court OVERRULES Prior Selection Relating to Standing to Bring a Challenge to an Unlawful Firearm Ordinance


In a monumental selection issued this morning and secured by Chief Counsel Joshua Prince of Firearms Business Consulting Group, the Commonwealth Court, en banc, overruled its prior precedent and held that it was “untenable” to call for a plaintiff to declare in a complaint that he/she has violated or been prosecuted for an enacted ordinance and “must be overruled.” The selection in Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC), et al. v. City of Harrisburg, et al., 1438 C.D. 2019 (September 12, 2019), particularly overrules the dangerous case law established in NRA v. City of Pittsburgh, 999 A.2d 1256 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2010), appeal denied, 23 A.3d 543 (Pa. 2011), exactly where the Commonwealth Court essential plaintiffs bringing a challenge to an illegal ordinance prohibited by Short article 1 Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution and 18 Pa.C.S. § 6120 to “allege in their verified pleadings that they have basically violated the challenged ordinances, that they intend to violate the challenged ordinances, or that they have been prosecuted for violating the challenged ordinances.”

In so holding, the Court declared

Our precedent in NRA/Pittsburgh and NRA/Philadelphia is untenable and have to be overruled simply because it affords higher access to the courts to challenge the facial constitutionality of ordinances to scofflaws than to law-abiding citizens. It tends to make small sense to wait for Appellants to break the law, which we presume they do not want to do, ahead of they can challenge it. It also tends to make small sense to force law-abiding citizens to rely on law breakers to advocate their interests.

Thereafter, the Court concluded that FOAC, et al.,

have standing to challenge the legality of the Discharge Ordinance, the Lost/Stolen Ordinance, and the Park Ordinance. We also conclude that FOAC has associational standing to challenge the legality of the Minors Ordinance.

Regrettably, and somewhat perplexing, the Court held that FOAC, et al., did not “have standing, below classic standing principles or as taxpayers, to challenge the legality of the State of Emergency Ordinance” on the other hand, discovered Judge Patricia McCullough, issued a concurring/dissenting opinion, in which she concurred with the Court’s conclusion that FOAC, et al. had standing to challenge the discharge, parks, lost and stolen and minors ordinances, but dissenting in relation to the Court’s discovering that FOAC, et al., lacked standing to challenge the state of emergency ordinance.

Particularly, in relation to the state of emergency ordinance, Judge McCullough declares

Appellants are presented with an equally untenable decision with regards to this Ordinance as the Majority acknowledges Appellants are faced with in regards to the other Ordinances: “They can curb their conduct to conform to the [O]rdinance[‘s] mandates or they can willfully violate the law and face criminal prosecution.” Majority Op. at 22. I disagree that Appellants ought to be forced to wait till yet another state of emergency is declared till they are deemed to have standing to challenge the State of Emergency Ordinance, specifically exactly where they allege that they have been topic to its parameters for the duration of the pendency of this quite suit.

Possibly most refreshing is Judge McCulough statement on the effect of the state of emergency provision on the inherent, inalienable correct to self-defense:

Lastly, but not insignificantly, as the Supreme Court of the United States observed in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), that what ever the Second Amendment may well shield additional broadly, “it certainly elevates above all other interests the correct of law-abiding, accountable citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and house.” Id. at 635 (emphasis added).three “Self-defense is a simple correct, recognized by lots of legal systems from ancient instances to the present day, and . . . person self-defense is ‘the central component’ of the Second Amendment correct.” McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. 742, 767-68 (2010) (quoting Heller, 554 U.S. at 599). In McDonald, the Court cautioned against treating the Second Amendment as a “second-class correct, topic to an totally various physique of guidelines than the other Bill of Rights guarantees.” 561 U.S. at 780. “[T]he text of the Amendment, as interpreted by Heller and McDonald, points toward the conclusion that ‘bear’ implies a correct to carry firearms publicly for self-defense.” Young v. Hawaii, 896 F .3d 1044, 105. (9th Cir. 2018). “Once identified as an person correct focused on self-defense, the correct to bear arms have to assure some correct to self-defense in public” and the courts “are happy that the Second Amendment. encompasses a correct to carry a firearm openly in public for self-defense.” Id. at 1068 Wrenn v. District of Columbia, 864 F.3d 650, 661 (D.C. Cir. 2017) Moore v. Madigan, 702 F.3d 933, 936-37 (7th Cir. 2012).

As alleged in the Petition for Critique, self-defense is most undoubtedly implicated in the occasion of a declaration of a state of emergency by the Mayor of Harrisburg. Id. at 599 (emphasis added). According to City Defendants, in order for the Mayor to declare a state of emergency, there have to be “‘violence or a flagrant and substantial defiance of or resistance to a lawful workout of public authority’ which] creates ‘clear and present danger of a riot, civil disorder or other basic public disorder, widespread disobedience of the law and substantial injury to persons or home …. “‘ (City Defendants’ Br. at 11) (quoting Code, §3-355). As Heller created clear, it is precisely for the duration of such instances that the protections afforded by the Second Amendment are the most important. To call for Appellants to wait till yet another state of emergency happens to grant standing, exactly where they allege to have currently been impacted by the Ordinance, is untenable. For these causes, I would grant standing to Appellants to also challenge section three-335.two of the Code.

If you are in a position to be in a position to assistance this matter, FOAC would significantly appreciate donations, which can be created on the internet by way of the Firm’s escrow account right here – Merely spot “FOAC Harrisburg Preemption Litigation” in the reference box.

If you or a person you know has been the victim of an unlawful municipal firearm or ammunition regulation or ordinance, speak to FICG now to go over your solutions.


Firearms Business 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 post.

Published by Joshua Prince, Esq.

With our 2nd Amendment rights getting attacked at each the Federal and State level, and the ATF (Burea of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) attempting to close down FFLs (Federal Firearms Licensees) for minor infractions though producing FFLs the scapegoat when the ATF’s records are inaccurate, I want to take this chance to introduce myself. I am 1 of only a handful of attorneys across the US that practices in the niche region of law identified as firearms law. I decided to concentrate my legal practice on firearms law not only simply because I am a shooter and firearms enthusiast, but also to make certain that our inalienable Correct to Retain and Bear Arms is never ever encroached upon.

I deal with instances at the Federal and State level for each FFLs and people. At the federal and state levels for people, I actively defend the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution and Section 21 of the PA Constitution, as properly as, aid people with:

– License to Carry Firearms Denials
– Challenges to Erroneous PICS Denials
– Relief from Firearms Disabilities
– Estate Organizing Tips
– Gun/NFA Trusts and
– 42 USC 1983 Actions for Deprivation of Civil Rights

At each the state and federal levels, I represent FFLs and SOTs all through Pennsylvania and the US with regards to:

– ATF Compliance Inspections
– Warning Letters and Hearings
– FFL Revocations
– Corporate Structure Tips
– Indoor/Outside Variety Implementation and
– Forfeiture Proceedings

In following my enjoy for firearms and firearms law, I have taught many Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminars on Firearms in Estates and Trusts and Firearms Law 101 for many Bar Associations, which includes Berks, Cumberland, and Dauphin Counties. I also planned and taught many Firearms in Estates CLE classes for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute (PBI).

Whilst at Widener Law College, I was a member of the Widener Law Journal. I wrote an post on the Inaccuracy of the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR). I also had an post published on Charge Disputes in Workers Compensation instances in the Widener Law Journal, Volume 18, No. two.

You can typically discover me posting on many world wide web forums, which includes Subguns, Uzitalk, AR15, and PAFOA. I also hold PA Firearms Law classes for regional ranges to inform the public on the firearm laws of the Commonwealth.

Following in my father’s footsteps, I am also a Board member for the Pottstown Police Athletic League (PAL).
View all posts by Joshua Prince, Esq.


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