As you may be aware, Lancaster county recently considered enacting a ban on firearms in it's parks. This proposal was met with great resistance, and after also confirming that such regulation is reserved to the legislature and specifically barred for municipalities, the proposal was abandoned.
I've recently learned that the York County Parks already have a similar (illegal) regulation in place. I became aware of it after a fellow PAFOA (Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association) member, who also holds a PA License to Carry Firearms, inquired about signs which stipulated "No fireworks, explosive devices, or weapons unless authorized
". The Parks Director, Tom Brant, responded as follows:
"Thanks for your inquiry about weapons within Park properties, including the Rail Trail. Basically, no weapons mean no weapons either concealed or non-concealed (except in approved hunting areas with a Park Hunting Permit). Therefore, Park rules prohibit concealed weapons. If you should need additional information, please contact the Parks' Chief Ranger, Gerald Ford, at 717-840-7229.
Thank You.......Tom Brant, Parks Director (cc: Chief Ford)"
The inquiring party then called Chief Ranger Ford, as suggested, and came away with the following:
"He assured me that yes... the rules is no weapons of any kind, but that it was not law
He compared it to K Mart having a no firearms sign posted or a homeowner asking you not to bring a firearm into his or her home.
He said if a ranger saw a weapon then he would most likely tell me to leave the park.
He also noted that if no one saw a weapon that there would be no reason for anyone to ask anyone to leave."
Under state law, carrying a firearm openly while on foot is legal without a License to Carry Firearms. The only time a License to Carry Firearms is needed to "open carry" is in a city of the first class. Philadelphia is the only such city in PA. Further, the PA Supreme Court has ruled that the visible presence of a firearm, absent any reasonable articulable suspicion of a crime, it not sufficient grounds to even stop the party carrying the firearm and ask for identification (Commonwealth v. Hawkins, 1996).
Of course, anyone who does possess a License to Carry Firearms is permitted to have the firearm concealed on their person. The Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act (Title 18 PA Crimes Code) states in §6120 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.
" This means that since both open carry of a firearm and concealed carry of a firearm by licensed persons is legal under state law, York County has no authority to limit such activity. Any such rule, ordinance, etc., is a violation of Title 18, and as such, is null and unenforceable.
Park officials and York county commissioners should take a lesson from Lancaster county and take measures to remedy these illegal regulations as soon as possible.
1508 Guilford Station Rd
Chambersburg, PA 17202
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