What I presented to my borough a while back, while OCing:
Dear [Borough] President H****,
At Tuesday night’s council meeting the question was asked by B**** if it was legal to carry a loaded firearm at a council meeting. I was pleased to hear Councilwoman L****’s response that it was indeed legal. I was not, however, pleased to hear her further respond that a “No Guns” sign would make it illegal. When I pointed out that such a sign would be illegal, she stated that she knew the law.
Does her statement infer that such a sign might possibly be posted at some time in the future? I sincerely hope not. My desire here is to stave off any well-intentioned attempt by any council member to infringe on or impede the rights of the citizens by pointing out state law and case law on the subject.
- State Law: Section 6120 of Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act states that no municipality may in any manner regulate the lawful possession of firearms when carried for purposes not prohibited by law. Should someone on borough council decide to put up a “No Guns” sign, such an action would indeed constitute “regulating” the lawful possession (which includes carrying) of firearms. State law clearly prohibits a borough council from doing such.
The carrying of a firearm at a Borough Council Meeting, or in a “government” building (whatever that is) is legal throughout the Commonwealth, with relatively few exceptions. As is public knowledge, I routinely open carried my 9mm pistol at council meetings while serving as Borough Council President. There was not one complaint or question about my legal carry of such for self defense purposes, either by fellow council members (who were all personally informed of the fact, and the reasons thereof) or by citizens attending the meetings (who would have been hard-pressed not to notice the handgun and holster on my right hip when I stood for the Pledge of Allegiance – including B****).
- Case Law: In Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League v. City of Pittsburgh (Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas), Minich v. Jefferson County (Pennsylvania Court of Appeals) and Ortiz v. Commonwealth (Pennsylvania Supreme Court), the courts all recognized that any attempt of regulating the owning or carrying of firearms was a matter for the State Legislature – any attempt at local regulation was preempted by State Law.
Should someone on council decide to do something foolish, such as the putting up of a “No Guns” sign, please advise them that a violation of the Pennsylvania’s Preemption statute is a first degree misdemeanor under Title 18, Pa. C.S. §6119 and is recognized as having the same level of legal severity as “involuntary manslaughter” (Title 18, Pa. C.S. §2504). Additionally, when the offense occurs, there is also the risk of criminal conspiracy charges against each individual directly involved because of the fact that this is a long-settled matter of case law. And all of this is before any civil action occurs.
Additionally, any borough official or police officer attempting to enforce such an illegal sign would be in violation of Pennsylvania's Official Oppression statute (Title 18, Pa. C.S. §5301). The Official Oppression statute establishes that anyone who “denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power or immunity” can be found guilty of this offense. A conviction under this section is a second degree misdemeanor, which is sufficient to classify that person as “prohibited,” and bar them from owning, possessing or carrying firearms for life.
The Borough of Dickson City and the City of Allentown are currently involved in Federal lawsuits revolving around various civil rights issues (all related to the lawful carry of firearms for self defense). The City of Pittsburgh and the Borough of West Mifflin are dangerously close to litigation as well. The Borough of Cherry Tree does not need to be added to this list.
Government bodies, both small and large, throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are beginning to recognize that the lawful possession and carrying of firearms, including into council meetings, is not something to get upset over. Pennsylvania’s firearms owners, through organizations such as Pennsylvania Open Carry and the Pennsylvania Firearms Owner’s Association, are educated, articulate, and are willing to stand up against such government bodies when it's necessary to remind them that we know our rights.
It is my hope that his letter will be accepted as of an educational nature, and not confrontational. My attendance at borough council meetings, even while wearing a firearm for personal protection, is not intended to be confrontational. However, should a council member decide that my attendance, armed, be impeded in any manner, you have now been appraised of State Law and this letter serves as express actual notice of such.