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Almost a Test Case

Currently the law in Pennsylvania about guns in primary and secondary schools is a grey area. Having firearms in schools is generally prohibited, except with an exception for guns possessed for lawful purposes. Given Heller, self-defense is a lawful purposes, perhaps the most lawful purpose, for possessing a firearm.

But just because that’s what you or I think doesn’t mean that’s how prosecutors or judges are going to see it. Looks like a School Board member almost got busted for having a gun in a school, but the Bucks County District Attorney’s office are going to decline charges. The grey area will live. I’d like to see this issue decided one way or another, though I certainly wouldn’t volunteer to be that case, and hope no one else will either. Two things likely helped this guy. One is that he’s a public official, and while it’s wrong, public officials tend to not want to prosecute other public officials. Two if you’re a DA going to go forward with a precedent setting case, you’d likely want the circumstances to be as horrible as possible, like some dipshit who carried in a school and left it in a bathroom (and wasn’t a cop), or who had a negligent discharge (and wasn’t a cop) What you have with our school statute is a way a sympathetic judge or jury could screw your chance of getting a conviction, and I don’t think prosecutors usually like taking that kind of chance.

6 Responses to “Almost a Test Case”

  1. John Doe says:

    Chris Anfuso was charged with violating ยง912 in Montgomery County. He was acquitted.

    http://paopencarry.org/Anfuso/Comm_vs_Anfuso_9350-09.pdf

    Not precedent setting, but still a victory.

  2. Patrick H says:

    That would have been a decent test because he has a LTCF, and apparently that’s what he was doing. And that’s a key reason why they decided not to press charges, other than being the summer. And even then they said it might not matter. Still, I wouldn’t want to be the test case.

    I would like more information on what happened: Was he carrying concealed? How did they find out about the gun? Who found out? What happened when they found out?

  3. Zermoid says:

    I have been told by a PA State cop that the courts take a LTCF as a “Lawful Reason” to carry a firearm in schools. No clue about specific cases but by his answer I assume there have been cases.

    I’ve carried my 44 Mag in an open hip holster into my kid’s school during deer season and carry my concealed 1911 all the time. They did ask me not to wear the 44 into the school again though.
    ;-)

  4. asdf says:

    There really ought to be some way to get a solud confirmation either way without someone having to go through the ringer. Like we should be able to pose a hypothetical scenario to the PA AG, receive a definitive answer, and all prosecutors across the state should be legally restrained by that answer.

    • Patrick H says:

      The problem is the way the law is written. Its illegal, so cops can arrest you with impunity. However, at your trial, you can present your evidence that you have a LTCF, and the courts can dismiss the charge because of that. But you’ll still have to go through the ringer to get out.

      Its the same thing that Sebastian was posting about Florida CCW law vs PA’s.

    • Alpheus says:

      This is something I wish were true for laws in general. It’s always bothered me that you had to risk jail time to try to prove that a law was unconsitutional. (One prominent case that comes to mind, was the person who tested the anti-polygamy law for Latter-day Saints. The courts ruled it Constitutional, so the man who was the test case got to serve two years in prison for practicing polygamy. Even though he knew that was a possible outcome going in, it seems rotten to have to do that, when Latter-day Saints only wanted to know whether or not the law infringed on religious liberty!)

      Indeed, I would have expected that just *wanting* to violate a law, ought to give you standing.

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