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Local Gun Bans Still Illegal

There’s good news for Erie, PA gun owners this morning with the Commonwealth Court finding that an Erie trial court was in the wrong for not issuing an injunction against the city when the city’s solicitor threatened enforcement of their (illegal) ban on guns in city parks against gun owners looking to have a rally.

5 Responses to “Local Gun Bans Still Illegal”

  1. Patrick H says:

    Ah I see you beat me too it. Not this footnote though:

    Not raised by the City is Section 3710 of the Third Class City Code, Act of June 23, 1931, P.L. 932, as amended, 53 P.S. §38710, which provides, in pertinent part, that the City “shall at all times be invested with the power and authority to adopt suitable rules and regulations concerning the use and occupation of [its] parks and playgrounds by the public generally….” It could be argued that the City may be empowered under that grant of power from the State to regulate the possession of firearms in its parks pursuant to its proprietary power to control conduct that takes place on its property rather than through an ordinance of general application enacted pursuant to its general police powers. Similarly, Section 11.215 of the regulations of the Commonwealth’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, 17 Pa. Code §11.215, generally prohibits “[p]ossessing an uncased device, or uncasing a device, including a firearm, … that is capable of discharging or propelling a projectile…” in state parks, subject to a number of enumerated exceptions.

    I could see this applying in buildings, but in public parks? The state EXPLICITLY said no municipality could regulate guns. I don’t see how this would apply, though it worries me that they brought it up.

  2. Jeff O says:

    Finally some good news on this case! Reading through the decision, it appears not to be moderate, but strongly worded in favor of the Erie 8 on at least three points.

    To those who know law better than I, does the wording of this decision open up a personal lawsuit (USC sec. 1983) against the solicitor and policemen since they had been forwarned against enforcing an illegal law?

    FInally, I appreciate the fact there were three dissenters from the part two decision as well!

    • Andy B. says:

      “does the wording of this decision open up a personal lawsuit (USC sec. 1983) against the solicitor and policemen. . .?”

      I can’t answer that, personally, but unless it does and someone actually launches a successful lawsuit this outcome will probably be meaningless.

      I have belabored these pages before with my story of how a similar court case more than 50 years ago led to me be arrested and convicted under the very kind of law that the State Supreme Court had just ruled a municipality “couldn’t” have — but mine did. I of course won on appeal — more than $500 (1964 dollars) to challenge a $35 fine, “on principle” — but when I asked my attorney about chances of recovering expenses, he had a good laugh. More importantly, most of the local municipalities went on enacting and enforcing (haphazardly) similar laws. A friend had the identical case I’d had, twenty years later, and his case was one that went all the way to the State Supreme Court again.

      Briefly and simply, there are almost never any teeth in laws that say what municipalities “can’t” do. There is no down side for them or their minions doing what they “can’t” do. Until there is — and I’m not holding my breath waiting — these decisions are meaningless window-dressing to maintain our belief in Law and the Legislative Process. Not until you have to pay the bill to have the law enforced, and then watch it be ignored again, do you realize what a charade this all is.

  3. Hank says:

    Still waiting for a State Supreme Court with the balls to declare the city of Philly in contempt and fine them $1 million a day for violating the State Constitution for harassing people with concealed carry licenses issued in other counties.

    • Andy B. says:

      My point above is, that it ain’t gonna happen. This is a political “contest” the same way those Saturday morning TV wrestling matches were “contests.” The oligarchy may still have to put on shows for us yokels, but the first and last rule is that none of them can really get hurt. Where balls are needed, are for more of us to start 1) recognizing that and 2) saying it.

      I mean, not to repeat my story above, but, how much more than fifty years does the same question have to go to the courts, without anything ever changing in practical terms? Don’t we look a little silly for not noticing that nothing has changed in fifty years?

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