It appears that Hazle Township is digging in its heels on its ban in public parks, citing Minich v. Jefferson County (previous appeal here), and arguing that the township can prohibit guns in parks because it’s used by school children.Â These are fairly bogus arguments, but let’s look for a minute at their use of Minich.
Minich was brought against Jefferson County because the county had an ordinance that prohibited firearms in the court house, and subjected entrants to a security checkpoint The plantiffs refused the checkpoint search, and were denied entry. The Commonwealth Court dismissed the preemption claim because state law prohibits firearms in courthouses, and thus the applicable clause in our preemption law applied:
In other words, the County may not enact an ordinance which regulates firearm possession if the ordinance would make the otherwise lawful possession of a firearm unlawful.3 Thus, if the Countyâ€™s ordinance pertains only to the unlawful possession of firearms, i.e., possession â€œprohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth,â€ then section 6120(a) of the Crimes Code does not preempt the Countyâ€™s ordinance.
The problem with Hazle Township’s reasoning is that guns are not prohibited in public parks in Pennsylvania.Â State Parks are off limits by virtue of DCNR regulations, not through state law.Â Hazle Township is on very shaky legal ground claiming preemption does not cover public parks.Â Especially given that the General Assembly has voted, overwhelmingly, for a measure to recind the DCNR’s ability to regulate firearms in State Parks.Â Even if The Commonwealth’s Courts accept that because DCNR claims the power to regulate firearms in state parks, that local governments may also claim that power, it’s an argument very likely to be ended when the Senate decides to take up HB 1845.