In Pennsylvania, there have traditionally been a lot of extralegal requirements for Licenses to Carry Firearms (LTCF) implemented by county Sheriffs, with the City of Philadelphia being the most notorious of the offender. The rest of the ring counties were often pretty non compliant as well. Bucks County had a number of extralegal requirements. I want to say there was a psychological evaluation (or something pretty draconian like that) imposed at one point (this is before I lived here), until a local activist challenged the requirement. Up until pretty recently, the county was overcharging for LTCFs. Bucks County is now following the law. Delaware County used to illegally call references, including employers, until it was pointed out to them that disclosing information about an LTCF application crime, and my understanding is that they no longer do this.Â Montgomery County has continued with extralegal requirement to get local police sign-off, but now it seems that may be at an end too.
We’re slowly getting there.
10 thoughts on “Cleaning Up Illegal LTCF Requirements”
The Montco announcement is AWESOME and directly affects my father in law. Unfortunately, last year he went ahead and complied with the local LEO to get his LTCF even though the requirement was unlawful. But I’m very glad to see this stuff getting flushed in the collar counties. I had heard rumblings about the terrible Delco requirements at my Utah CCW class in Sharon Hill, too.
It also shows that we are able to be successful in numbers at the local government level if we commit to getting things done.
How does Allegheny County Sherriffâ€™s requirements jive with the rest of the state? While the $20/5yr fee is lower than what I paid in VA, and 40min turnaround time much quicker, I never understood the meaning of having to identify my race or â€œReason to Carryâ€, both of which are actually displayed on the LTCF. I will say our Sherriff, despite being a Dem, seems to be pretty reasonable in understanding the 2A.
What about Columbia County, where they make YOU tell your references to call THEM?
I think they believe that gets around the law, but I think they’re incorrect. The whole reference requirement should go away. It’s not useful at all.
Really, who is going to put down people who dislike you as references?
As I understand it the PSP is charged with the form of the application for a LTCF. It would seem the only way to get rid of the Ref. requirement is for the Governor to tell the PSP to remove it. I don’t see that happening under our present governor.
Presumably PSP could do it on their own; A letter written to PSP could prompt them to seek guidance from the AG, which in turn may actually agree that the request for character references invites local officials to violate the law, and should therefore be removed.
Stranger things have happened.
You are correct, the state police are in charge per our statutes (below), but the legislator writes the rules and directs the PSP what to do, including the character clause (second cite).
PA C.S. 18 – 6109(c):
“Form of application and content.–The application for a license to carry a firearm shall be uniform throughout this Commonwealth and shall be on a form prescribed by the Pennsylvania State Police. The form may contain provisions, not exceeding one page, to assure compliance with this section. Issuing authorities shall use only the application form prescribed by the Pennsylvania State Police. One of the following reasons for obtaining a firearm license shall be set forth in the application: self-defense, employment, hunting and fishing, target shooting, gun collecting or another proper reason.”
6109 (d) Sheriff to conduct investigation.–The sheriff to whom the application is made shall:
(3) investigate whether the applicant’s character and reputation are such that the applicant will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety;
What’s funny is when filling out my application I checked off every reason to carry with the exception of employment, but self-defense was the one they chose to actually put on the LTCF.
“I want to say there was a psychological evaluation (or something pretty draconian like that) imposed at one point (this is before I lived here), until a local activist challenged the requirement.
I was that local activist, so I remember a bit about it. In 1995 the sheriff imposed an extra-legal requirement that an applicant obtain a “doctor’s note” attesting to his or her mental health. That was not only outside state law, but introduced a practical problem because most general practitioners were reticent to formally attest to something outside their field of expertise, and many applicants did not have a regular family doctor who might take the risk.
I refused to comply with the requirement, and the deputy at the sheriffs department made the mistake of allowing me to file the rest of the application without it. Thus I had to be issued a formal denial of my application for the permit, on those grounds, which gave me standing to file suit.
My mistake was telling the media the truth, which was that I anticipated losing in the county Court of Common Pleas, which would enable me to take the case to Commonwealth Court, where I expected to win. That would have resulted in a statewide precedent being established. For that reason, the sheriff mooted my suit by repealing the requirement, on the Friday before we were to go to court, the following Monday. Thus I was personally successful in my action, but failed to establish a useful precedent, which had been my goal all along. The sheriff denied that my suit had anything at all to do with his abrupt reversal of policy.
For what it was worth, the sheriff communicated that I could apply again without the doctor’s note, and I replied that I would not do that, because my first application had been complete and totally adequate in every way. The sheriff at that point issued my permit, which could be taken as a confession on his part that my initial application had been legally complete. However, I doubt that would carry any important legal weight as a precedent at any level.
One of the galling memories for me from the period was that with most county gun owners, that (Republican) sheriff managed to keep a reputation of being “pro-gun,” despite characterizing himself to the press as “standing up to the NRA” during our face-off. In fact, the NRA had not involved itself in the slightest way.
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