Superior Court Rules No Weapons on School Property

Some unfortunate news from Pennsylvania Superior Court. I believe Superior Courts mean this is now law in the entire state, so currently, it is now illegal to carry weapons on school property. The law states:

§ 912. Possession of weapon on school property.

(a) Definition.–Notwithstanding the definition of “weapon” in section 907 (relating to possessing instruments of crime),”weapon” for purposes of this section shall include but not be limited to any knife, cutting instrument, cutting tool, nun-chuck stick, firearm, shotgun, rifle and any other tool, instrument or implement capable of inflicting serious bodily injury.

(b) Offense defined.–A person commits a misdemeanor of the first degree if he possesses a weapon in the buildings of, on the grounds of, or in any conveyance providing transportation to or from any elementary or secondary publicly-funded educational institution, any elementary or secondary private school licensed by the Department of Education or any elementary or secondary parochial school.

(c) Defense.–It shall be a defense that the weapon is possessed and used in conjunction with a lawful supervised school activity or course or is possessed for other lawful purpose.

The Superior Court ruled that “other lawful purpose” needed to have a sanction from the school. In other words, the lunch ladies can have knives in the school, because their purpose is to cook lunch for the kiddies. The janitor can have a screwdriver, but not a student.

Statutes that are vague or unclear are supposed to be interpreted in a light most favorable to the defendant, but this very clear language, which exempts lawful purposes, was read to favor the state. The law already carved out an exception for the lunch ladies when it said “It shall be a defense that the weapon is possessed and used in conjunction with a lawful supervised school activity or course,” but then it went on to create a separate defense, the “other lawful purposes” defense, for the chef dropping his kid off at school on the way to the restaurant with the knives he just got sharpened.

As Josh Prince notes in his article, this appeal was pursued by a pro-se defendant, meaning a guy representing himself. That’s usually an invitation to disaster, as it was here. Nonetheless, the law is clear here, but there is no rule of law. They offer us the illusion, and not even a very good illusion, that there is rule of law, all the while ruling however they damned please.

12 thoughts on “Superior Court Rules No Weapons on School Property”

  1. Sigh. I hope Prince can get involved and get an en banc ruling. Its clear the majority had a result in mind and played word games to get there. The dissenting opinion destroys their argument.

    1. In court, 2+2=[whatever you can convince a judge and/or 12 handpicked morons to go along with]. 4 is optional. Deal with it.

  2. From the original trial ruling:
    My view of the plain reading or the plain language in the statute is that the defense is there for some lawful purpose upon which the weapon would be brought onto the school property, that’s not the same thing as saying that the weapon wasn’t brought there for some unlawful purpose. I see a distinction between those two…. [emphasis added]

    Why on Earth? It’s a distinction without a difference. An item carried for a lawful purpose is by definition not carried for an unlawful purpose. Conversely, an item carried for an unlawful purpose is not carried for a lawful purpose. There is literally no difference, yet the judge found a distinction.

    The only — I repeat, ONLY — reason to find a distinction where no difference exists is to wrangle some way to uphold the conviction despite the clear wording of the law.

    1. Come to think of it, this is just like a comment made about the recent FBI report about Hillary Clinton. The law requires “gross negligence”, but Hillary was just “extremely reckless”. What’s the difference?

      We are getting so close to the point that the Legal Minds will manipulate the law to convict the innocent and let the guilty go free, that it makes me want to hide under a bed, curl up into a ball, and whimper, wondering what happened to our country to get to this point.

      We are *not* heading towards a pretty place, are we?

  3. Yikes! I was going to make a snarky comment about carrying a pocket knife in my pocket, something I do on a daily basis, because while I seldom use it, when I need it, it’s very nice that I have something I can pull out of my pocket, to cut things, to open cans, and so forth…

    Then I decided to read the decision, and discovered that this is exactly what got the guy in trouble in the first place. He carried a pocketknife in his pocket!

    According to the blog post, the decision can still be appealed by an en blanc Superior Court. I hope someone gives this guy good council, though, but seriously, how can this not be seen as the Court screwing over the little guy, and that this guy acted completely without malice, regardless of his status of representation?

  4. I would be willing to chip in some bucks for Prince to get involved if he is willing and the defendant will accept the help.

    Ok that was not good english. I’m not an english major nor a lawyer. Heck I’m a high school drop out. I got all my education at “SeaU”.

  5. I sometimes wonder if the application of laws was always this raw, and we only started noticing because of increase in speed and volume of communications.

    1. With a ruling like this, however, I’m not sure if getting a better attorney would have helped…

      In particular, you have some pretty deliberate contorted reasoning to get to the conclusion the majority made.

      At the same time, I hope that getting a better attorney will help in appeal!

  6. Shoulda told those black-robed tyrants that -like Hillary – he had no “intention” of breaking the law.

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