As our viewers are aware, earlier today I published a blog article that With a Stroke of a Pen, PA Governor Wolf Limits Firearm Rights by Proclaiming a State of Emergency; but, what are the unintended (or possibly intended) further consequences of the Proclamation?
As people start to prepare for the NRA’s Great American Outdoor Show (GAOS) from February 3-11 in Harrisburg, PA at the Farm Show Complex, it is important to understand the impact on both the vendors and attendees. As I explained in my earlier article, Section 6107, in pertinent part, provides
(a) General rule.–No person shall carry a firearm upon the public streets or upon any public property during an emergency proclaimed by a State or municipal governmental executive unless that person is:(1) Actively engaged in a defense of that person’s life or property from peril or threat.(2) Licensed to carry firearms under section 6109 (relating to licenses) or is exempt from licensing under section 6106(b) (relating to firearms not to be carried without a license).…(c) Definitions.–As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:“Accessory.” Any scope, sight, bipod, sling, light, magazine, clip or other related item that is attached to or necessary for the operation of a firearm.“Firearm.” The term includes any weapon that is designed to or may readily be converted to expel any projectile by the action of an explosive or the frame or receiver of any weapon.
So what’s the concern? How could Governor Wolf’s Proclamation possibly affect the Great American Outdoors Show?
As I addressed in my earlier article, the Proclamation seemingly meets the criteria to trigger the Section 6107 prohibitions, since it is an emergency proclamation issued by a State governmental executive. Additionally, to the surprise of many people, the Farm Show Complex, where the show will be held, is actually owned by the Commonwealth and is therefore public property; thereby, prohibiting the carrying of a firearm, as defined by Section 6107, anywhere on the property, during the proclamation of emergency, unless the person meets an exception.
As the first exception is not (or at least not likely) applicable to the show, let’s turn to second set of exceptions – an individual who has been issued a license to carry firearms, pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 6109 or who is otherwise exempt under 18 Pa.C.S. § 6106(b). Obviously, the first is self-explanatory, but what about the exemptions found in 6106(b)? Well, Section 6106(b) provides:
(1) Constables, sheriffs, prison or jail wardens, or their deputies, policemen of this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions, or other law-enforcement officers.(2) Members of the army, navy, marine corps, air force or coast guard of the United States or of the National Guard or organized reserves when on duty.(3) The regularly enrolled members of any organization duly organized to purchase or receive such firearms from the United States or from this Commonwealth.(4) Any persons engaged in target shooting with a firearm, if such persons are at or are going to or from their places of assembly or target practice and if, while going to or from their places of assembly or target practice, the firearm is not loaded.(5) Officers or employees of the United States duly authorized to carry a concealed firearm.(6) Agents, messengers and other employees of common carriers, banks, or business firms, whose duties require them to protect moneys, valuables and other property in the discharge of such duties.(7) Any person engaged in the business of manufacturing, repairing, or dealing in firearms, or the agent or representative of any such person, having in his possession, using or carrying a firearm in the usual or ordinary course of such business.(8) Any person while carrying a firearm which is not loaded and is in a secure wrapper from the place of purchase to his home or place of business, or to a place of repair, sale or appraisal or back to his home or place of business, or in moving from one place of abode or business to another or from his home to a vacation or recreational home or dwelling or back, or to recover stolen property under section 6111.1(b)(4) (relating to Pennsylvania State Police), or to a place of instruction intended to teach the safe handling, use or maintenance of firearms or back or to a location to which the person has been directed to relinquish firearms under 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108 (relating to relief) or back upon return of the relinquished firearm or to a licensed dealer’s place of business for relinquishment pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108.2 (relating to relinquishment for consignment sale, lawful transfer or safekeeping) or back upon return of the relinquished firearm or to a location for safekeeping pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 6108.3 (relating to relinquishment to third party for safekeeping) or back upon return of the relinquished firearm.(9) Persons licensed to hunt, take furbearers or fish in this Commonwealth, if such persons are actually hunting, taking furbearers or fishing as permitted by such license, or are going to the places where they desire to hunt, take furbearers or fish or returning from such places.(10) Persons training dogs, if such persons are actually training dogs during the regular training season.(11) Any person while carrying a firearm in any vehicle, which person possesses a valid and lawfully issued license for that firearm which has been issued under the laws of the United States or any other state.(12) A person who has a lawfully issued license to carry a firearm pursuant to section 6109 (relating to licenses) and that said license expired within six months prior to the date of arrest and that the individual is otherwise eligible for renewal of the license.(13) Any person who is otherwise eligible to possess a firearm under this chapter and who is operating a motor vehicle which is registered in the person’s name or the name of a spouse or parent and which contains a firearm for which a valid license has been issued pursuant to section 6109 to the spouse or parent owning the firearm.(14) A person lawfully engaged in the interstate transportation of a firearm as defined under 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3) (relating to definitions) in compliance with 18 U.S.C. § 926A (relating to interstate transportation of firearms).(15) Any person who possesses a valid and lawfully issued license or permit to carry a firearm which has been issued under the laws of another state, regardless of whether a reciprocity agreement exists between the Commonwealth and the state under section 6109(k), provided:(i) The state provides a reciprocal privilege for individuals licensed to carry firearms under section 6109.(ii) The Attorney General has determined that the firearm laws of the state are similar to the firearm laws of this Commonwealth.(16) Any person holding a license in accordance with section 6109(f)(3).
Clearly, any vendor or attendee who is a “person engaged in the business of manufacturing, repairing, or dealing in firearms, or the agent or representative of any such person” would be exempt (but see the below caution), as would anyone carrying pursuant to a reciprocity agreement or carrying pursuant to subsection (b)(15). Other vendors and attendees would seemingly be prohibited, although some employees may be able to claim that they are agents, messengers or other employees of a “business firm, whose duties require them to protect moneys, valuables and other property in the discharge of such duties.”
Unfortunately, as few people are aware, as a result of the Superior Court’s en banc decision late last year in Commonwealth v. Anderson, these “exceptions” in Section 6106(b) were found by the Superior Court to be “defenses” that need to be proven at trial. Thus, any individual claiming “exception” under Section 6106(b) can be prosecuted and forced to argue the exception as a defense to the prosecution.
More disconcerting, unlike the emergency proclamation statute, 35 Pa.C.S. § 7301, utilized by Governor Wolf to issue the proclamation, 18 Pa.C.S. § 6107 does not provide the Governor with any authority to limit or otherwise preclude the enactment of the prohibitions. Rather, the issuance of an emergency proclamation automatically, and seemingly in violation of Article 1, Section 21 and the Second Amendment, prohibits the carrying of “a firearm upon the public streets or upon any public property during [the] emergency.”
In relation to hunting on state game lands, pursuant to Section 6106(b)(9), those individuals would likewise be entitled to the “defense,” provided that he/she is “licensed to hunt, take furbearers or fish in this Commonwealth, if such persons are actually hunting, taking furbearers or fishing as permitted by such license, or are going to the places where they desire to hunt, take furbearers or fish or returning from such places.”
While the General Assembly has previously considered repealing Section 6107, Governor Wolf’s Proclamation of today underscores the necessity for the General Assembly to repeal Section 6107, as it is blatantly unconstitutional.
Please contact your State Representatives and demand that they immediately repeal Section 6107, so that YOUR rights aren’t infringed and so that YOU aren’t forced to pay attorney fees and costs to prove, as a defense, one of the exceptions in Section 6106. When contacting them, also demand that the draconian transportation laws of Section 6106 be repealed, as well.
If you or someone you know has had their right to keep and bear arms infringed as a result of this state of emergency, contact Firearms Industry Consulting Group today to discuss YOUR rights and legal options.
Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademark and division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., with rights and permissions granted to Prince Law Offices, P.C. to use in this article.