HARRISBURG – The Commonwealth Court of
Pennsylvania reversed a ruling in December in which the Court of Common Pleas of Montgomery
Count denied a motion for a preliminary injunction against an ordinance that
prohibits the carrying or discharging of firearms in a park without a special
Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC) president Kim Stolfer
and Joseph Abramson appealed the lower court ruling.
“This ruling is long overdue and builds upon the 1996 Ortiz
PA Supreme Court decision that the statewide constitutional concerns embodied
in Article 1, Section 21 and 25 of the PA Constitution are important as is the
constitutional precept of ‘equal protections,’” Stolfer told the Pennsylvania Record.
Lower Merion Township
has the potential next move in the
“We’ll wait to see if Lower Merion Township appeals to the Pa. Supreme Court,” he said. “If not, it'll be remanded to the court of common
pleas, and we'll have to see how the court wants to handle it.”
The ordinance enacted by Lower Merion Township in 2011 imposes
a maximum fine of $600 per violation and authorizes the police to remove
violators from township parks or recreation areas.
In 2014, FOAC told the township that the ordinance violated the
Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act (UFA) because it improperly restricted
firearm possession in township parks.
After the township refused to repeal the ordinance, several FOAC
members held a rally in a township park. No citations were issued and no threats
of prosecution were made.
The plaintiffs filed a complaint against the township on
March 20, 2015, seeking an injunction and alleging that the ordinance violated the
Pennsylvania Constitution and was preempted by the UFA. The plaintiffs also alleged
that greater injury would result from refusing the injunction because the
plaintiffs would face prosecution and be deprived of their constitutional and
In response to the injunction motion, the township argued
that there was no evidence that it ever enforced the ordinance, so any alleged
harm “was speculative and insufficient to warrant issuance of a preliminary injunction,”
the Commonwealth Court said in its ruling.
The township also argued that more harm would result from
granting the injunction than refusing it because, in part, “prohibiting the
unlawful possession of firearms is essential to the safety of the township’s
In denying the injunction request, the Montgomery County court
called the plaintiffs’ claims uncertain and ruled that, therefore, “the matter
is not ripe for a preliminary injunction.” However, the Commonwealth Court said
a previous ruling “expressly rejected the argument the township proffered” in
the FOAC case that the regulation of unlawful firearm possession is consistent
with the UFA.”
Stolfer said Lower Merion Township is not the only
municipality in Pennsylvania that has attempted to “enact and maintain laws
that violate PA Preemption law (Title 18, Section 6120) by regulating firearms.”
“There are a number of communities that are in violation of
PA Law such as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, etc.,” Stolfer said. “The
fact that misinformed and biased local elected officials attempt to advance
their own anti-self-defense agendas at the expense of our rights and freedoms