Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Judicial Activism on Display in Pennsylvania

Friday, October 25, 2013

Pennsylvania's state motto is "Virtue, liberty, and independence," but liberty took a hit this week with a disturbing ruling by the Pennsylvania Superior Court.  Given the decision in Commonwealth v. McKown, Keystone State residents cannot lawfully carry concealed in-state on a valid concealed carry license (CCL) issued by another jurisdiction.  Instead, they may use only a Pennsylvania CCL.  This rule applies, moreover, even where Pennsylvania has a reciprocity agreement with the other state.

Hobson Lyle McKown, a Pennsylvania resident, had a Pennsylvania CCL that was revoked on April 14, 2008, although he did not get the notice until April 29. On April 15, McKown applied for, and later obtained, a New Hampshire CCL. In the fall of 2008, McKown was arrested for a concealed carry violation and claimed that, as a valid New Hampshire permit holder, he did not violate the law. 

The case centered on two provisions of Pennsylvania law. The first, which makes it an offense to carry a concealed firearm outside of a person's home or workplace, exempts, among others, "any person" with a valid permit to carry issued by another state. (18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6106(b)(15)). However, this statutory reciprocity hinges on the Attorney General having made a determination that the firearm laws of the other state are similar to Pennsylvania's, and the state took the position that this precondition had not been met regarding New Hampshire's laws (although significantly, the state has a reciprocity agreement with New Hampshire under which each jurisdiction recognizes the other's CCL).

The second and different provision, § 6109(b), titled "place of application," states that "an individual" "may" apply for a Pennsylvania CCL, and, if the applicant is a state resident, the application "shall" be made to the sheriff or chief of police in the jurisdiction where the applicant lives.

McKown was convicted, with the trial court finding that his New Hampshire permit did not meet the requirements in § 6106.  According to the trial court, New Hampshire will only issue CCLs to residents of other states who are licensed by their home state, and McKown was not validly licensed by Pennsylvania at the time he applied for the New Hampshire CCL. McKown appealed this decision, and the Pennsylvania Superior Court rejected his appeal.

In doing so, the Superior Court went much further than the trial court, twisting the straightforward language of § 6109(b) to mean that no Pennsylvania resident was entitled to rely on an out-of-state CCL, valid or otherwise. The court interpreted the "shall" wording in § 6109(b) – a direction regarding where residents should apply – as imposing a mandatory and exclusive application process for residents. The court concluded there was "nothing optional with respect to whether a Pennsylvania license is required for a Pennsylvania resident who wants to carry a concealed weapon in Pennsylvania." 

The decision is troubling on multiple levels. It ignores existing law that extends reciprocity to any person's out-of-state CCL, and reinterprets "any person" to mean "only persons who are not Pennsylvania residents." If the Pennsylvania legislature had intended that residents be restricted to carrying on in-state permits only, it surely would have expressed this clearly and unequivocally (indeed, bills to do exactly that have been introduced and rejected in recent legislative sessions).

More to the point, the appellate court could have resolved the case (as did the trial court) simply by deciding whether McKown's New Hampshire permit was valid at the time of his arrest.  Indeed, the court acknowledges as much in its own opinion and holds that the trial court ruled correctly on this point.  Nevertheless, it created a much broader ruling and resolved a hotly contested political issue that should have been left to the Pennsylvania legislature. 

TRENDING NOW
Bloomberg Dismisses Texas Hero, Insists It Wasn’t His “Job” to Have a Gun or Decide to Shoot

News  

Monday, January 6, 2020

Bloomberg Dismisses Texas Hero, Insists It Wasn’t His “Job” to Have a Gun or Decide to Shoot

Jack Wilson – a 71-year-old congregant of the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, Tex. – is a hero to most Americans. When a deranged man savagely murdered two of Mr. Wilson’s fellow ...

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Alert! Florida REPUBLICAN Senators Vote for Massive Gun Control Bill

On Monday, 1/13/20, it happened again.  Senate President Bill Galvano picked a fight with Floridians who believe in the constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms. It is well known -- even by the media ...

New Hampshire: Bill to Shut Down Shooting Ranges Set for Committee Hearing

Thursday, January 16, 2020

New Hampshire: Bill to Shut Down Shooting Ranges Set for Committee Hearing

On January 23rd, the New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 469, sponsored by Senator Jeanne Dietsch (D – District 9), at 10:00 AM in Room 100 of the State ...

Virginia: Bill Filed to Eliminate Right-to-Carry Permit Reciprocity!

News  

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Virginia: Bill Filed to Eliminate Right-to-Carry Permit Reciprocity!

In an unhinged effort to attack Virginians’ Second Amendment rights, one member of the Michael Bloomberg-bought General Assembly is willing to undermine a bipartisan policy advanced by the previous Democratic governor and target one of the state’s ...

Virginia: Senate Passes Three Anti-Gun Bills

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Virginia: Senate Passes Three Anti-Gun Bills

On Thursday, January 16th, the Virginia Senate voted to pass three of the anti-gun bills that the Senate Judiciary Committee approved on Monday. The fight is far from over! Dozens of other gun control bills ...

California: Self-Defense Bill Fails to Pass Committee

Thursday, January 16, 2020

California: Self-Defense Bill Fails to Pass Committee

This week, Assembly Bill 503 failed to pass out of the Assembly Public Safety Committee on a party line vote.   AB 503, sponsored by Assembly Member Heath Flora (R-12) would have allowed an individual with a valid ...

Washington: Additional Hearing Scheduled on Gun Ban Bills

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Washington: Additional Hearing Scheduled on Gun Ban Bills

On Tuesday, January 21st, at 10AM, the House Civil Rights & Judiciary Committee will consider several anti-gun bills that would severely restrict the Constitutional Rights of law-abiding Washingtonian citizens. This hearing comes just one day ...

Grassroots Ramp Up Continues in the Old Dominion

News  

Friday, January 10, 2020

Grassroots Ramp Up Continues in the Old Dominion

Virginia’s General Assembly officially kicked off on January 8th, and the newly-controlled anti-gun legislative body is wasting no time in pushing its crusade against our gun rights.  Facing a barrage of bills anathema to our ...

Virginia: Senate Voting On Anti-Gun Bills Today!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Virginia: Senate Voting On Anti-Gun Bills Today!

The anti-gun majority continues to fast track their agenda. On January 16th, the full Virginia Senate will be holding floor votes on the gun control bills that only left committee on Monday.

Washington: “Gun-Free Zone” Bill on Senate Floor

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Washington: “Gun-Free Zone” Bill on Senate Floor

On January 13th, the Washington Senate pulled Senate Bill 5434 from the Senate Rules Committee back to the floor, where it can receive a vote at any time. SB 5434 was retained as a carry-over ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.