Advocacy groups team up to smack down PA town’s ban on gun ranges

Advocacy groups team up to smack down PA town’s ban on gun ranges
AP Photo/Wilson Ring

There have been two cases, probably more, but two that I’ve followed over the last few years, that deal with Pennsylvania towns restricting people’s abilities to have shooting ranges on their property. There was a Second Amendment Foundation funded case, Drummond v. Robinson Township, which was settled in 2021 in the Western District Court of Pennsylvania, and remanded back to the lower court. The other case, Barris vs. Stroud Township, settled in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, with an order reversing a lower court’s decision, and it is now on appeal to the PA Supreme Court. A coalition of like minded patriots have banded together and filed an amicus brief in support of Barris.

Jonathan Barris is the owner of a 4.66 acre plot of land in Stroud Township. A 2011 ordinance strictly restricted firearm discharge within the limits of the Township’s jurisdiction. Barris submitted a permit application for the construction of a shooting range on his land in December of 2012. By the end of January 2013, Barris was denied. Barris fought the Township in a trial court, and the court found the decision to deny his permit within the bounds of the Second Amendment. That decision was reversed on appeal in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania in 2020. Not being able to withstand defeat, the Township appealed to the PA Supreme court.

From a release from Firearms Owners Against Crime ILLEA, the following groups have teamed up and filed an amicus brief alongside them; The Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League, The Beaver County Conservation and Sportsmen’s League, Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania, and The USCCA Legal Defense Foundation.

On October 21st, 2022, a coalition of like-minded organizations filed a joint Amici Curiae Brief with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that was brilliantly penned by Attorney Joshua Prince Esq. This brief was in support of Appellee (Jonathan Barris) and in the opposition to Appellant’s (Stroud Township) appeal from the May 28th, 2021, Decision and Order of the Commonwealth Court Docket No. 671 C.D. 2020.

The summary of argument states that:

As this Court may affirm on any legal grounds, consistent with the constitutional avoidance doctrine, this Court should affirm the Commonwealth Court’s decision on the grounds of the express firearm preemption provided by 18 Pa.C.S. § 6120, or alternatively, based upon the field preemption of the Uniform Firearms Act and other related statutory provisions. In the alternative, this Court should affirm, pursuant to the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution or alternatively, find that Stroud Township’s Ordinance is violative of Article 1, Section 26 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, vagueness doctrine, or the rule of lenity.

The brief further notes that they are in accord with another amicus which was filed by the Firearms Policy Coalition, “further exhibiting unprecedented cooperation between various organizations that represent nearly 1-million-gun owners, and sportsmen.”

For being very rural and full of sportsmen, Pennsylvania sure does have a weird habit of trampling on the Second Amendment in different ways. The Commonwealth does have the baddest Cabela’s in the country, just sayin’. The banning of ranges and circumventing of preemption seems to be the offenders’ forte in PA. What’s interesting is the offenders continue to double down, as if they love to waste taxpayer’s money on defending blatantly unconstitutional measures. In light of NYSRPA v. Bruen, hardly any of these provisions can stand against the level of scrutiny prescribed.

I reached out to Klint Macro, the Firearms Owners Against Crime – ILLEA 2nd Vice President and Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League President to talk about this exciting filing. He was hopeful that the lower court’s ruling would stand and declared;

Each day, somewhere in the halls of government at the local, state, and federal level a war is being waged upon our individual rights and liberties. Pro-Liberty/Pro-2A organizations and their members must endeavor to educate our fellow Americans and fight well funded tyrants in the courts to prevent damaging decisions and precedent that could have ongoing negative ramifications upon our ability to protect ourselves and those that we love. I am honored to be a part of this coalition of organizations that has assembled for the purpose of this brief and I believe the cooperation shown here sends a strong message. An armed and educated citizenry is the true check and balance in our Constitutional Republic and the ultimate homeland security.

All the parties stated they “agree that [they] must fight to prevent ‘bad precedent’ from being established by the deep pockets of anti-gun organizations and local politicians that act above the laws of the Commonwealth to limit and infringe upon the rights of Pennsylvanians.”

Of course we’ll be watching as the case progresses at the PA Supreme Court level. Naturally it seems that this should be a slam dunk, but trying to predict what the courts will do will put us in treacherous waters. Regardless, wishing the plaintiff and all parties rooting for him a fair and just opinion, which would coincidently and ultimately result in victory if its so.

Firearms Owners Against Crime – Institute for Legal, Legislative and Educational Action is a non-partisan, non-profit corporation organized pursuant to section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code for the purposes of developing and advocating for legislation, regulations, and government programs to improve safety, protect citizens, stimulate sportsmen’s activities and safe legal firearm ownership; conducting and publicizing research into the positions of elected officials concerning these issues; providing legal defense of firearms and sportsmen’s related issues; and educating the public on safe and legal firearm ownership, and constitutional issues relating thereto.

Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League is a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation, whose mission is to promote and foster, conservation of wildlife and natural resources, advance hunting and fishing, and to defend and protect, the Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, especially the Second Amendment and Article 1, Section 21, respectively.

Beaver County Sportsmen’s Conservation League is a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation, whose mission is to promote and foster, conservation of wildlife and natural resources, advance hunting and fishing, and to defend and protect, the Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, especially the Second Amendment and Article 1, Section 21, respectively.

Unified Sportsmen of PA is a non-profit, incorporated sportsmen group. Based on the Pennsylvania Constitution, the USPA’s purpose is to support fishing, hunting, shooting, and trapping, as well as, promoting conservation and natural resources.

USCCA Legal Defense Foundation exists to provide legal defense funding and grants to gun owners to assist with legal costs. The foundation helps responsible gun owners fight unmeritorious prosecution and unconstitutional administrative actions like emergency risk protection order, improper gun confiscation and unfounded concealed carry permit revocation. Essential to our mission is an individuals’ right to self-defense and due process guaranteed under the Constitution of the United States.