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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20170&cosponId=23170
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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: March 6, 2017 09:56 AM
From: Representative Russ Diamond
To: All House members
Subject: Preemption of Local LCTF Regulation
 
In the near future I will be introducing legislation to affirm the General Assembly’s will and authority in regards to the issuance of a license to carry firearms (LCTF). In short, my legislation will eliminate the “character and reputation” provision contained within Title 18.

The character and reputation provision provides no definitions, standards, policies or limitations as to what constitutes the proper “character and reputation” to qualify for a LTCF. As such, it not only fails to provide an applicant with notice as to whether he/she has the requisite character and reputation, but also represents a problematic legislative delegation of authority, unlike the other explicit criteria found within Section 6109(e)(1).

Our Supreme Court in Commonwealth v. Ortiz, 545 PA. 279, 681 (1996) declared: “Because the ownership of firearms is constitutionally protected, its regulation is a matter of statewide concern… Thus, regulation of firearms is a matter of concern in all of Pennsylvania, not merely in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and the General Assembly, not city councils, is the proper forum for the imposition of such regulation.”

Contrary to this declaration, some local issuing authorities subjectively impose regulation regarding who is eligible for a LCTF, cloaking their regulation under the character and reputation clause. It is easy to imagine that this could – if it hasn’t already – lead to 67 vastly different sets of qualifying criteria across the Commonwealth, constantly changing according to the whims of the individuals elected or appointed to administer our issuing agencies.

Recently a young woman, who comes from a law enforcement background and lacks any criminal or mental health history, was denied a LCTF after moving to a different county, even though she was granted a LCTF by the county sheriff where she previously resided. The character and reputation provision allows for the unequal application of the law, as evidenced by this young lady’s plight.

The Supreme Court recently ruled on a similar matter of delegation and ambiguity. In finding that our School Code was unconstitutional as it violated the non-delegation provision of Article II, Section 1, the Court declared that the purpose of Article II, Section 1 is “to ensure the Pennsylvania Legislature makes basic policy choices and to protect against the arbitrary exercise or unnecessary and uncontrolled discretionary power." W. Philadelphia Achievement Charter Elementary School v. School District of Philadelphia, 132 A.3d 957, 966, 968 (Pa. 2016).

The Court continued on that “the legislative body must surround such authority with definite standards, policies and limitations to which such administrative officers, boards or commission must strictly adhere and by which they are strictly governed."

I urge you to join me in cosponsoring legislation to remove this ambiguous and constitutionally unsound delegation of authority and ensure that all Pennsylvanians are treated equally under our laws. No individual should have their constitutional rights diminished merely based on the county in which they reside.

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Introduced as HB918