Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
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    Default Handgun Registry in PA

    A lot of folks have been making noise lately about whether PA has gun registration or not, and some confusion exists. D-Fens, notably, has been very helpful in raising the issue for everyone, but folks seem to continue to have questions.

    So, with a nod (and much citation to the 2004 Pa. Supreme Court decision), here is the state of the law in Pa.:

    Section 6111.4 of the UFA prohibits government or law enforcement agencies from creating, maintaining and operating a "registry of firearm ownership."

    but:

    "Under the Firearms Act, every person purchasing a handgun in Pennsylvania from a licensed dealer is required to provide the dealer with identifying information including the purchaser's name, gender, race, social security number, address and date of birth. This information is recorded on a one-page form knows as an "application/record of sale." See 18 Pa.C.S. 6111(b)(1). The application/record of sale is filled out in triplicate: the original copy is forwarded to the Pennsylvania State Police within 14 days of the sale; one copy is retained by the licensed importer, manufacturer or dealer for a period of 20 years; and the final copy is provided to the purchaser. See id. The Pennsylvania State Police incorporate the information in the application/record of sale into a database of persons who lawfully purchase handguns in Pennsylvania. This database has been maintained by the Pennsylvania State Police since 1943."

    Allegheny County Sportsmen's League v. Rendell, 580 Pa. 149, 152 (Pa. 2004) (emphasis added).

    So, just to clear things up, Pennsylvania has, for the past 60+ years, maintained a database of handgun sales in the Commonwealth.

    By way of background, the ACSL brought suit, alleging that the database constituted an illegal registry (per Section 6111.4).

    Looks like a registry, smells like a registry, must be a registry, right?

    No, said the court. It's not -- it's merely a database of sales. The court concluded that if it were a registry, all persons bringing firearms into the state would be required to submit registration data. The court continued, holding that, in any case, the database wasn't prohibited under 6111.4 because it wasn't regarding all firearms, just handguns.

    Rather tortured logic, but we end up with the situation that:

    Firearms registries are illegal in Pa.
    The state police may retain records of firearms sales.
    Records of sales don't constitute a registry.

    Amazing, huh?

    And despite what the PSP represents when you call them, they can run the serial number of a firearm in a matter of seconds. If an officer during a traffic stop wants to run your gun's serial, he can, and he can find out who the last purchaser was (if the purchase took place in Pa.) in seconds.
    The material presented herein is for informational purposes only, is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up to date, does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should NOT act or rely on any information in this post or e-mail without seeking the advice of an attorney YOU have retained.

    In plain English, while I am an attorney, I'm NOT your attorney, and I'm NOT giving you legal advice.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Handgun Registry in PA

    Quote Originally Posted by Rule10b5 View Post
    Rather tortured logic, but we end up with the situation that:

    Firearms registries are illegal in Pa.
    The state police may retain records of firearms sales.
    Records of sales don't constitute a registry.

    Amazing, huh?
    yep, the state supreme court re-defined the english language...as supreme courts are known to do.

    in this case they redefined "any registry" to mean "a complete registry".

    they also redefined "shall be destroyed within 72 hours" to mean "do not have to be destroyed ever" (regarding "an application /record of sale received by the Pennsylvania State Police").

    one of the more obvious examples of the state supreme court not doing its job and violating their oath to uphold the state constitution.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Handgun Registry in PA

    yea, it sure is amazing how the courts interpret our laws sometimes. It almost sounds like an undercover registry. I'm not sure if that is good or bad. I can tell you here in OH, the police are forbidden from keeping any records of gun sales, so I don't believe there is any sort of registration, other than with the ATF since the gun serial number is recorded on the federal form.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Handgun Registry in PA

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleRedToyota View Post

    one of the more obvious examples of the state supreme court not doing its job and violating their oath to uphold the state constitution.
    Yep. Good thing Hawkins was decided in the context of probable cause (for the arrest of a drug dealer), or we'd be in deep shit. If it had come up as a straight gun case, we'd have lost.
    The material presented herein is for informational purposes only, is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up to date, does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. You should NOT act or rely on any information in this post or e-mail without seeking the advice of an attorney YOU have retained.

    In plain English, while I am an attorney, I'm NOT your attorney, and I'm NOT giving you legal advice.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Handgun Registry in PA

    Quote Originally Posted by Weights View Post
    can tell you here in OH, the police are forbidden from keeping any records of gun sales
    they are expressly forbidden from doing that here, too.

    (v) Unless it has been discovered pursuant to a criminal history, juvenile delinquency and mental health records background check that the potential purchaser or transferee is prohib*ited from possessing a firearm pursuant to section 6105 (relating to persons not to possess, use, manufacture, control, sell or transfer firearms), no information on the application/record of sale provided pursuant to this subsection shall be retained as precluded by section 6111.4 (relating to registration of firearms) by the Pennsylvania State Police either through retention of the application/record of sale or by entering the information on a computer, and, further, an application /record of sale received by the Pennsylvania State Police pursuant to this subsec*tion shall be destroyed within 72 hours of the completion of the criminal history, juvenile de*linquency and mental health records background check.
    but, our wonderful state supreme court apparently doesn't care about this little section of the UFA.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Handgun Registry in PA

    Decisions by the court like this, who choose to ignore the constitution, is why I am not crossing my fingers in a favorable ruling should the Supreme Court hear the DC handgun ban appeal. The overturn was definitely the right decision, and I do hope the court hears the appeal so we can maybe have a chance of challenging other unconstitutional gun laws in the case of a favorable ruling. But, I will not be surprised if the Supreme Court were to reinstate DC's handgun ban.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Handgun Registry in PA

    So much for "spirit of the law"
    That only applies if you break one, not the state.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Handgun Registry in PA

    Quote Originally Posted by Pa. Patriot View Post
    So much for "spirit of the law"
    heck, in this case, you don't even have to resort to "spirit of the law"...even going by the strict "letter of the law", the PSP's database is illegal...

    but, the supreme court just redefined a few words to get around that.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Handgun Registry in PA

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleRedToyota View Post
    they are expressly forbidden from doing that here, too.



    but, our wonderful state supreme court apparently doesn't care about this little section of the UFA.
    Then the only suitable option is to vote ALL of the current judges out of office and make sure they know why it's happening!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Handgun Registry in PA

    Isn't this the same court that said methane gas was really coal?

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