Illegal PA gun registration backed by state supreme court


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Diggler
October 20, 2004, 08:20 AM
Court Upholds State Police Records On Gun Purchases (http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/news/3834411/detail.html)

Court Upholds State Police Records On Gun Purchases
Ruling Upholds Commonwealth Court Judge's 2001 Ruling

POSTED: 9:57 pm EDT October 19, 2004
UPDATED: 10:03 pm EDT October 19, 2004

PITTSBURGH -- A state police database of handgun sales is not an illegal registry of firearm ownership, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, turning away arguments by sportsmen who have challenged the database for four years.

The high court, in a 3-2 ruling, rejected arguments that the state police database violates the state's 1995 Uniform Firearms Act. The ruling upholds a Commonwealth Court judge's ruling in 2001.

Gun owners and sportsmen sued in 2000, maintaining that the computer database constitutes an illegal registry of firearms ownership.

Specifically, the lawsuit claimed that the information state police glean from handgun purchases violates the 1995 law that bars police from maintaining a registry of firearms ownership. The sportsmen also contended that the practice violates a 1997 law that requires state police to destroy certain gun-sale records within 72 hours, following a criminal record check.

Data from the purchase forms - the buyer's name, date of birth, Social Security number, the date of sale, the identity of the dealer, and the serial number, make and caliber of the handgun - are entered into a computer database that also contains criminal history information and is shared with local police.

Writing for the majority, Justice Ronald D. Castille found that the database of sales was not tantamount to an ownership registry.

"Although the database may be a registry, it is not a registry of firearm ownership ... The database does not maintain a record of all firearms owned by Pennsylvanians, which would include long guns (shotguns and rifles), or firearms that are owned by Pennsylvanians, but not purchased in the Commonwealth," Castille wrote.

State police said the provision requiring records to be destroyed within three days is intended to apply only to "long-gun" purchases, and only when the state's electronic instant background checking system breaks down for more than 48 hours. The state has kept records of handgun purchases since 1931, and it has been a state police responsibility since 1943.

In a dissent, Justices Russell M. Nigro and Sandra Schultz Newman, said the database did rise to an illegal registry of gun owners.

"Even though the database at issue here does not include every person in Pennsylvania who owns a handgun ... it nevertheless violates (state law) by keeping a partial record of handgun ownership insofar as it records those persons who either own or used to own a handgun that they purchased," Nigro wrote.

Justices Thomas Saylor and William H. Lamb, who left the bench in January, did not take part in the ruling.

The lawsuit and appeal were filed by the Allegheny County Sportsmen's League, the Lehigh Valley Firearms Coalition and four individual plaintiffs.

Michael Slavonic, a board member of the Allegheny County Sportsmen's League, said he was disappointed.

"We think we fought the good fight and I guess the situation is that right now that we have a definitive opinion from the court and we will have to look toward the Legislature for a remedy," Slavonic said.

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OF
October 20, 2004, 08:39 AM
Twisted freaks. What kind of slimy perverted mind could weasel their way through that kind of 'logic' and determine that a registry of gun owners isn't a registry of gun owners?

These justices are tyrants. May they burn in hell for their treason.

- Gabe :fire:

Zrex
October 20, 2004, 09:35 AM
Although the database may be a registry, it is not a registry of firearm ownership ... The database does not maintain a record of all firearms owned by Pennsylvanians, which would include long guns (shotguns and rifles), or firearms that are owned by Pennsylvanians, but not purchased in the Commonwealth

Would any database maintain records of all firearms owned? No? Well then, there is no such thing as a registry of firearm ownership anywhere. Slippery Slope ahead.

geekWithA.45
October 20, 2004, 09:47 AM
GRRRR....

I'm going to have to read the laws on this one.

The PA code isn't exactly consistent in its definition of "firearm", from one section to the next, and you have to take note both of what the operating definition is in the section in question, and any exceptions that are in operation.

There are sections of it where "firearm" is defined as handgun, short barrelled rifle/shotgun, and other sections where firearm includes normal long guns.

There are yet other sections where firearm is defined as per normal, but then at the bottom of the section, it'll say something like "clause A) only applies to handguns, or clause B) shall not be construed to apply to long guns.

What I fear is that this ruling is based on one of those segments where the definition of firearm isn't what everyone thinks it is.

This wouldn't make it RIGHT, of course, but it's possible the judicial ruling is actually consistent with the text of the law.

Beren
October 20, 2004, 10:00 AM
To quote a movie:

"Damn them! Damn them all to hell!"

:cuss: :banghead: :fire:

Guys, it's time we began writing our legislators. Our high court has failed us - our only option is legislative, and it will be darn difficult to accomplish with anti-gun Rendell in office.

We must see to it that the handgun purchasing process in PA is reformed.

AZRickD
October 20, 2004, 10:12 AM
It would be nice to post the particular section of the law here so we can read jus how bad the Court has blown this.

Rick

Hawkmoon
October 20, 2004, 10:19 AM
Twisted freaks. What kind of slimy perverted mind could weasel their way through that kind of 'logic' and determine that a registry of gun owners isn't a registry of gun owners?
A judge.

'Nuff said.

geekWithA.45
October 20, 2004, 10:21 AM
http://members.aol.com/StatutesP7/18PA6106.html

ยง 6111.4. Registration of firearms.

Notwithstanding any section of this chapter to the contrary, nothing in this chapter shall be construed to allow any government or law enforcement agency or any agent thereof to create, maintain or operate any registry of firearm ownership within this Commonwealth. For the purposes of this section only, the term "firearm" shall include any weapon that is designed to or may readily be converted to expel any projectile by the action of an explosive or the frame or receiver of any such weapon.

It's pretty clear to me that this section's applicable definition of firearm means ANY projectile weapon.

Now I'm pissed.

Gonna read this bit about transfer of firearms, and state police, as that might be a "section of this chapter to the contrary"

Henry Bowman
October 20, 2004, 10:25 AM
I was about to :barf: if I read "sportsmen" one more time!

SELF DEFENSE IS NOT A SPORT! :cuss: (Yes, I am yelling.)

geekWithA.45
October 20, 2004, 10:26 AM
Hmmm...I'm still plowing through this...

http://members.aol.com/StatutesP7/18PA6111.html

but it looks like this section makes a confusing set of distinctions between longarms and firearms as defined by 6102, which is

"Firearm." Any pistol or revolver with a barrel length less than 15 inches, any shotgun with a barrel length less than 18 inches or any rifle with a barrel length less than 16 inches, or any pistol, revolver, rifle or shotgun with an overall length of less than 26 inches. The barrel length of a firearm shall be determined by measuring from the muzzle of the barrel to the face of the closed action, bolt or cylinder, whichever is applicable.

Still reading and sorting...

geekWithA.45
October 20, 2004, 11:20 AM
Update:

ARGH!

Depending on how you read the law, it can appear to leave wiggle room for this, in that a great deal of the sections regarding destruction of records seems to apply to long guns. Then you scroll to the bottom, and there's another set of qualifiers.

Definitively sorting it out will require me to do a formal logic table, an excercise I just don't have time for at the moment.

Not having performed that excercise, my instincts, honed by 20 years of reading code tell me that the retention of handgun purchase records is ultimately not lawful. I temper this with the experience of having read BUGGY code for 20 years, which tells me that actual outcomes of the processing is dependent on the actual logic vectors in play, so I could be wrong there.

TheEgg
October 20, 2004, 11:59 AM
It does not matter how the law is written. Many judges don't follow the law anymore. They simply decide what the public policy should be, in their wisdom, and then contort the the decision to fit.

The judicial system is attempting to become the "super-legislature" in this country, and is well on the way to becoming the REAL rulers.

cpileri
October 20, 2004, 12:23 PM
From the desk of Agent Schmuckatelli, ATF

Dear THRers,
We've been able to count on the courts to see things our way for years now. Better luck next time- NOT!
Regards,
Agent S-

Beren
October 20, 2004, 12:52 PM
Next step: research the utility of PA's present laws concerning handgun purchases and transfers.

While I have no problem with background checks prior to the purchase or transfer of a handgun, I have to wonder how often law enforcement has been able to solve a crime based on tracing registry data. Has it /ever/ helped? If it has been of extremely low utility (supposition on my part), then its usefulness would be outweighed by the invasion of privacy it represents.

How much does it cost to operate, both in hard (actual budget) and soft (time buyers spend filling out the state form, etc) costs?

Telperion
October 20, 2004, 01:11 PM
Unbelievable. Judge Castille's quote has to be the most tortuous, disingenuous, and perverse "reasoning" I have seen from any judge, save perhaps Reinhardt in his Silveira decision. Does anything qualify as a prohibited registry now? Beren and Slavonic have the right idea; you guys are going to have fix this legislatively.

Standing Wolf
October 20, 2004, 03:34 PM
One of the few things government consistently does very well is assert the imaginary rights of government against the real rights of individuals.

Turkey Creek
October 20, 2004, 03:42 PM
not surprising considering the oath these idiots take upon assuming office includes- "laws?, we don't need no stinking laws!"- the law is whatever some pompous clown in black sitting at his elevated desk so he can both physically and mentally look down on everone else, says it is-

F4GIB
October 20, 2004, 05:08 PM
Don't ever depend on Judges to save gun owners' rights. Most jodges are "liberal" with regard to guns and willing to pull the most outrageous logical contortions to uphold any law or regulation.

Mikul
October 20, 2004, 09:08 PM
This came up about a year ago, and research was done on the number of crimes that the registry has helped to solve. The number back then was exactly: ONE.

It seems that criminals don't purchase guns legally, and if they do they're not stupid enough to drop them next to the corpse like you see on television.

jefnvk
October 21, 2004, 07:51 PM
You know, if you replace the word 'guns' with 'religion' or 'race' or something of the sort, you'd never hear the end of it.

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