On Friday, a Commonwealth Court panel ruled 2-1 to overturn a lower court’s decision and grant a gun rights group an injunction against carrying firearms in area parks. The Court said that the case has merit and issued a preliminary injunction against the city enforcing its local ban in Lower Merion Township, a 60,000 resident suburb of Philadelphia.
The majority of the panel believed that the bigger question of if the town violated state preemption laws regarding the lawful possession or transportation of firearms. Because they believed the answer was yes, they granted the injunction.
Judge Patricia A. McCullough for the majority that included Judge Renee Cohn Jubelirer wrote, “Thus, we conclude that greater injury would result from refusing an injunction than granting it because refusing an injunction would sanction the Township’s continued statutory violations.”
The third panelist, Senior Judge Dan Pellegrini dissented in the ruling, arguing the city has legal authority to bar guns on property under its control. Pellegrini wrote, “The net result of the majority not following our case law is something that the General Assembly never intended, that a local government must permit guns in and on property that it owns, including its recreation centers, ball fields, daycare centers and libraries, not to mention county offices in the courthouse, in its police department, at its jail, in its council chambers, in its mayor’s office and so on.”
It was Firearm Owners Against Crime that brought the case over Lower Merion’s 2011 law against carrying or discharging firearms on town-owned recreational property under threat of a $600 fine. The Second Amendment group and an area resident filed suit in 2015 against the town in Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas and was denied an injunction, setting the stage for the appeal to the Commonwealth Court.
FOAC President Kim Stolfer said, “For two years FOAC has worked incessantly to stop violations of gun owners’ rights by arrogant local communities which have enacted anti-gun and unconstitutional laws on firearms ownership. These local laws are crimes just like Burglary and Assault and should be handled as such but District Attorneys shirk their duty to enforce the law.”