SAF Sues Pennsylvania Sheriff to Stop Warrantless Searches

The Second Amendment Foundation today filed a challenge of Pennsylvania’s promulgated firearms regulation and its enforcement by the Pennsylvania State Police and Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, which includes warrantless searches.

SAF is joined by Shot Tec, LLC and a private citizen, Grant Schmidt. They are represented by attorneys Joshua Prince and Dillon Harris, Civil Rights Defense Firm, of Bechtelsville, Pa. Defendants are Col. Christopher Paris, commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) and Montgomery County Sheriff Sean Kilkenny, in their official capacities. The action was filed in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.

The petition challenges Col. Paris and the PSP’s “interpretation, implementation and enforcement” of the firearms regulation “which is being enforced” by Kilkenny, according to the court filing. The petition alleges that Sheriff Kilkenny “has implemented a policy…which he contends, based on the PSP’s promulgation and implementation of (the regulation) permit him, in the absence of probable cause and a warrant and in violation of…the Pennsylvania Constitution, to come into those…homes or business.”

Plaintiffs further assert this inspection enables the sheriff to impose sanctions against holders of state licenses to sell firearms “for not having ‘safe storage’” in the event of an emergency when the PSP has “failed to promulgate any regulations addressing what constitute ‘safe storage’ or sufficient safeguards…when the General Assembly only delegated to the PSP the ability to establish such standards.”

“The State Assembly has never enacted a law allowing for warrantless searches of licensees, but the state police promulgated a regulation requiring licensees to submit to such searches, which are now planned by the sheriff’s department,” said SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut. “We believe there are grave constitutional issues involved in this scheme, particularly when an administrative agency simply waives an individual’s constitutional rights by implementing a regulation without any framework from the legislature. Equally troubling is the Sheriff’s assertion that he would revoke a license from and individual asserting their right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures. We have filed this petition to ensure constitutional rights are respected.”

SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb observed, “No statute should allow carte blanche regulations to be imposed by any law enforcement agency because of the inherent danger of overstepping legal authority and constitutional protections which must be protected in a free society. We’re seeking a remedy from the court to stop this, especially when warrantless searches are involved.”