Today, Chief Counsel Joshua Prince of the Firearms Industry Consulting Group and Attorney Adam Kraut, Director of Legal Strategy at Firearms Policy Coalition, were successful in the case of Landmark Firearms, LLC, et al. v. Evanchick, 694 M.D. 2019, in obtaining an injunction against the Pennsylvania State Police’s implementation and enforcement of its “policy” regarding what it refers to both as “partially-manufactured frames and receivers” and “80% receivers.”
In a 17 page decision, Commonwealth Court Judge Kevin Brobson found that the Pennsylvania State Police, in implementing and enforcing its policy, violated the due process rights of Pennsylvania residents and businesses, as well as, businesses from other states. Specifically, the Court declared
With respect to Petitioners’ due process claim in Count III and their claim in Count IV that the PSP Letter is void on the ground of vagueness, however, the Court concludes Petitioners have demonstrated a substantial legal question.
The Court continued on to specifically declare
The Court agrees with Petitioners that there is a substantial legal question as to whether PSP’s new policy regarding partially manufactured receivers is impermissibly vague.
As the Court explained
The term frame or receiver is not defined in the UFA, PSP has not promulgated any regulations to define what constitutes a frame or receiver, and PSP is no longer following the ATF’s lead regarding what constitutes the frame or receiver of a weapon. Rather than clarify, the new PSP policy adds confusion by introducing a new term” partially manufactured receiver”-and a new form-Form SP 4-121-into the mix of gun regulations without an explanatory bridge tying them back to the UFA.
Guidance to the firearms industry and the public on this change in policy is critical. The only document that currently sets forth PSP’s change in interpretation is the PSP Letter. That letter merely sets forth the blanket statement that partially manufactured receivers are considered firearms with respect to certain sections of the UFA, without providing a definition of the term partially manufactured receiver; a description or examples of the products that PSP believes, under its new interpretation, fall within the sweep of the statutory definition of firearm; or any guidance as to how this new term will be interpreted and applied by PSP going forward. The mere mention of the AG Opinion is not enough to provide fair notice or warning to the public as to how sellers or purchasers of this undefined class of unfinished receivers may comply with the UFA and avoid criminal prosecution. Due process demands more.
All of this-(1) PSP’s failure to explain how its new policy on partially manufactured frames or receivers differs from its prior policy and that of the ATF, such that those subject to the UFA have fair notice of PSP’s change in policy; (2) PSP’s failure to tether its new policy to the text of the UFA, particularly the term “frame or receiver” in the relevant definition of firearm; (3) the introduction of a new term, partially manufactured receiver, as opposed to simply defining what a “frame or receiver” is under the UFA as including what PSP now seeks to capture; and ( 4) the deployment of a new form to be used with respect only to sales/transfers of a subclass of firearms, which lacks any level of specificity, where PSP regulations provide for a specific form to be used in all firearms transactions under the UFA sows confusion within the industry and the public.
Thereafter, the Court acknowledged that the PSP’s “Policy” constitutes per se irreparable harm, that an injunction returns the parties to the status quo, and that the “public policy of this Commonwealth does not favor such vague laws.”
As such, the Court issued the following Order:
AND NOW, this 31st day of January, 2020, Petitioners’ Application for Relief in the Nature of a Preliminary Injunction is GRANTED. Colonel Robert Evanchick, Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), and his agents, servants and officers, are enjoined from implementing or enforcing PSP’s new policy addressed to partially manufactured receivers, as currently set forth in PSP’s Letter of January 9, 2020, until final disposition of the Petition for Review, including appeals.
As specified in the Order, the preliminary injunction will not issue until we pay a $100.00 cost bond, which will be paid on Monday.