PITTSBURGH, PA –-(Ammoland.com)- When Joe Biden took office, he asked all the Trump-appointed United States Attorneys to resign. Most did, including United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania Scott Bradly.
With the resignation of Bradly, Biden appointed Stephen R. Kaufman to be the Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Kaufman has a history of prosecuting La Cosa Nostra members, but now he is turning his attention to disarming law-abiding citizens of the Pittsburgh suburbs.
Some people traveling will accidentally bring a firearm or firearm part to an airport checkpoint during the year. Kaufman has asked local Pennsylvania sheriffs to revoke the license to carry a firearm (LTCF) of anyone that accidentally brings a gun to an airport checkpoint. This action isn’t a jailable offense unless the person carrying the firearm has criminal intent. The violator will have to pay a civil penalty of $3,000 to $14,000 for a loaded gun and $1,500 to $2,475 for an unloaded firearm, respectively.
Although it is wise to have separate range bags and travel bags, not everyone uses different bags. The traveler can easily overlook a part of a firearm or a pistol itself. It is a costly mistake, but not one that should cost someone their rights. Until now, it didn’t cost someone their rights.
Kaufman even acknowledges this by stating: “[t]he United States Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the Allegheny County Police and TSA currently review every incident in which TSA screeners discover a gun during security screening at the airport checkpoint. Almost inevitably, the passenger being interviewed claims that they forgot that the gun was in their bag and no criminal charges are filed.”
According to Pennsylvania law, Sheriffs in the Keystone State can revoke someone’s LTCF for “good cause.” The law says that “character and reputation” issues can be cause for revoking an LTCF. If the state convicted someone of a crime in the past and they have criminal ties, a Sheriff can legally deny someone their right to carry a gun under Pennsylvania law.
Nowhere in the law does it state that having to pay a civil fine disqualifies someone from having an LTCF. Gun rights advocates worry that if a civil penalty can remove someone’s LTCF, a speeding ticket can disqualify someone from legally carrying a firearm under PA law.
According to the United States Attorney, the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Department happily agreed with Kaufman’s request. The law enforcement office started to revoke gun owners’ carry licenses. Allegheny County covers the city of Pittsburgh, which is the biggest city in Western Pennsylvania.
Enforcing the request could be legally dubious, according to Gun Owners of America. The gun-rights organization sent a letter to Allegheny Sheriff William Mullen demanding that the department not violate Pennsylvania law by enforcing Kaufman’s request. According to GOA State Director, Dr. Val Finnell said GOA is ready to fight back and spare expense to stop what the group sees as an infringement of the people’s right to bear arms.
“This isn’t a crime, pure and simple,” said Dr. Finnell. “There is no statutory authority for the Sheriff of Allegheny County or any other Pennsylvania sheriff to revoke an LTCF for inadvertently taking your firearm through airport security.”
Pennsylvania is a right to carry state, but if the Sheriffs can disqualify a gun owner for any offense, many in the gun community would argue that Pennsylvania is a may-issue state.
The Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to AmmoLand’s request for comment.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, or at www.crumpy.com.