Thomas Gallatin / June 6, 2019

Court Reaffirms 2A and 4A Rights

Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court says police violated a man’s rights because he lawfully possessed a firearm.

In Commonwealth v. Hicks, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed with a defendant who argued that his Fourth Amendment rights were violated by law enforcement due to his legal exercise of his Second Amendment rights. Essentially, the court recognized that lawful possession of a firearm does not revoke a citizen’s other rights — specifically in this case an individual’s rights against unreasonable search and seizure.

In the case, the defendant legally possessed a conceal carry permit, but he was spotted outside a convenience store showing his firearm to another individual, not in a threatening manner. An observer notified the police who then responded to the call, restrained Mr. Hicks and conducted a search of his person and his vehicle. They smelled alcohol and found a small bag of marijuana and subsequently arrested him for driving under the influence and disorderly conduct.

The court in its ruling correctly concluded, “Unless a police officer has prior knowledge that a specific individual is not permitted to carry a concealed firearm, and absent articulable facts supporting reasonable suspicion that a firearm is being used or intended to be used in a criminal manner, there simply is no justification for the conclusion that the mere possession of a firearm, where it lawfully may be carried, is alone suggestive of criminal activity.”

National Review’s David French notes, “This is exactly correct, and it’s buttressed by the plain constitutional truth that there exists ‘a first principle that lies at the heart of the Fourth Amendment — that the government may not target and seize specific individuals without any particular suspicion of wrongdoing, then force them to prove that they are not committing crimes.’”

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