PA Supreme Court: Unconstitutional to ‘Stop-and-Frisk’ For Firearms

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PA Supreme Court: Unconstitutional to ‘Stop-and-Frisk’ For Firearms

HARRISBURG, PA-( Today, the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court issued a significant 53-page majority opinion in the criminal appeal of Commonwealth v. Hicks. Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) and Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF) filed an important coalition amicus brief cited by the Court supporting Hicks in December of 2017, alongside Firearms Owners Against Crime (FOAC) and seven Members of Pensylvannia’s General Assembly. The Court’s decision, concurring opinions, and the FPC/FPF amicus brief can be viewed at

At issue was whether someone’s carrying of a firearm could be used as reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct, and thus justification for police to conduct a “stop-and-frisk” of the gun owner. The court ruled in Hicks that such searches and seizures, in the absence of other evidence are completely unlawful.

The coalition’s brief, which was relied on heavily in the majority opinion, argued that the Pennsylvania and federal constitutions prohibit searches and seizures based on a suspicion of criminal activity due to carrying a firearm. According to the brief, “As protected by the Second and Fourth Amendments to the United States Constitution and the Pennsylvania Constitution . . . the mere open or conceal carrying of a firearm cannot establish reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal conduct, in the absence of additional indications of unlawful activity.”

The Court agreed, noting “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.”

“Hicks’ position is supported by several amici curiae, including Members of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, Firearms Owners Against Crime, the Firearms Policy Coalition, and the Firearms Policy Foundation. Hicks’ amici argue that the Robinson rule is contrary to this Court’s precedent and to the general teachings of the Supreme Court of the United States’ Fourth Amendment jurisprudence. Amici further point to numerous decisions of the courts of other states and federal appellate courts that have addressed the specific question at issue here, and which have held that mere possession of a concealed firearm provides no basis for an investigative detention,” Supreme Court Justice Wecht wrote for the majority.

FPC President and FPF Chairman Brandon Combs hailed the decision. “Stop-and-frisk practices that harass gun owners who carry for lawful purposes including self-defense, like the one at the core of this case, are unconstitutional, bad public policy, and dangerous,” explained Combs. “We are thrilled that the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania agreed with these fundamental principles and issued such an incredibly positive decision in favor of constitutional rights.”

Kim Stolfer, president of FOAC, was also delighted with the ruling. “We are thrilled to have participated in this case. The Commonwealth’s position, that the ‘mere sight’ of a firearm, with no criminal act, ‘justifies’ arrest and detention at gunpoint, is constitutionally repugnant and unjustified. Today the Court rightly held as much.”

Joshua Prince, author of the coalition’s brief, said that “the Court, in dismissing the Commonwealth’s position, declared that to permit investigative detention solely to determine whether someone is properly licensed is ‘ultimately untenable, because it would allow a manifestly unacceptable range of ordinary activity to, by itself, justify Terry stops.’”

“This ruling rightly puts an end to abusive, non-justifiable searches of law-abiding gun owners, and it should be relished by all those who support the fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution,” Prince concluded.

About the Firearms Policy CoalitionFirearms Policy Coalition

Firearms Policy Coalition ( is a 501(c)4 grassroots nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

About the Firearms Policy FoundationFirearms Policy Foundation logo

Firearms Policy Foundation ( is a 501(c)3 grassroots nonprofit organization. FPF’s mission is to defend the Constitution of the United States and the People’s rights, privileges and immunities deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition, especially the inalienable, fundamental, and individual right to keep and bear arms.

  • 18 thoughts on “PA Supreme Court: Unconstitutional to ‘Stop-and-Frisk’ For Firearms

    1. Trump is at rally in Penn. right now and could not frisk & confiscate.
      Poetic justice man I’m loving it!
      GOD works in mysterious ways but not really It’s pretty clear he’s working Trump (bullshiter) over today in Penn.

    2. Trump wont like this ruling. He loves stop and frisk for guns with no probable cause, endorses it. Is on record requesting it. Also on record saying he will never take Americas guns away.
      Indians say “white man speak with forked tongue” and who would know better?
      Trump knows how to work The People that’s for sure.

        1. No he is not sir. Trump unconstitutionally banned bumpfire stocks, and has openly said that be doesn’t like suppressors,which neither one are even firearms, but are still covered under the Ninth Amendment. Trump is as bad as Ronald Reagan, who stripped 320 million law abiding citizens the Right to possess and own machine guns, by signing the FOPA and Hughes Act into law! It too is unconstitutional!

    3. this is good news and let’s hope it spreads across the nation…we’ve lost enough rights already

    4. Maybe this will cause Trump to go on a twitter rampage, since he wants nationwide stop and frisk? Perhaps he can sanction PA or put tariffs on their industries for their bad, bad behavior?

      1. He could flood them with his weaponized illegals then pay them to harbor them. That will teach them a lesson. Lol.

    5. In PA, open carry without a license is legal, but you need a CCW to carry concealed. So if you are carrying concealed without a CCW that’s a crime. But a cop who suspects you’re carrying concealed without a CCW can’t frisk you because he has no grounds to suspect you’ve committed a crime… So what we have here amounts to defacto constitutional carry.
      Just make sure it’s well concealed and you’re good to go.

      1. Here in Cabalorado concealed carry permits are used as evidence of firearm possession for Red Flag confiscation all of which is entirely unconstitutional. Gov can’t force anybody to present evidence against one’s self therefore defacto null & void on carry permits for confiscation. UN mandates prescribe gun control laws including permits and registrations for UN disarmament & confiscation.
        Yep, that’s right gun control is UN mandated disarmament aka a foreign invasion and cops been disarming you for a foreign gov outside USA aka world government aka Vatican/Muslim takeover of USA.

      2. Always post proper info when discussing gun laws. Your first sentence must include the caveat, “except in Philadelphia”. You MUST have a CCW if you open carry in Phila.. Not knowing that info can get you in a lot of trouble.

    6. 1. sounds like the creaking of the door opening for stealth Constitutional carry ( if you don’t do anything stupid or evil and are packing cops can’t ask for your license) if this is taken to SCOTUS.

      2. If “Officer Friendly” cannot articulate a reason to stop somebody either their behavior is 100% righteous or “Officer Friendly” is not trying or incompetent.

      1. Even if they saw your gun poke out asking for your license would be equivalent to sitting in your car at the grocery store and having them come up and ask for your license and if they did so then did they ask every other person or just you? If only you then you must be under investigation of a crime that they have to reasonably articulate. The mere sight of a legal item is hardly evidence of a crime. Problem is that most bootlickers give themselves up due to not knowing their rights and falling for the authoritarian line of bullshit cops blow up your ass on contact making bootlickers their own worst enemy when they fall for that crap. Don’t be a criminal and don’t rat yourselves out because your commanded to do so.

        1. Then why don’t YOU become a police officer and show us all how it SHOULD be done? Put up or shut up.

    7. This is good news, but it’s also depressing. The state went ahead and ordered its police to do this, knowing it would be challenged, but hoping activist judges would validate it. That’s such cynical and immoral behavior, there should be some punishment to discourage it. But there won’t be and wanna be demi-despots will keep abusing citizens and squandering taxpayer dollars.

      1. ” . . . but hoping activist judges would validate it.” No, hoping activist judges would VIOLATE it. Cramming your vile, criminal, unconstitutional, socialist agenda down the throat of the people does not “validate” (make or prove to be valid) anything!!

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