Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted allowance (which means they’ve agreed to hear the merits) on a case with implications for concealed carriers. The issue (PDF), as stated by the Court, is as follows:
Whether the Superior Court’s bright line rule holding that possession of a concealed firearm in public is sufficient to create reasonable suspicion is a matter of such substantial public importance as to require prompt and definitive resolution by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court?
The Court is reviewing an unpublished (meaning, holds no precedential value) opinion (PDF) by the Superior Court affirming a trial court’s order denying a motion to suppress contesting whether Allentown Police Officers had reasonable suspicion to detain an individual solely because he was seen concealing a firearm under his shirt. The interesting thing with the Hicks case (unlike a lot of these) is that Hicks was legally carrying concealed and he was doing so in a high crime area. The Superior Court affirmed the trial court’s denial of Hicks’ motion to suppress evidence based on fairly well established precedent holding that “possession of a concealed firearm in public is sufficient to create a reasonable suspicion that the individual may be dangerous, such that an officer can approach the individual and briefly detain him in order to investigate whether the person is properly licensed.” See Commonwealth v. Mason, 130 A.3d 148 (Pa. Super 2015). While Pennsylvania is not presently a “Constitutional Carry” state, the notion that one is presumed to be dangerous simply because he is carrying concealed should still rub lawful gun owners the wrong way.
There are ample other indices of dangerousness that police use in order to establish reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot. With the increased number of citizens lawfully carrying, this case may have significant implications for law-abiding gun owners.Tags: 4th amendment, allowance, concealed carry, detention, law, Pennsylvania Supreme Court, reasonable suspicion, search, seizure