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Dickson City, PA police demand "papers"/sieze arms

gnbrotzgnbrotz Member Posts: 8 ✭✭
Dickson City, PA police demand "papers"/take arms
FYI below - be prepared to rally outside the Dickson City. PA police department later this week for a "FREE RICH's GUN PROtest"

************************************************************ Press Release - May 10, 2008
Sieg Heil! Dickson City, PA police demand gun owners' "identity papers" & conduct Katrina style gun confiscation!

Gun owners to demand Habeas Arma!

It looks like the Dickson City (a borough in Lackawanna County, PA) police and Lackawanna County District Attorney have erected a "new order" in Pennsylvania - one where citizens must present their identity papers and give up their guns to police on demand.

Or, maybe Dickson's finest are just trying to borrow a page from the play book of their bros' in blue from the City of Brotherly love. . . [1]

The facts[2]

The facts are simple and not in dispute - a few folks, including families with small children, met up for dinner at the Old Country Buffet on Friday, May 9.[3] Apparently a customer called the police to report that some of these people were openly carrying handguns. Next thing you know, Dickson City Patrolman Tony Mariano and female Officer Gallagher rolled up and proceeded to roust everyone away from their dinners, demanded identity documents from anyone they saw openly carrying guns, and seized the guns for some sort of Orwellian "serial number check."

When Luzerne County resident Rich Banks[4] and his wife Judy went over to the police and asked them what was going on, the police threatened to arrest Judy unless she turned off her camcorder, and then unlawfully arrested Rich when he declined to show identification[5] - Rich was then searched and placed in cuffs in a squad car.[6] Rich's 6 year old son was upset and crying and several of the women in the party became nearly hysterical.[7]

For some time thereafter, squad cars full of police from the city of Scranton and Lackawanna County rolled up to assist in the illegal detention, ID checks, and serial number gun checks of these law abiding citizens just trying to eat dinner together.

Police start to get nervous

But something was wrong - Banks could see officers from the various jurisdictions franticly making cell phone calls and talking to each other - after a while, Officer Gallagher, the mean spirited officer in charge, who told Rich's wife she did not want to be filmed because she might want to go back to "under cover work some day," came over to Rich and said they were going to go easy on him and release him. But . . . Gallagher said he could not get his gun back until he "proved ownership" because there was no record of his gun in police records. Mr. Banks - a "gun smith" with a federal gun dealer license - explained to Gallagher that her seizure, arrest, and search of his person was unlawful and demanded his property be returned immediately because there was no more reason he had to prove he owned the gun than to prove he owned the TV in his house. Retorted an angry Gallagher, "I heard enough from you tonight!," slamming the squad door in a huff.

Incredibly, officer Gallagher then claimed to have contacted unknown elements of the Lackawanna District Attorney's office which allegedly ordered her not to return Banks' gun until he "proved ownership." Banks demanded a receipt from the police - so they wrote a note (attached, with serial number redacted).

So that's the story - a bunch of police, acting like thugs, unlawfully roust and harass gun owners and their families for the crime of obeying the law - and then drive away after stealing a gun.

Police look for cover from restaurant management

As the police began winding down their Kafkaesque theater act, one of the officers asked the Old Country Buffett manager on duty if he "had any problems" with the group remaining at the restaurant. The manager responded laconically that "we had no problems `till you showed up."

The law:

It's pretty simple actually. Pennsylvania is like most states. There is no gun registration, and, generally, anyone 18 years of age or over can openly carry a handgun on foot without any license to do so, even while eating dinner.[9] As a constitutional matter, a mere 911 call reporting a "man with a gun" does not allow the police to detain or search anyone.[10] And while it is true that the Pennsylvania State Police maintain a handgun sales database consisting of information reported to them by Pennsylvania gun dealers,[11] it is not a crime to own or carry a gun not listed in the database which only consists of guns transferred through Pennsylvania gun dealers anyway.[12] And the police have no power to confiscate personal property for failure to carry proof of ownership.

What's next?

Habeas Arma! calls on the Lackawanna County District Attorney to order Mr. Banks gun returned to him immediately without any further demands for "proof of ownership," whatever that is supposed to mean.

Further, we call for the suspension and prosecution of Patrolman Mariano and Officer Gallagher and any member of the Lackawanna District Attorney's office involved in this travesty for violations of civil rights under federal and Pennsylvania law, including Pennsylvania's "Official Oppression statute."[13]

Finally, Dickson City Police Chief William Stadnitski had better get his Department under control such that no officer ever treat guns like "contraband" or gun owners like second class citizens. And it looks like the Chief knows his officers' were out of control - this incident has not been posted to his Daily Activity report at[14]

John Pierce/Mike Stollenwerk

Contact anytime on gun stories:
Mike Stollenwerk

Mr. Stollenwerk is a lifelong legal resident of Lancaster County, PA. In 2006, Stollenwerk prevailed in a federal lawsuit against the Pennsylvania State Police to quash their unlawful demands for social security number disclosure from gun purchasers and License to Carry Firearms applicants. Stollenwerk v. Miller, 2006 WL 463393 (E.D. Pa. 2006).
John Pierce
Mr. Pierce is an IT professional and works for an Allentown, PA area firm.
A national pro-gun Internet community with more than 5,800 registered
News media reports citing's perspective:

[1] See Patrick Walters, Philadelphia Police Caught Beating Suspects, Associated Press, May 7, 2008, available with video at

[2] Assembled from's very reliable members who witnessed this debacle first hand.

[3] See discussion thread at
Click here for thread
- at first this thread was just a way to talk about an upcoming social event - at page 15, it became a thread to talk about police misconduct and the thread's name was then changed.

[4] Mr. Banks is the owner of Frontline Armory,

[5] Pennsylvania has no "stop and ID" statute. Further, the United States Supreme Court has struck down state statutes requiring anyone to carry ID credentials. Kolender v. Lawson, 461 U.S. 352 (1983). And last month the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals held that an officer arresting someone for merely refusing to show identification is not due qualified immunity in a civil lawsuit. Stufflebeam v. Harris, 521 F.3d 884 (8th Cir. 2008). See also Rob Moritz, Fed appeals court says motorist's refusal to give police his name is no cause for arrest, Ark. News Bureau, April 5, 2008, available at

The story is a bit more complex - by this point, the police realized they were in the wrong generally and proceeded to back down. The police told one man he could not get his gun back because it was not "registered to him" but to his wife. The man told the police there was no registration in Pennsylvania and that Pennsylvania law does not require handgun transfers between family members to be conducted through dealer checks and record keeping anyway. The police handed the gun to the wife and walked away. Another man, who happened to have a License to Carry Firearms (required to "conceal" handguns in Pennsylvania) flat out told the police "you're not taking my gun or running the serial number," and the police quickly backed off.

[9] Commonwealth v. Hawkins, 692 A.2d 1068, n.4 (Pa. 1997) ("In all parts of Pennsylvania, persons who are licensed may carry concealed. 18 Pa.C.S. ? 6108. Except in Philadelphia, firearms may be carried openly without a license."). Interestingly, on the same day as Bank's arrest and theft of his gun by police, the Associated Press reported that gun carry in restaurants is becoming pretty ho hum. Mathew Barakat, Guns in restaurants draw stares but little outcry, Associated Press, May 9, 2008, available at

[10] Florida v. J.L., 529 U.S. 266 (2000).

[11] Only 13 other states are like Pennsylvania which generally bans the private **transfers** of handguns, see, but it is not a crime to move into Pennsylvania with a handgun, or transfer a handgun to a family members without going through a dealer - and so besides the point that the police have no lawful authority to seize guns and check their serial numbers against the PSP handgun transfer database, the fact that the handgun is not listed in the data base, or not associated with the person carrying the handgun is completely irrelevant. Regardless, it's not a crime to **receive** a handgun in a private transfer under Pennsylvania law.

[12] Obviously the Dickson City and the Lackawanna District Attorney either don't know the law, or are purposefully violating the law.

[13] 18 Pa.C.S.A. ? 5301 ("Official oppression") provides that "[a] person acting or purporting to act in an official capacity or taking advantage of such actual or purported capacity commits a misdemeanor of the second degree if, knowing that his conduct is illegal, he: (1) subjects another to arrest, detention, search, seizure, mistreatment, dispossession, assessment, lien or other infringement of personal or property rights; or (2) denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power or immunity. See also Matt Miller, Constable charged with official oppression, Mid State News, April 3, 2008, available at

[14] I wonder what the report will say, if it is ever posted - maybe something like, "To Old Country Buffet on a call about families eating out while some adults carrying holstered side arms. Police harassed a group of law abiding citizens for over an hour, and stole one gun from a man who would not keep his mouth shut."

Edited ONLY to shorten link.


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    n/an/a Member Posts: 168,427
    edited November -1
    Welcome to the Toltarian States of Amerika!
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    gunphreakgunphreak Member Posts: 1,791 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Sounds like it is time for the Dickson City Militia to kill the tyrants in the SS, then!!!

    Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum, mother $%^&ers!!!
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    ruger41ruger41 Member Posts: 14,663 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    We have open carry here in WA too--and it has caused some folks some hassles with LEO's who simply don't know the law. If one is going to open carry-I would HIGHLY recommend they carry with them a copy of their state statute which says they are allowed to do it to hand over to a nimrod officer. Just because WE know our state and national Constitutions & Bills of Rights state we can, does not mean other individuals know or belive it. Kinda tells you how stupid some people are to "call in a man with a gun" who has a holstered firearm--it's not some gangbanger with a pistol stuck in his waistband or someone brandishing a weapon but thats par for the course with the American Idol crowd we have today.
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    Dangerous TDangerous T Member Posts: 119 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by freemind
    Welcome to the Toltarian States of Amerika!

    American "heroes" in action. Police = Gestapo. Get it throught your heads. Oh, and thank GW Bush for it while you are at it.
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