EBENSBURG – A Cambria County man who is facing a $1,200 bill before he can collect 306 rifles and shotguns, confiscated from his home in March, is fighting back.
An attorney for the man has filed an appeal in Cambria County to a judge’s order that the man pay the cost incurred in confiscating the guns. The attorney simultaneously filed an appeal to the confiscation change with the state Superior Court.
In documents filed at the Cambria County Prothonotary’s office, the attorney argued that his client is being denied his right to own and bear arms because his guns were confiscated and their return will come only after he comes up with money.
“(The gun owner) contends that fees cannot be assessed against him, as the Pennsylvania General Assembly has prohibited any such assessment,” according to the appeal.
Joshua Prince, a Berks County attorney who specializes in second amendments rights, and who is active with the National Rifle Association, is now representing the man.
The appeal continues: “The defendant shall not be required to pay any fees, costs or charges associated with the returns (relating to relinquishment of firearms pursuant to a PFA) whether those fees, costs or charges are imposed by the Pennsylvania State Police, any local law enforcement agency or any other equity.”
The issue started more than a month ago when a woman the man was allegedly living with sought and was granted a temporary protection from abuse order.
Because of the PFA, The Tribune-Democrat has not identified either the man or the woman involved in the case.
The woman told a judge about a cache of guns the man had and allegedly reported that some of them were stolen.
Following procedures, the sheriff’s department was ordered by the court to remove the guns from the home. This was done after regular work hours, when the man was home.
A half dozen deputies were needed to document the make, model and serial number of each of the guns. The firearms were hauled back to the courthouse in a rental trailer and off-loaded the next day.
At a subsequent hearing when the man and the woman presented their cases to a judge, it was ordered that the temporary PFA be vacated.
A sheriff’s deputy spent a day checking each of the guns taken and it was determined that the man was in legal possession of each one.
The man is objecting to paying the $1,200 cost of confiscation.
Prince said through his spokesman Tuesday said that he will not comment on the case, citing attorney-client privilege.
Court documents indicate that Prince set out to file an appeal to the Cambria County order regarding the $1,200.
But as the 30-day appeal deadline approached, Prince grew concerned because the gun owner was in the hospital and unavailable to proceed with the appeal.
Acting in what Prince termed “an abundance of caution,” he proceeded with the appeal to the Cambria court and filed a similar appeal with the state Superior Court regarding the confiscation fee.
Legal experts Tuesday said the state appeals court likely will send the case back to Cambria County for resolution of the appeal.
The county court can take testimony while the state Superior Court must rely solely on the record, the experts said.