PA: State Law Allows Guns and Knives in School for Lawful Purposes

In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to possess a weapon on school grounds. There are broad exceptions. From 18 Pa.C.S. 912(c):

(c) Defense.–It shall be a defense that the weapon is possessed and used in conjunction with a lawful supervised school activity or course or is possessed for other lawful purpose.

The words are clear. The meaning is plain.  On 16 February, 2017, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania correctly decided to uphold the plain language of the law.  From Commonwealth v. Goslin (pdf):

We conclude that the language of Section 912(c), though broad, is unambiguous, and that Appellant possessed his pocketknife on school grounds for “other lawful purpose.” Therefore, we vacate Appellant’s Judgment of Sentence and order a new trial.4

The Superior Court decision was filed on 16 February, 2017. It did not take long for another law abiding citizen to be saved from the clutches of overzealous bureaucrats: From

Jordan was charged with a single count of possessing a weapon on school property. That charge was withdrawn Friday, however, due to new guidance from the Pennsylvania Superior Court in another case, Commonwealth v. Goslin.

That opinion, filed Feb. 26, stated that carpenter Andrew Goslin brought a work knife with him to a meeting at an elementary school. He was found guilty of possessing a weapon on school property during a bench trial, but appealed the verdict.

The statute provides that “it shall be a defense that the weapon is possessed and used in conjunction with a lawful supervised school activity or course or is possessed for other lawful purpose,” according to the opinion.

Goslin argued on appeal that the trial court misread the statute to require that the “other lawful purpose” must be related to the reason that the possessor is on school property. The Superior Court agreed and vacated the conviction.

Jordan had a legally possessed pistol in his backpack.  He has a valid Pennsylvania concealed carry permit.

The Superintendent of the school, Daniel G.l Nerelli is a typical waffling bureaucrat. He says he supports the Second Amendment… but … In other words, he only supports the Second Amendment when he finds it convenient to do so. From

Whelan said he supports the Second Amendment, but does not agree with the law as written and would raise the issue with local legislators to see if it can be amended.

It is only recently that guns and knives have been considered “forbidden” in schools. They were fairly common in schools when I was growing up. The Federal government started to encourage schools to ban guns in 1990 and 1994. After those bans were put into effect, mass school shootings increased 440%.

Bans on guns and knives in schools do not increase school safety. They are emotionally driven, and have the intention of delegitimizing the exercise of the Second Amendment.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruling in Commonwealth v. Goslin is an appropriate and commonsense step away from eviscerating the rule of law.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included. Gun Watch


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