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Guns in Government Parks and Buildings

John E. D. Larkin


Section 6120 of Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act prohibits counties and municipalities from ‘regulating’ firearms. On the basis of this restriction, special interest groups have begun an assault on gun-bans in local parks and town- halls, arguing that rules prohibiting guns in children’s playgrounds and in government buildings constitute impermissible ‘regulation.’ Because of the statutory provision that awards successful citizen-litigants their attorneys’ fees, cash- strapped municipal governments have been reluctant to defend their policies and, as a result, there is little case law defining the ambit of permissible municipal rule-making. This Article argues that, on the basis of nearly identical provisions in Pennsylvania’s Game Law (which prohibits municipal ‘regulation’ of hunting,) a municipal government does not impermissibly ‘regulate’ unless its rules apply equally throughout the municipal jurisdiction. Instead, this Article suggests that municipalities have the same rights as private landowners to promulgate rules for invitees on government-owned property.

John “Jack” Larkin is a member of Gawthrop Greenwood’s litigation and criminal law departments. Civilly, Jack focuses his practice on financial and insurance matters. He leads the firm’s criminal department, where he offers clients the benefit of his experience as a former prosecutor. His published works have appeared in law journals at the Georgetown University School of Law, Vanderbilt Law School, the University of Florida Law School, and the American Journal of Trial Advocacy, as well as in the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Bar Quarterly and At Issue publications.

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