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COMMONWEALTH v. WALKER (06/22/71)

SUPERIOR COURT OF PENNSYLVANIA


decided: June 22, 1971.

COMMONWEALTH
v.
WALKER, APPELLANT

Appeals from judgments of sentences of Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division, of Philadelphia, May T., 1969, No. 554, and June T., 1969, No. 484, in case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Albert Walker.

COUNSEL

Samuel Kagle, for appellant.

Milton M. Stein, Assistant District Attorney, with him James D. Crawford, Deputy District Attorney, Richard A. Sprague, First Assistant District Attorney, and Arlen Specter, District Attorney, for Commonwealth, appellee.

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, and Cercone, JJ. Opinion by Hoffman, J.

Author: Hoffman

[ 219 Pa. Super. Page 168]

The essential facts in this case are undisputed. Testimony at trial showed that appellant was verbally taunted by a number of children. He responded by pulling a revolver from the trunk of his automobile, pointing it at the children and their mother, and threatening to "blow their heads off." The mother rushed to call the police. Appellant began to walk away, and a few minutes later the police arrived. He was arrested proximate to the scene of the offense, and the arresting officer removed an unregistered revolver from under appellant's shirt.

Appellant was found guilty by a jury of (1) having an unlicensed firearm in a vehicle, and (2) carrying the same unlicensed firearm concealed on his person, all in violation of section (e) of the Uniform Firearms Act.*fn1 He was sentenced to one year on the first indictment and to one-and-a-half to three years on the second

[ 219 Pa. Super. Page 169]

    bill, the sentences to be consecutive. From judgment of sentence this appeal followed.

Appellant contends that his separate convictions are illegal because he has been punished twice for what was essentially one offense. We agree. The offense defined by the Act is carrying a firearm without a license except in one's own place of business or abode. The essence of the offense is the "concealed carrying" of a weapon, whether it is in a vehicle or on the person.*fn2 The means by which the gun is transported -- car or person -- is only detail to describe the method of concealment in which the gun is carried.

Under the Commonwealth's interpretation of the statute a defendant who carried a gun in his car would become liable for separate conviction and punishment as soon as he stepped out of the vehicle. The result of such a theory is the multiplication of offenses arising from one transaction for the purpose of pyramiding punishment. "Penal statutes must be strictly construed but construed with common sense." Commonwealth v. Paul, 177 Pa. Superior Ct. 289, 292, 111 A.2d 374, 375 (1955). We cannot assume the legislature intended such an unusual result which offends the common sense dictates of reason. If the legislature intended to separately punish concealment of a gun in a vehicle or on the person in what was essentially the same event, it would have been simple to make this desire explicit.

[ 219 Pa. Super. Page 170]

Appellant was guilty of only one offense of carrying a concealed unlicensed firearm. Accordingly, the judgment of sentence is vacated and the matter is remanded for resentencing consistent with this opinion.

Disposition

Judgment of sentence vacated and matter remanded.


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