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UNITED STATES v. WILLIAMS

March 4, 1982

UNITED STATES of America
v.
David WILLIAMS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRODERICK

MEMORANDUM

Defendant David Williams (Williams) has appealed from an Order of the Magistrate refusing to return to Williams a handgun which was taken from him in the United States Courthouse in Philadelphia until Williams complies with the conditions set forth in the Magistrate's Order. Williams was tried before the Magistrate and was acquitted of charges that he knowingly violated 41 C.F.R. § 101-20.313 which prohibits the possession of firearms on federal premises by those not engaged in official business. Williams contends that since he was acquitted of the misdemeanor charged, he is entitled to the return of his handgun without fulfilling the conditions imposed by the Magistrate. For the reasons hereinafter set forth, the Court will affirm the Magistrate's Order.

 On August 26, 1981, Williams entered the United States Courthouse in Philadelphia with a handgun and sought to pass a security point equipped with a metal detector. Williams informed an officer of the Federal Protective Service that the satchel he was carrying contained a handgun. The officer asked Williams to produce his license to carry the firearm. A license is required by 18 Pa.C.S.A. §§ 6106, 6108 unless the possessor of the weapon meets certain exceptions, none of which permit an unlicensed person to carry a firearm on federal property.

 When Williams failed to produce a license to carry the gun, the officer inquired of the Department of License and Inspection of the City of Philadelphia whether Williams was licensed to carry the weapon. The Department informed the officer that Williams had no license. Thereupon the officer took possession of the weapon and cited Williams for a violation of 41 C.F.R. § 101-20.313 which prohibits possession of firearms on federal premises except for official purposes. Violation of this section constitutes a misdemeanor; maximum punishment for the offense is a $ 50 fine and 30 days in jail (41 C.F.R. § 101-20.315).

 On September 28, 1981, Williams was tried before United States Magistrate Richard A. Powers. Magistrate Powers acquitted Williams of the alleged violation of 41 C.F.R. § 101-20.313, finding that the notice of the regulation posted at the entrance of the Courthouse was inadequate. Since that decision, the Federal Protective Service has placed a more prominent sign describing the prohibition of 41 C.F.R. § 101-20.313 at the entrance to the Courthouse.

 During the trial, Williams acknowledged that the handgun was not licensed and that he resided in Philadelphia. He also stated that he had attempted to qualify for a license more than two years ago but had failed the range tests that an applicant must pass in order to obtain a license to carry a weapon. His defense was that he did not know that it was a crime to take the gun into the Courthouse and that, since he was not carrying the gun on his person, he was not in violation of the state license requirements.

 At trial, Williams also stated that he acquired the gun for his personal protection at his place of employment, Century Parking Garage, 249 South 6th Street, Philadelphia, owned and managed by one Martin Weinberg. Williams stated that, as an attendant at the garage, he was responsible for large sums of money during the course of his employment.

 After trial, Williams filed a petition for return of the gun, a .25 Bereta Jeffire, which has remained in the custody of the Federal Protective Service since August 29, 1981. Magistrate Powers held a hearing on this request on December 10, 1981. That day, Magistrate Powers entered an Order granting Williams' request upon the following conditions:

 
1. Martin Weinberg, the defendant's employer, must file an affidavit with the Court verifying the testimony of Mr. Williams as to his duties and that he, Martin Weinberg, requires the weapon for protection of the funds on the premises of his parking facility, and that Mr. Williams, in his duties, should be protected by possessing the weapon.
 
2. The weapon is to remain on the premises except when Mr. Williams again takes the licensing test which should be done as soon as possible. Mr. Weinberg will insure that defendant does take the test and advise the Court accordingly within thirty (30) days of the date that defendant is qualified.
 
3. The weapon will be returned provided Mr. Weinberg appears personally at the office of the Federal Protective Service with Mr. Williams and accepts possession of the weapon for him and returns it to the garage.

 Title 18 of the Consolidated Statutes of Pennsylvania, Section 6106 states:

 
No person shall carry a firearm in any vehicle or concealed on or about his person, except in his place of abode or fixed place of business, without a license therefor....

 Several exceptions to this statute are listed in 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 6106(b). Subsection 6106(b)(6) exempts ...


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