Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County in the case of In Re: Denial of License to Carry a Firearm, No. SA 774-1984.
Rochelle S. Friedman, for appellant.
Regis J. Schnippert, Assistant City Solicitor, with him, Judith W. Spain and D. R. Pellegrini, City Solicitor, for appellee.
Beth L. Balzer, for amicus curiae, ACLU of Pittsburgh.
President Judge Crumlish, Jr., and Judges Rogers and Barry, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Barry.
[ 98 Pa. Commw. Page 372]
David Goodman, the appellant, appeals from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County which affirmed a decision of Robert Coll, Superintendent of Police of the City of Pittsburgh (Coll), denying appellant's application to renew his license to carry a firearm.
On May 8, 1984, the appellant made application for renewal of his license to carry a firearm, which had originally been issued in May of 1979, and had been reissued each year thereafter until the present application. The Legislature has decided that one may obtain such license if one can show that he or she is "a suitable person to be so licensed," 18 Pa. C.S. § 6109(a), and that "the applicant has good reason for carrying a firearm." Id. Although the present application contained substantially the same factual allegations as were on the previous approved applications, Coll, by letter of May 10, 1984, denied the request because appellant had failed to prove he was a suitable person to hold a license. The denial letter also informed appellant of his right to request a hearing.
Appellant requested a hearing and one was held on June 7, 1984. Present were appellant and his counsel, Coll and a police legal advisor. When appellant asked if the legal advisor was present in the capacity of a hearing officer, Coll made clear that he was deciding whether
[ 98 Pa. Commw. Page 373]
appellant should be licensed. Appellant objected to this procedure, but proceeded nonetheless.
Coll was called as appellant's first witness. He was questioned about his decision to deny the present application. He explained his refusal to accept the allegations concerning appellant's fitness and need for the license, testifying that recent events had caused him to treat the present application differently from the previous ones. Appellant then testified in a manner consistent with the allegations contained in the application.
By letter of June 11, 1984, Coll informed appellant that he had reaffirmed his decision to deny the application because appellant had failed to prove either his fitness or need for the license. Appellant then took an appeal to common pleas court. Without taking any additional testimony, that court, professing both to ...