Man Wields Gun to Break Up High School Fight: The Law on Firearms and Schools

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Mar 01, 2019 | 0 Comments

A fight outside a high school in Philadelphia was cleared away when an unknown adult brandished what seems to have been a firearm. The situation presents an opportunity to go over the limits of Pennsylvania's “stand your ground” laws, as well as an important exception to a gun owner's right to bear arms: School grounds.

Fight Outside Philadelphia High School Disbursed by Gun-Wielding Adult

Cellphone footage taken across the street from Philadelphia's Northeast High School on Thursday, February 28, shows a fight involving about a dozen teenagers. As one of the altercations spilled over the curb and into the street, an adult who appeared to be trying to gain control of the situation pulled out what looked like a gun. Students quickly scattered as the footage stops abruptly.

While the adult never fired the weapon, police are looking for him in connection with the incident.

Stand Your Ground Not a Defense When No Shots Fired

Using force, including deadly force, for self-defense is a crucial right to have. In Pennsylvania, your right to use a firearm for self-defense is found at 18 Pa.C.S. § 505.

There are, however, numerous requirements that need to be met in order to lawfully use deadly force in self-defense. While subsection 505(b)(2.3) permits people in Pennsylvania to “stand their ground” and not retreat from an altercation before wielding deadly force, how the altercation began, in the first place, makes a big difference: The person claiming self-defense cannot have initiated the altercation.

Of course, Pennsylvania's stand your ground law is moot until deadly force is actually used. With no shots fired, there is no self-defense issue – the stand your ground law only "triggers" when the gun is discharged. It cannot be used to justify merely brandishing a weapon.

Brandishing a Firearm in School Zones

What police are likely more concerned with is the fact that the adult in the cellphone footage pulled out what looked like a gun, with Northeastern High School in the immediate background of the scene. 18 Pa.C.S. § 912 makes it a first-degree misdemeanor just to carry a firearm on school property, let alone brandish it. Convictions carry between 2.5 and five years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.

While state law only reaches to the end of “school property,” the federal Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990 prohibits carrying a firearm within 1,000 feet of a public school. While there are exceptions – such as for unloaded firearms that are stored in a locked container, and for people who are duly licensed to carry a firearm in the state – violators risk facing up to five years in jail and $5,000 in fines.

Criminal Defense Lawyer Joseph D. Lento Serves Philadelphia

Joseph D. Lento is a criminal defense lawyer who legally represents those who have been accused of a crime in or near the city of Philadelphia, including for firearms or weapons chargesContact him online or call his law office at (215) 535-5353 for legal help if you have been arrested or are being charged with a crime.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today!

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.