Written By: Robert L. Buzzendore, Esquire
Besides numerous federal law and regulations governing firearms, Pennsylvania laws govern firearms and who may possess them. Section 6105 of the PA Uniform Firearms Act identifies persons who are not allowed to possess, own or use a firearm. These include persons convicted of certain criminal offenses, incapacitated persons, fugitives, illegal aliens and those subject to a Protection from Abuse Order. A person who is not permitted to own, possess or use a firearm has 60 days to sell or transfer the firearm to a person who is allowed to have one1 or to a federally licensed dealer. A person violating this section commits a misdemeanor or felony.
In the May 6, 2019, decision in the Estate of John G. Guyaux, Mr. Guyaux died owning a ‘collection’ of 586 firearms. His brother and sister were his heirs. The late Mr. Guyaux left them strewn throughout his uninhabitable and condemned home. The court ordered the heirs to remedy the condemnation issues and this required someone to handle the firearms. As a result, the court ordered the sheriff to safeguard the firearms which required the sheriff to locate, inventory, and remove them to another location.
The sheriff deputies described the condition of the home as follows: disabled vehicles in the back yard, overgrown vegetation, garbage packed in the vehicles, sheds, barns, outhouses and basement, and mold in the basement. The firearms were in some of the garbage cans and embedded within the debris. This required the sheriff to expend substantial time to find the firearms, inspect them and unload them.
The sheriff submitted a bill of costs for $10,459.10 for the services it provided related to safekeeping the firearms. The trial court ordered the firearms to be sold and the proceeds be used to reimburse the sheriff.
The heirs objected to the costs and filed an appeal to the Superior Court (an appeals court), but it agreed with the trial court that the sheriff was entitled to receive reimbursement for its costs.
The moral of the story is if the sheriff needs to become involved in handling firearms, there will be a cost to the estate and it could be substantial.