Man brings gun to school, charges dropped because of ‘quirky’ state law

A top prosecutor in Pennsylvania dropped charges last week against a man who brought a gun to school earlier this year, saying a “quirk” in state statute forced his hand.

Delaware County District Attorney Jack Whelan said Wednesday he withdrew charges against 32-year-old Domonique F. Jordan, a personal care aide from Philadelphia, for bringing a handgun to Drexel Hills Middle School in March. Law enforcement arrested Jordan, a concealed carry permit holder, after he admitted to school officials he had a gun in his backpack, according to the Delaware County Daily Times.

Whelan told the newspaper although Jordan violated Upper Darby School District policy against bringing weapons on school grounds, state law permits it so long as the weapon is used for a “lawful purpose” — whether that purpose is related to school or not.

“I think it’s a quirk in the law that needs to be looked at,” he said. “The statute points this out, that if you have a lawful purpose to carry the weapon, then you’re exempt from this part of the statute.”

Whelan based his withdrawal on a recent state Superior Court ruling handed down earlier this year in Commonwealth v. Goslin — a decision with wide-reaching consequences relatively unknown to state lawmakers who continue vetting a proposal to arm school teachers and staff.

In Commonwealth v. Goslin, a carpenter named Andrew Goslin faced a first-degree misdemeanor charge for bringing a pocket knife to a parent-teacher conference at his son’s elementary school in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 2014. He appealed his conviction, insisting he used the pocket knife at work and in his life for mundane reasons — such as opening a tuna can in his lunch box — and therefore didn’t deserve the misdemeanor.

The Superior Court panel agreed, vacating his sentence in a Feb. 16 ruling.

“Because of the case law, once he demonstrates that he had a lawful purpose, we were no longer able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt (that he violated the law),” Whelan told the newspaper. “Obviously, we would always want to see that school policies would not allow anyone to carry any type of weapon on their person. …In this case, he complied with the statute and we have to uphold whatever the law is.”