Beaver County Judge Kim Tesla has ordered Sheriff George David to reinstate the license to carry a concealed firearm he revoked earlier this year from New Brighton resident Dennis McKee.
McKee saw his permit revoked back in February, after the New Brighton police notified Sheriff David about a complaint they had received against the man.
Lori Musser, who is a building manager for the Housing Authority at the Thomas Bishop Apartments, filed a report with police after a confrontation with McKee, who lived in the complex at the time. Musser told police that she was afraid of the man, who accused her of trying to steal a rug that he said belonged to him.
While no charges were filed against McKee as a result of the incident, Sheriff George David made the decision to revoke McKee’s concealed carry permit anyway.
Dennis McKee, acting as his own attorney, brought a lawsuit against Sheriff David citing a state law requiring the Sheriff to provide a written revocation notice that included “the specific reason for revocation.” The letter sent to McKee by Sheriff David simply stated that his license was revoked for “good cause.” McKee argued that it would be impossible for him to file an appeal of the revocation, as no specific allegations were made against him to refute factually.
Judge Tesla agreed with McKee, ruling that Sheriff David had violated the state statute, and ordering him to reissue the revocation — this time providing specific reasons behind the action as required by law. Sheriff David once again revoked McKee’s license, and Dennis McKee once again filed an appeal on his own behalf.
A lengthy hearing was held in August, where both Dennis McKee and Sheriff David, who was represented by Sheriff’s Office Solicitor Myron Sainovich, called multiple witnesses to testify about the man’s reputation in the community, and his likelihood to be a danger to the public.
In a blistering 33 page opinion issued today, Judge Tesla ruled that Sheriff David had made no effort to determine what Dennis McKee’s reputation in the community actually was before revoking his license, further concluding that there is no evidence the man is any danger to society.
“A person’s character and reputation in the community is established based on an individual’s actions and how he has lived his life,” wrote Judge Tesla. “Mr. McKee served as a Marine in Vietnam and received an honorable discharge. After returning home, McKee lived a productive life as a maximum security prison guard and as a truck driver for PennDOT. McKee, 66 years old, has no prior record and has possessed a license to carry a firearm for 35 years […] Based on testimony presented at the hearing and the documents submitted into evidence, the Court concludes that any conflict between Mr. McKee and Ms. Musser was a result of his pursuit of grievances against the Housing Authority and not any alleged threats of violence.”
“After review of the record, the Court does not believe that our forefathers meant that an individual’s right to bear arms under the 2nd amendment or Acticle 1 Section 21 require that a citizen is unable to express his or her views or is gagged, in order to be licensed to carry a firearm,” concluded Judge Tesla. “Nor should a lawful citizen, who has no prior record, and had been issued a license to carry a firearm for 35 years, have his license to carry a firearm be revoked based on hearsay statements that have not been substantiated by investigation of the Sheriff’s Office [..] The Court finds that the Sheriff’s conclusion that McKee has a reputation and character that is likely that he will act in a manner dangerous to the public is based solely on incorrect information, hearsay and speculation.”
Judge Tesla ordered Sheriff David to reinstate Dennis McKee’s license to carry a concealed firearm.
“I only went through to the 6th grade and that’s it,” said Dennis McKee after the Beaver Countian informed him of Judge Tesla’s ruling. “Myron Sainovich is a who’s who, a mister big shot attorney, and I handed him his ass by representing myself. Do you know what’s good about that? It means that we the people still have rights here in America, and we the people can defend those rights by challenging our own government in court.”
“And let me tell you, Sheriff George David is the last person that should be deciding who can carry a gun or not,” added McKee.
Some Second Amendment attorneys have already begun to praise Judge Tesla’s ruling in the case. “The Firearms Industry Consulting Group (FICG) commends Judge Telsa for his thorough Opinion, which was not swayed by any influence that the Sheriff’s Department may have over the judiciary in Beaver County,” said attorney Joshua Prince, who had filed a “friend of the court” brief in the case. “This decision is a testament to Judge Tesla’s ability to be a fair and impartial jurist, which should be applauded.”
Note: In the interest of full disclosure, this reporter is a named victim in criminal charges filed against Sheriff George David by the Pennsylvania State Police.