HARRISBURG, Pa. – A Lancaster County judge’s conviction of a man who brought a knife to a Solanco elementary school has been upheld by a state appeals court.
In upholding the conviction, the Pennsylvania Superior Court made the first precedential ruling by an appellate court on what defines “lawful” possession of a weapon on school grounds.
Andrew Josiah Goslin, 32, was convicted last year of misdemeanor possessing a weapon on school property, and sentenced to a year of probation.
During a 2014 meeting with administrators at Providence Elementary School over his son’s discipline for having a knife at school, Goslin brought a knife and placed it on a table.
The law prohibits possession of weapons on school grounds, but for these exceptions:
* The weapon is possessed by security personnel or police, or if the weapon is used in conjunction with a supervised school activity;
* The weapon is possessed for a “lawful purpose.”
Goslin, in his request for a new trial, argues that he is a carpenter and always carries a knife “everyday everywhere.”
The state court, in a 15-page opinion, ruled that “lawful purpose” does not mean any lawful purpose, but one that is related to school.
“(Goslin) did not appear at the school in his capacity as a carpenter,” Superior Court Judge Sallie U. Mundy writes in the 2-1 decision. “Rather, (Goslin) appeared in his capacity as a parent, with no purpose to possessing the knife on school property.”
Assistant District Attorney Travis S. Anderson argued, in opposition of Goslin, that the fact Goslin didn’t use the weapon for a criminal purpose doesn’t exempt him from the law.
“If the court had agreed with Mr. Goslin, it would effectively gut the statute and legalize the possession of weapons on school grounds provided that one did not actually employ the weapon for some criminal purpose – and at that point, it would be too late,” Anderson said after the state court’s ruling last week.
Anderson said it was the first time an appellate court issued a binding ruling on what constitutes “lawful purpose” possession of a weapon on school grounds.
Goslin was initially convicted following a bench trial in front of Lancaster County President Judge Dennis Reinaker. Goslin then filed for relief with the state Superior Court.