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Salem teen cites right to bear arms at hearing

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Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A Westmoreland County teenager argued in court on Monday that he acted lawfully when he entered a car with a firearm he was not licensed to carry.

Kyle Jacob Cortese, 19, of Salem, cited his right to bear arms and an exception in the law that permitted his actions. Cortese represented himself without the assistance of an attorney during an evidence suppression hearing.

“The whole reason to the suppression of the firearm is because it is not my firearm,” Cortese told Judge John E. Blahovec.

Cortese was arrested at gunpoint on April 10 by Delmont police as he was getting in a vehicle parked along Greensburg Street. He was charged with carrying a firearm without a license, a felony.

Former Delmont Patrolman Nathaniel Ferree testified that officers were “instructed to do surveillance around the (borough) council meeting” that night. Investigators have said Cortese and another man were attending council meetings with firearms.

Cortese had an unloaded 9mm pistol holstered on his right hip and two magazines on the opposite hip.

Investigators allege that when Cortese, then 18, entered the vehicle, the firearm became concealed.

Pennsylvania residents ages 21 and older can apply for a license to carry a concealed firearm.

Cortese argued that his actions were legal because the firearm and the vehicle were registered to his father.

Cortese presented as evidence his father's license to carry a concealed weapon and vehicle registration.

Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Calisti argued that while the legal exception exists, Cortese is not eligible.

“You have to be 21 to be able to carry a firearm in a vehicle,” she said. “When he got in that vehicle and started to drive, he started concealing a weapon.”

Blahovec said he will issue a ruling at a later date.

“I certainly don't believe the Second Amendment is a game,” he said.

“It just looks like somebody's trying to see how far they can toy with Delmont police,” Blahovec said.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or

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