Pro-gun groups like the NRA are going after municipalities in Pennsylvania which are violating a 40-year-old state law prohibiting them from regulating firearms. The cities of Philadelphia, Lancaster and Pittsburgh have “openly defied” state law, says Chris Cox, the NRA’s executive director for legislative action.
The cities, of course, plan to fight the NRA.
“This should be a wake-up call for citizens across Pennsylvania,” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said. “We’re not taking away anyone’s right to own a gun — or 10 or 20 guns. What we’re saying is when a gun is lost or stolen, you’ve got to report it. Too many people are being killed in the streets of Pittsburgh and other cities with stolen guns.”
The situation in Pennsylvania is quite simple. The state laws prevent cities from regulating “ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of guns or ammunition.” The cities have done so anyway. Gun rights groups say it has been hard to prove harm in court cases that have challenged such laws.
However, a new state law took effect last week that dictates citizens do not have to show “harm” when they sue a city for depriving them of their Second Amendment rights. The AP reports, “Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Lancaster are fighting the new law in court, arguing lawmakers didn’t follow constitutional procedure for passing legislation.”
“It is unconstitutional, it never should have been passed, and it breaks with more than 200 years of history in Pennsylvania, by allowing organizations without standing the ability to sue,” Peduto said.
That’s kind of funny coming from a mayor who is hell bent on enforcing a law that is in violation of state law.
Some cities have already moved to repeal their illegal restrictions rather than engage in a lengthy court battle. “The NRA suit filed Wednesday against Philadelphia targets seven ordinances, including ones that require owners to report lost or stolen firearms; prohibit guns from city-owned facilities; and ban weapons possession by people subject to protection-from-abuse orders or who are found to pose a risk of ‘imminent harm’ to themselves or others.”
If the city is successful against the NRA “then the NRA would not have standing to file the suits that it has filed today,” said Mark McDonald, spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter.
The NRA has plans to go after other cities who are violating the state law. “We expect every municipality to repeal ordinances that are pre-empted. If other folks don’t get on board with what the law requires, they can expect to hear from us in due course,” Jonathan Goldstein, the NRA attorney said.