Essentially ignoring energetic opposition from local gun owners, plus the threat of a lawsuit, and the existence of a state preemption statute, the Pittsburgh City Council has approved a trio of gun control ordinances in reaction to last year’s attack at the Tree of Life synagogue that claimed 11 lives and left others wounded.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the National Rifle Association is helping local residents with a legal action in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.
The council voted 6-3 to pass the measures, despite strong opposition from local gun owners who argue that the new restrictions violate the Pennsylvania preemption statute. Kim Stolfer, president of the Pennsylvania Firearms Owners Against Crime, told KDKA news Tuesday, “All of it’s illegal.”
“Pennsylvania preemption law says that no municipality, period, may in any manner regulate,” Stolfer said, according to CBS News. “And that’s at the heart of what they’re doing.”
Published reports suggest that the council thinks it can dance around the state law by merely prohibition the use of firearms, not banning their possession.
Buried in a story appearing in the Post-Gazette is a remark from Moms Demand Action. According to the newspaper, the Moms group called the council’s vote “a much needed first step.” But that brought a quick reaction from a newspaper reader writing under the pseudonym “Detale Again,” who asked, “First step towards what exactly?”
That has always been the question for which anti-gunners do not provide anything but hazy answers like “true gun safety” or “common sense gun regulation.” Is it because the answer is really the nullification of the Second Amendment? That’s certainly what rights activists believe, and the piecemeal erosion of the right to keep and bear arms over many decades only supports their suspicions.
Moms Demand Action is associated with anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, a national gun prohibition lobbying group.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto had told the Post-Gazette back in February that he would fight any legal action all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
Under the approved measures, the use of “certain assault-style weapons” and ammunition would be banned, and courts could confiscate firearms temporarily from people who allegedly are found to be an “extreme risk,” according to the newspaper.
As reported by The Hill, proponents of the restrictions say regulating “use” rather than possession of firearms and ammunition is a “unique course” that may allow the city to skirt the preemption law because “use” is an issue that “hasn’t yet been fully tested in Pennsylvania courts.”
Whether that strategy works remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the fight over this could have interesting ramifications in other states where municipal governments might want to test their luck with preemption laws.