Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

It's Hard to Find Value in Pa. Gun Law Battle

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

It's Hard to Find Value in Pa. Gun Law Battle

Article excerpt

Apart from making work for lawyers, gun control legislation doesn't have much effect in Pennsylvania.

Right now, the city is suing the state. Why? To overturn a new law that gives the National Rifle Association standing to sue the city.

Why is the NRA suing the city? In large part it's to overturn a city ordinance that requires gun owners to do something that nearly all would do anyway: report any lost or stolen gun to the police.

That law's been on the books for six years, but it's never been enforced. Why? Mayor Bill Peduto, who pushed for the Lost and Stolen Handguns legislation as a councilman in 2008 and pledged to enforce it as mayor, has had second thoughts.

Mr. Peduto told the City Paper last spring, "If we try it, we'll be sued, and under present state law, we will probably lose."

Why would they lose? Because state law says no locality "may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms." City councils nonetheless pass gun ordinances of various kinds. Why? Because they want their constituents to believe they're making it more difficult for crooks and lunatics to pack heat.

Never mind that it winds up being just for show. The passion plays. Just listen to Mr. Peduto as he talks about why the city is suing to overturn Act 192. That was passed by America's Largest Full-Time State Legislature last year to make it easier for the NRA to sue those Pennsylvania cities with the audacity to pass even the mildest of ordinances containing the word "gun."

"We will not be deterred and we will keep our lawsuit going against the unconstitutional act passed in Harrisburg," Mr. Peduto said last week. "This bill was attached to an unrelated one addressing stolen scrap metal - under the state Constitution, bills must have a single subject and this act clearly violates that."

In other words, if the city wins, it will be on this technicality, but that's OK. Philadelphia and Lancaster, also sued by the NRA, have joined Pittsburgh in the suit. If they win, the Legislature can come right back and pass a new law and we can crank up the merry-go-around again. …

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