Sunday, November 16, 2014

PA: Local Governments File Lawsuit to avoid Accountability on Gun Laws

In Pennsylvania, second amendment advocates have been fighting for years to reform Pennsylvania preemption law.   State law forbids local governments from passing a maze of local ordinances that infringe on the right to keep and bear arms.   All 50 states have some form of state firearm preemption; if they did not have it, residents would never know if they were breaking the law or not by being on one side of the street or another.

The problem in Pennsylvania is that the Legislature did not provide any penalties for local scofflaw governments when they break the law.   This year, 2014, second amendment supporters were able to pass the reform bill into law.  They were fought all the way with attempts to bottle the bill in committee, and various other procedural tricks.

The disarmists were not able to stop the bill, HB80, which proved very popular, passing by margins of more than two to one.

Now CeaseFirePA, a disarmist lobby primarily consisting of local government entities is funding a lawsuit against Governor Corbett, Lt. Governor Jim Cawley as presiding officer of the senate, and the Speaker of the House, Sam Smith.  From
Monday they filed a lawsuit against the House Speaker Sam Smith, Gov. Tom Corbett and Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley in his capacity of presiding officer of the state Senate, challenging the constitutionality of Act 192.

Plaintiffs include the cities of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Lancaster as well as state Sen. Daylin Leach, D-17, of Montgomery County, and state senators Lawrence Farnese and Vincent Hughes, both Democrats from Philadelphia.

Backing their effort is CeaseFirePA, a coalition of mayors, police chiefs, religious leaders, community organizations, and other Pennsylvanians dedicated to eliminating gun violence.
The bill passed the House by 143 to 54.  It passed the Senate 34-16.  It seems unlikely that the courts will rule that the procedures used to allow a vote after months of deliberations would be unconstitutional.

I should not be surprised at the lengths to which local officials will go to avoid being held accountable under the law, but it helps if you have a lobby group promise that they will pay your legal fees if you are sued.  From PAFOA, citing an CeasefirePA letter:
2. However, in the event that a lawsuit occurs, the Brady Center (currently representing Pittsburgh) has promised to represent pro bono (free of charge) any Pennsylvania municipality that passes lost or stolen handgun reporting. The Brady  Center has given me the authority to convey this offer to Erie.

Definition of  disarmist 

©2014 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is hard to see how they can object to the way the law was passed. The big issue, from what was bandied about in the press, may be the provision allowing outside groups to sue recalcitrant cities. If that means they don't need a local plaintiff, perhaps that can be challenged.

Pro bono defense by the Brady center may still not absolve the cities from payments in case of a loss, so we will see if smaller cities choose to litigate or follow the law.