FAIRFAX, Va. - The National Rifle Association has made good on its pledge to file suits against Pennsylvania municipalities that refused to repeal local gun laws that it says violate state laws by filing civil actions against the cities of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Lancaster in their respective county courts of common pleas.
The pro-gun lobbying organization has taken advantage of a new state law passed at the end of last year by the general assembly and signed by former Gov. Tom Corbett that gives national organizations legal standing to file suits on behalf of members residing in Pennsylvania.
After the passage of Act 192, the NRA announced intentions to analyze all commonwealth municipalities' gun ordinances and file suits against any towns that violated a section of the Uniform Firearms Act enacted 40 years ago that prohibits municipalities from regulating the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms and ammunition.
Despite the state restriction, many municipalities have created their own ordinances regarding the use of firearms within the communities, resulting in what the NRA calls a patchwork of inconsistent laws. Before the passage of Act 192, local citizens had difficulty earning legal standing to challenge the ordinances.
The new legislation also requires municipalities to pay for all legal fees if they lose the civil case. The threats of lawsuits and the prospect of spending taxpayer dollars to cover court costs has prompted more than 20 local government entities to preemptively repeal their gun ordinances.
However, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Lancaster have filed their own suit in the Commonwealth Court challenging the legality of the new bill, saying it was tacked on as an amendment to unrelated legislation and did not go through an effective vetting process before the vote.
“The cities of Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Lancaster have openly defied state law for decades. They continue to willfully violate the law and insist on politically grandstanding at taxpayers’ expense,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action.
“The reality is the illegal ordinances in question do not make people safer. They are simply tools to further the gun control agenda and infringe on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
According to the complaint against Lancaster filed at the Lancaster County Court of Common Pleas, a 2009 ordinance that requires the reporting of a lost or stolen firearm is in direct violation of the state constitution.
"As the ordinance seeks to regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or
transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components, it violates the General Assembly’s clear, statewide preemption scheme, and established precedent of
the Supreme Court of the Commonwealth Pennsylvania," says the complaint, filed by Jonathan Goldstein of McNelly & Goldstein in Hatfield.