Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

Stealing Rights and Property in Steel City? Pittsburgh Reportedly Considering Sweeping Gun Control

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Stealing Rights and Property in Steel City? Pittsburgh Reportedly Considering Sweeping Gun Control

The NRA has received copies of what are reported to be draft ordinances being considered by the Pittsburgh City Council to enact sweeping gun control measures within the city.

It appears that Mayor Bill Peduto’s office is sending the drafts to mayors of other large cities, encouraging them to follow suit.

Yet if the drafts were enacted as written, the resulting ordinances would infringe fundamental rights, violate state law, and stick municipal taxpayers with hefty legal fees for the inevitable court challenges the new laws would provoke.

To the extent the Pittsburgh Mayor’s Office may be encouraging its counterparts to follow suit in other states with strong firearm preemption laws, it would be soliciting similar unlawful acts on their parts as well.

The documents received by the NRA contain three draft municipal ordinances to be added by the Council of the City of Pittsburgh to the local Code of Ordinances. It’s unclear whether all three are meant to be introduced simultaneously, as two of them overlap substantially.

One is an “assault weapon” ban that superficially appears to have been modeled on the failed federal ban in effect from 1994 to 2004. It would ban select-fire machine guns, an array of named semiautomatic firearms, as well as semiautomatic rifles and pistols that have two or more of various specified features.

Yet also prohibited would be any firearm that has “the ability to accept” a magazine with a capacity in excess of 10 rounds. This would prohibit essentially all semiautomatic and many manually-loaded firearms, except for specific exemptions that apply to .22 caliber and lever action firearms with tubular magazines.

The ordinance would become effective 60 days after enactment and would grandfather in those who lawfully owned the newly-banned guns before the law’s effective date.

A separate draft proposes to ban a large array of semiautomatic firearms, “semiautomatic modifications” that “accelerate the rate of fire” of a semiautomatic firearm, “large capacity” magazines (i.e., those capable of holding more than 10 rounds), and various types of ammunition.

This ordinance specifically targets centerfire, semiautomatic firearms that have any one of various named features, most of which are common on commercially available guns, or any semiautomatic rifle with an overall length of less than 30”.  Also included would be semiautomatic shotguns configured in common ways.

The ordinance would additionally prohibit various types of ammunition specified by design or caliber. These would include a wide array of non-lead bullets, .50 BMG rifle ammunition, and tracer rounds, among other things.

Firearms, as well as air guns, that have prohibited modifications would also be banned. These include guns equipped with specifically named accessories – such as “bump stock[s],” “binary triggers,” and “trigger cranks” –  and anything else the city considers to “accelerate the rate of fire” of the gun.

Like the other proposed gun ban, this one would take effect 60 days after enactment. Unlike the other proposal, however, it contains no grandfather clause for those who had previously acquired their property lawfully. Mere possession of the banned “firearms,” magazines, or ammunition would be enough to trigger a violation.

The third draft is a gloss on the increasingly common “extreme risk protection order” concept that would empower courts to order seizures of firearms from supposedly high risk persons.

Like the worst of these laws, the proposal would authorize such seizures even before the respondent had a chance to rebut the allegations against him or her. Merely having recently acquired a firearm, moreover, would be evidence the court would have to weigh against the respondent in deciding whether to issue the order. The issuance of a temporary or long-term seizure order would trigger a search warrant for firearms, even though the petitioner would not have to produce any actual evidence of firearm possession.

The draft, in other words, ignores basic concepts of constitutional law in its zeal to empower authorities to confiscate guns from people who in many cases will have done nothing illegal or threatening to others.

It also provides absolutely no other mechanisms to stabilize or incapacitate the supposedly high risk subject of the order, other than imposing firearm prohibitions and seizures.

Each of the proposed ordinances, on its face, would be bad policy, constitutionally suspect, and ineffective in preventing or reducing firearm-related crime.

If that weren’t enough to caution against them, however, all three would be squarely prohibited by Pennsylvania state law.

Like most other U.S. states, Pennsylvania reserves regulation of firearms to the state legislature. State law is clear that “[n]o county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth.”

Pittsburgh should be under absolutely no illusions about its local authority to regulate firearms, or to prohibit “assault weapons” in particular, having already lost a preemption challenge to a previous assault weapon ban in the 1996 case of Ortiz v. Commonwealth.

There, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court dismissed as “frivolous” Pittsburgh’s and Philadelphia’s attempt to defend their assault weapon ordinances as “fundamental” to their status as home rule municipalities. 

“By constitutional mandate, the General Assembly may limit the functions to be performed by home rule municipalities,” the court wrote.

It continued:

Because the ownership of firearms is constitutionally protected, its regulation is a matter of statewide concern. The [Pennsylvania] constitution does not provide that the right to bear arms shall not be questioned in any part of the commonwealth except Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, where it may be abridged at will, but that it shall not be questioned in any part of the commonwealth. Thus, regulation of firearms is a matter of concern in all of Pennsylvania, not merely in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and the General Assembly, not city councils, is the proper forum for the imposition of such regulation.

Other cases have invalidated different regulations prohibiting otherwise lawful firearm related conduct under the state’s preemption law. These include one where the Pennsylvania Supreme Court invalidated yet another Philadelphia “assault weapon” ban in 2008.

In other words, it has been repeatedly established beyond any reasonable doubt that Pittsburgh lacks the authority to enact any of the provisions included in the draft ordinances, particularly banning categories of firearms that are lawful in other parts of Pennsylvania. Any further attempt to do so would accordingly be a transparent and exploitative political stunt, not a serious attempt to legislate in the public interest.

Despite all this, Pittsburgh’s mayor Bill Peduto has publicly embraced the concept of the city trying to enact its own gun control and of encouraging his counterparts in other cities to do so as well. A local press report mentioned “[d]rafts of three local gun-reform bills” that were attached to the email letter Peduto sent to the other mayors as part of this effort.

If in fact those drafts are the same as those now in possession of the NRA, they evidence not just a lack of imagination and of insight into violent crime, but a wholesale disregard of the rule of law and of the fundamental rights of Pittsburgh citizens.

When lawbreaking becomes good politics, all decent people suffer. Hopefully cooler heads prevail before that again becomes the case in Steel City.

TRENDING NOW
NRA-ILA Backed Lawsuit Filed Challenging Oregon Measure 114

Thursday, December 1, 2022

NRA-ILA Backed Lawsuit Filed Challenging Oregon Measure 114

Today an NRA-backed lawsuit was filed challenging Ballot Measure 114, which voters passed by a slim margin last month. Measure 114 creates a falsely labeled “permit to purchase” a firearm requirement and bans standard capacity magazines, which it ...

NY AG James Sends Threatening Letter to Ammunition Sellers

News  

Monday, November 21, 2022

NY AG James Sends Threatening Letter to Ammunition Sellers

In a move that surprised absolutely nobody, anti-gun New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) announced last week that she would expand her assault on the Second Amendment by targeting ammunition sellers. AG James claimed, ...

Recent ATF Action Shows Need for Suppressor Reform

News  

Monday, March 14, 2022

Recent ATF Action Shows Need for Suppressor Reform

As we reported last week, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) denied approximately 850 Form 1 applications for prospective makers of suppressors on February 28. These denials were apparently made due to ...

Maryland: Montgomery County Passes Carry Restrictions

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Maryland: Montgomery County Passes Carry Restrictions

Maryland’s most anti-gun county has continued its tantrum, lashing out against lawful carry in the only way it thinks it can. Yesterday, the Montgomery County Council voted unanimously to pass Bill 21-22E, to remove the exemption ...

Colorado: Broomfield City Moves to Adopt Gun Control Package to Diminish Second Amendment Rights!

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Colorado: Broomfield City Moves to Adopt Gun Control Package to Diminish Second Amendment Rights!

Earlier this week, Broomfield City Council advanced a gun control package to impose on law-abiding citizens.  The second reading will be held in January.  In truth, none of the slew of regulations will stop criminals ...

Hawaii: Honolulu Seeks to Severely Restrict Carry

Monday, November 28, 2022

Hawaii: Honolulu Seeks to Severely Restrict Carry

Tomorrow, Tuesday, November 29th, the Honolulu City Council will hear an ordinance to prohibit citizens from exercising their right-to-carry in many places. This is an attempt to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s NYSRPA v. Bruen ...

Public Lands Lawsuit Settled—All Lands Remain Open to Hunting

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Public Lands Lawsuit Settled—All Lands Remain Open to Hunting

In 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service expanded hunting and fishing opportunities on more than 2.3 million acres of land. That decision was challenged in federal court, and the NRA, Safari Club International, Sportsmen’s ...

NRA Achieves Historical Milestone as 25 States Recognize Constitutional Carry

News  

Friday, April 1, 2022

NRA Achieves Historical Milestone as 25 States Recognize Constitutional Carry

Half the country will now enjoy the freedom to carry a handgun for self-defense without a permit from the state thanks to the tireless efforts of men and women of the National Rifle Association. 

CA DOJ Gun Owner Data Leak Due to “Deficiencies in Policies, Procedures, and Inadequate Oversight” Study Finds

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

CA DOJ Gun Owner Data Leak Due to “Deficiencies in Policies, Procedures, and Inadequate Oversight” Study Finds

Today, the California Department of Justice announced an independent study was completed regarding the recent data leak of gun owner information. The study found that while the leak was not intentional, it was "due to a number of ...

CPRC: FBI Wrong – Armed Citizens Stopped at Least 34% of “Active Shooter” Attacks

News  

Monday, October 17, 2022

CPRC: FBI Wrong – Armed Citizens Stopped at Least 34% of “Active Shooter” Attacks

Recent polling indicates that an increasing number of Americans view the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with distrust and disfavor. The results of a national survey conducted in August by Rasmussen Reports found that a majority of voters asked ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.