Earlier this week the Pennsylvania Legislature passed House Bill 80, an amendment to the PA Uniform Firearms Act. In it, the legislature modified the language in the uniformity section of our state’s firearms code to allow just about anyone to sue any city, township or boro that has passed or attempts to pass firearms laws that overrides state law.
Local media and progressives have spent the last two weeks crying foul, that the NRA gun lobby monster is putting a gun to our heads and deleting all of our gun laws. It’s nonsense bullshit from crybabies who are angry that their plans to stomp on legal gun owners rights are soon to be thwarted.
Put simply, HB80 opens the door for lawsuits to be filed by plaintiffs in the civil courts to challenge local gun ordinances that preemptively override Pennsylvania’s firearms laws. For instance, the City actually has a law on the books to confiscate all sorts of guns.
I myself own several guns that are ‘outlawed’ by the City of Philadelphia. The Phila Code demands I turn these guns over to the Philadelphia Police. But… I bought these guns from dealers IN the City! How can that be?
The law is inert. Not only is it pending waiting for enabling legislation from Harrisburg that will never come, the City would likely never prosecute anyone using §10-821 because any defense lawyer with a brain would immediately raise a constitutional challenge and then the City would suffer an embarrassing defeat in the appellate courts that don’t make DA’s look good.
But the City’s assault weapons ban isn’t the only local gun ordinance that’s ripe for deletion. There’s questions surrounding the legality of Councilman Kenyatta Johnson‘s 3D Printing Gun Ban. In an effort to keep this law intact in a challenge, it was neutered before passage to only ban the manufacture of 3D-printed guns in the City. You can drive outside the City with your 3D printer, stamp out the gun parts outside the City, and then bring it back into the City with no problem. Even still, the Uniform Firearms Act already regulates firearms manufacturing so it remains to be seen if this attempt to save this very-neutered ban would survive a challenge under HB80.
Early this morning I have received indications within City Hall that the City has no intention to clean up the Code to remove these inert grandstanding laws off the City’s books. That makes the City vulnerable to plaintiff suits. Other townships near Philly see the writing on the wall [Inky] and are working on clearing their preemptive legislation off their local codes.
I’m sure in tomorrow’s City Council session we’ll get to hear a LOT of whining about how we’re all going to die in a soup of gun violence because all these unenforceable laws will have to be cleaned off the books. It won’t surprise me in the least if the City assumes a posture that it will be happy to pay out legal fees in defiance. Good for them.
It’s not like Harrisburg is similarly defiant about not changing our state’s firearms code. Just last year CeaseFirePA had a major victory in getting mandatory minimum sentencing passed against straw purchasers. Harrisburg is also willing to consider expanding background checks on commercial gun sales.
The Uniformity Clause in our state firearms code exists for a very good reason: without it, we are left with a crazy quilt of local firearms codes that conflict with each other. It forces all Pennsylvania towns and cities to broker for change in one venue so that we have one uniform code that is simpler to understand and follow for those folks who legally own firearms.
Entrapment of legal gun owners with crazy quilt local ‘gotcha’ ordinances is juvenile and shows how irascible some people are that they would prefer to bitch than to work with their state lawmakers to solve problems.