Bill would reset Pa. firearms law just overturned by high court

    File image of attendees looking over a wall of guns available to win in a raffle at the National Rifle Association's annual convention in Friday

    File image of attendees looking over a wall of guns available to win in a raffle at the National Rifle Association's annual convention in Friday

    The measure would let gun rights groups and owners, regardless of residency or enforcement actions, challenge municipal firearms ordinances.

    A bill moving in the state legislature would reinstate a firearms law struck down a week ago by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

    The new measure asserts any gun owner or advocacy group has standing to file a lawsuit against — and recoup related expenses from — a municipality,  over firearms ordinances that depart from state statute.

    It doesn’t matter if someone is harmed or merely cited under the ordinance. If the potential’s there, so is the standing to sue, according to the legislation sponsored by state Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Adams.

    Successful plaintiffs also would be entitled to a monetary award, even if a local government were to rescind its ordinance after getting hit with a lawsuit.

    The point is to establish consistency across municipalities, Alloway wrote in his cosponsorship memo.

    Senate Bill 1330 mirrors Act 192, which was thrown out last week by the state Supreme Court. But the ruling — which upheld prior decisions  — was based on the way the legislature passed Act 192, not its substance.

    What’s next?

    The legislation is up for second consideration before the state Senate after clearing the chamber’s Local Government Committee with an 8-3 vote Monday.

    All Democrats on the panel opposed it, except state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Luzerne/Carbon.

    State Rep. Mark Keller, R-Perry, said last week he plans to introduce a similar bill.

    Some cities, meanwhile, are gearing up in advance of July council meetings to reintroduce firearms ordinances that they rescinded because of their concerns about costs of litigation enabled by Act 192.

    City reaction

    In the wake of last week’s ruling, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski told The Morning Call he wants the municipality to reinstate the firearms ordinance repealed by the city, one of about 100 local governments to do so in recent years.

    Easton Mayor Sal Panto, meanwhile, told the newspaper he’ll renew his push for stricter gun laws rejected in 2008 by other city officials.

    Erie is one city that will leave its old rules off the books for now, according to the city’s deputy solicitor Gregory Karle.

    Officials in Pittsburgh, which fended off a lawsuit from the NRA, have acknowledged they’re loathe to enforce their straw purchasing law, lest the city incur more legal expenses. Lancaster’s facing a lawsuit from the NRA over its requirement to notify authorities within 72 hours if guns are lost or stolen.

    U.S. Law Shield and Firearms Owners Against Crime is pursuing two challenges of five ordinances in the city of Harrisburg, including a 48-hour reporting requirement and bans on firing guns and carrying them in parks.

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