Philly, Lancaster target ‘NRA law’

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 Flanked by cioty, state and federal officials, Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray speaks at in Philadelphia City Hall.(Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Flanked by cioty, state and federal officials, Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray speaks at in Philadelphia City Hall.(Tom MacDonald/WHYY)

Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Lancaster are challenging a law that opens to door for groups such as the NRA to challenge gun laws directly. 

The suit questions the constitutionality of Pennsylvania Act 192. which would give the NRA or other membership groups the ability to challenge municipalities’ gun laws. Before the act was signed last month, the groups didn’t have legal standing to sue. Instead, they had to find a resident to challenge local gun laws.  

While many local gun laws have been overturned, including in Philadelphia, others — such as those requiring firearms owners to report lost or stolen weapons — have withstood legal challenge so far.  

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter calls it “legislative madness.”

Lancaster may be forced to repeal local laws because the city can’t afford to defend them in court, said Mayor Rick Gray.

 “This bill is nothing more than an attempt by the NRA and gun lobby to bully smaller communities and larger communities into doing what they will — not based on the merits — but based on their ability to cost us money,” Gray said. 

State Sen. Daylin Leach said that, by his reading of the law, it could even extend to nonbinding resolutions.

“So even a resolution, which is a nonbinding expression of a wish to see the law changed in the future on the state or federal level, would subject you to damages,” said Leach, D-Montgomery. “So even saying that you would like the law to be different in regards to guns could get you sued under this bill.”

The NRA calls the law the strongest firearms pre-emption statute in the country, which gives citizens the ability to seek legal remedies against localities whose gun control ordinances exceed Pennsylvania law.  The group describes it as a much-needed protection for gun owners that will ensure that firearm and ammunition laws are consistent throughout the Keystone State.

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