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Pennsylvania gun laws: The state vs. local governments

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A legislative battle is brewing in Pennsylvania over local governments' rights to regulate guns. Local laws in Washington D.C. got the guns pictured here at DC police headquarters off the street. (AP file photo)

Hour 1

Pennsylvania state law forbids local governments from making their own gun ordinances, but in an effort to control gun violence, cities, towns and counties across the Commonwealth, including Philadelphia, have enacted laws mandating the reporting of lost or stolen firearms.  Many of these guns are the result of straw purchases — firearms that are purchased legally but are then sold to someone who can’t get a permit to own a gun, most frequently convicted felons or juveniles. Now a new bill being considered by Pennsylvania’s General Assembly would impose a financial penalty on municipalities who enact such laws by requiring them to pay damages to plaintiffs who challenge their laws in court.  Local governments say that the enactment of this bill would pose a serious threat to their ability to control illegal trafficking of guns. Those supporting the proposed legislation say this is a constitutional matter in that state law “preempts” local laws.  Joining us to discuss the issue are JOHN HOHENWARTER, the National Rifle Association‘s Pennsylvania liaison and a bill supporter, and MAX NACHEMAN of CeaseFire PA, who opposes it. We’ll also hear from Lancaster Mayor RICK GRAY, who says cities should have the authority to regulate firearms at the local level.

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[audio: 022112_100630.mp3]

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