The City of Pittsburgh is still making its illegal push for gun control in the city. It’s illegal because Pennsylvania has a preemption law, which means gun control laws need to come down from the state legislature.
As a result of the push, lawmakers in the city have been under a near constant barrage of criticism.
Now, they think they can throw a few bones to people to keep themselves out of the dog house.
Amendments are in the works that would clarify contentious gun control legislation before Pittsburgh City Council, addressing concerns from mental health professionals and gun owners and better guarding the bills against a legal challenge that’s all but certain to come if and when they’re passed, council members said.
The legislation proposed weeks after October’s mass shooting at Tree of Life synagogue would ban certain semi-automatic firearms or “assault weapons,” prohibit bump stocks and large capacity magazines, and allow the courts to temporarily confiscate firearms from a person deemed an “extreme risk.”
The trio of bills garnered immediate pushback from gun-rights advocates concerned about the broader implications for gun ownership in the commonwealth and beyond. But they also prompted concerns from mental health professionals who relayed to council members their belief that the wording of the bills could reinforce dangerous and ultimately erroneous stigmas around mental health issues and gun violence.
“There were some concerns, mostly from the mental health and disability rights communities,” District 8 council member Erika Strassburger said by phone, “so we’re putting a finer point on a few definitions.”
Unfortunately for Mayor Bill Peduto and company, there’s not much he can do that won’t run afoul of state law and end up getting his attempts at laws overturned. That’s because preemption laws are quite clear and for good reason.
Preemption laws exist to avoid communities creating an unnavigable patchwork of gun control laws that people may not be able to remain cognizant of as they travel through a state. While concealed carry may be fine in restaurants in Podunk, it may not be in Bumbleburp, thus landing someone in hot water for carrying in a restaurant when state law permits it.
By preventing that, it keeps state laws on firearms universal and easier to follow.
Yet Peduto believes that Pittsburgh is special, that it can pass and enforce whatever laws it wants regardless of state law. These attempts by him and his buddies are merely the recognition that they’re crossing lines. What they’re really doing here is trying to minimize the risk of lawsuits. After all, if they pass these measures such as his proposed assault weapon ban, then every gun owner with a weapon that qualifies has the standing to sue. Peduto knows it.
He’s just trying to minimize the impact.
Frankly, I suspect it won’t work. As it stands, people are already working on every legal avenue they can find to block this from happening. That tells me they’ll be more than willing to use the courts to spike this bill like a volleyball.
There’s no way Peduto can make this more palatable to gun owners, and he needs to understand that.