AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File
Passing gun control laws against explicit state law is illegal. It’s illegal as hell. Preemption laws exist for a reason, and part of that reason is to create a universal code of gun laws throughout a state.
Yet the City of Pittsburgh did just that. Mayor Bill Peduto announced his intentions and proceeded, well aware that he was ignoring the law in the process. It was a blatantly illegal act, and what’s going to happen to him? Nothing.
Late last week, the Alleghany County District Attorney announced it was declining to charge Peduto or any of his cronies on the city council for willfully violating state law.
The Allegheny County district attorney declined to approve charges against the mayor of Pittsburgh and six city council members on Friday after the city passed gun control legislation that some gun rights supporters have said violates Pennsylvania law.
Seven Pittsburgh residents attempted to file criminal complaints against Mayor Bill Peduto (D) and the city councilors, according to The Associated Press. Citizens are allowed to file such charges with approval by the district attorney.
Democratic District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr.’s office said that prosecutors will not consider criminal charges until after the laws go into effect and someone is accused of violating them. The law will become effective in about two months.
“We will consider a private complaint if somebody is aggrieved by the law,” a spokesperson for Zappala told residents.
In other words, someone has to be arrested for violating the law before Zappala will do anything.
And with that, ladies and gentlemen, we can now see how much preemption laws mean. Not just in the state of Pennsylvania, but throughout the nation.
The purpose of preemption laws is to give us a unified system of laws. We know that if we’re lawfully carrying in town “A” and while traveling to City “B” we have to stop for gas, we’re not going to be breaking any laws. If every community can create gun laws out of the ether, it’s virtually impossible for non-residents to know ahead of time, creating thousands of instant criminals.
While the Pittsburgh law is high-profile, it also lays the groundwork for other cities to try and do the same regardless of what the law says. More importantly, this won’t stay confined to Pennsylvania, either.
I fully expect that other communities are watching and wondering if they can get away with anti-gun laws in defiance of state preemption rules.
Look, I’m a fan of preemption. I like knowing that if I’m traveling, all I need to do is familiarize myself with the state’s gun laws rather than also look at the laws of every community I may pass through.
However, until they get some teeth and prosecutors start using them, it’s open season on gun rights throughout the nation. Peduto and his buddies knew what they were doing. They knew they were breaking the law.
Now, residents in the city have to wait until they’re charged with a crime before they’re allowed to press charges?
Shows you just how much good words on a page matter if people don’t care — kind of like how criminals ignore gun laws on a regular basis.