Pittsburgh mayor calls for state to remove preemption

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Pittsburgh is now establishing a history of mayors who think they should have the power to curtail rights. Former Mayor Bill Peduto pushed through an assault weapon ban that violated the state’s preemption law, as an example.

Well, Peduto is gone. Now, Mayor Ed Gainey seems to be following a similar footprint.

Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey is calling on state lawmakers to give Pittsburgh the power to pass and enforce its own gun laws and end a state law intended to preempt the city from doing so.

This comes as the city also appeals to Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, seeking the power to enforce gun laws the city passed in 2019 after the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

“Give us the right to preempt state law. Give us the right to ban military-style assault weapons in our streets. Give us the right,” Gainey said during a news conference in the portico of the City-County Building on Monday. “We are begging our legislators in Harrisburg. Give us the right to fight for the lives of our children.”

The mayor was joined by community leaders and elected officials calling for what they describe as commonsense gun legislation.

The city of Pittsburgh saw more gun violence this weekend. Several people were hurt, one man was killed and an officer was hit by a bullet.

The mayor spoke about the Pittsburgh police officer who escaped serious injury when a shot fired at him hit his protective vest.

“He’s doing well. We’re praying for him. We’re thankful that nothing serious happened. And I want that officer and his family to know how much he means to the city of Pittsburgh,” Gainey, said. “But again, that’s why we need the state to move.”

Gainey talked primarily about so-called gun crime, stating he lost a sister and niece to such a thing.

I’m sympathetic. Losing someone you care about to such a thing is rough and I get wanting to do something to make sure it never happens again.

However, let’s be real for a moment. There’s a greater chance of Kate Beckinsale calling me up to ask me out and my wife being truly OK with me agreeing than there is of any gun control measure passed by the city of Pittsburgh actually stopping any shootings.

First, cities generally don’t pass felonies. The most they can do is hit someone with a misdemeanor.

Now, if the felony charges that come from shooting at people–even if you miss, unless it’s self-defense, it’s still a felony–aren’t enough to deter criminals, then just what is a misdemeanor going to do?

Let’s remember that these are criminals we’re talking about here. If they were inclined to follow the law in the first place, there wouldn’t be an issue.

But if Pittsburgh restricts guns, it won’t be the criminals that will be impacted. It’ll be the law-abiding citizens of Pittsburgh who will find themselves.

They’ll follow the law because they’re law-abiding, but they’ll be at a disadvantage when compared to the criminals that prey upon them.

So here’s hoping state lawmakers tell Gainey and future Pittsburgh officials to pound sand.