GOA granted injunction on Philly rec center gun ban

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Philadelphia’s mayor responded to a shooting at a public park by trying to unilaterally ban all guns at rec centers throughout the city. I get why he’d try to do something like that, but Mayor Jim Kenney simply doesn’t have the authority to do any such thing.

So, Gun Owners of America (GOA) filed a lawsuit.

Since Pennsylvania has preemption, and preemption has been upheld previously by the courts there, it’s unlikely the executive order will survive this challenge.

And, according to a press release sent out by GOA, it’s already lost its first battle.

Less than one week after Mayor Jim Kenney signed an unlawful Executive Order to prohibit citizens from lawfully carrying at Philadelphia parks and recreational facilities, the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas has permanently enjoined the City from enforcing the ban after a lawsuit was filed by Gun Owners of America (GOA) and several Pennsylvania members.

“The law in Pennsylvania couldn’t be clearer. No municipality – including Philadelphia – may regulate the lawful possession of firearms in any manner,” said Andrew Austin, attorney for GOA and the Plaintiffs. “Obviously, the City doesn’t care about that law or the concrete legal precedent affirming it, and since there are no consequences for them, they will continue to try to ram through illegal rules to the detriment of their own citizens. However, we’re grateful that the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas was willing to act so quickly to prohibit the mayor’s illegal action.”

“All of the anti-gun municipalities across the Commonwealth need to understand the message from this case: Gun Owners of America will not tolerate illegal bans, prohibitions, or restrictions on the Second Amendment in violation of Pennsylavania law. We stopped Mayor Kenney in less than a week, and we will do the same to you,” said Dr. Val Finnell, Pennsylvania Director of GOA. “However, the fact there are no consequences for these illegal actions by local politicians clearly demonstrates the need to add teeth to Pennsylvania’s preemption statute, through the very type of legislation like we saw vetoed last year by Governor Wolf (HB 979). When municipalities like Philadelphia violate the law, they should pay attorney’s fees and damages,” continued Finnell.

The City of Philadelphia is expected to appeal the Judge’s order and continue to frivolously waste taxpayer money on their unlawful anti-gun agenda.

And that’s obviously what they’ll do.

However, I think everyone expects that and also expects that it’ll eventually fail miserably. After all, there’s nothing in state law giving Kenney any such authority. Even absent the Second Amendment angle here, our government is set up in such a way that mayors, governors, and presidents don’t just get to assign themselves powers.

Instead, if those powers aren’t expressly given to them, it’s supposed to be assumed they simply don’t have them.

Kenney doesn’t have the authority to do what he did and GOA called him on it, as they should have.

However, GOA attorney Andrew Austin brings up a very good point, and one I’ve mentioned before. That’s how preemption laws often lack any repercussions for communities who decide to ignore the law. We saw this with former Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto deciding to enact an assault weapon ban against the state’s preemption law and absolutely nothing happened to him or the city as a result.

Without some teeth added to the preemption law, this kind of thing will continue to happen. After all, what good does a rule do if there are no penalties for breaking it?

That’s preemption today. Unfortunately, considering the politics of Pennsylvania, I don’t see that changing anytime soon.