Tags: Pennsylvania | gun | laws | NRA

Pennsylvania Set to Let Gun-Rights Groups Sue Over Gun Laws

Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014 03:52 PM

Pennsylvania lawmakers passed a bill on Monday night that would give the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights advocates standing to sue municipalities over their local gun laws, even if they are based elsewhere in the state.

The bill, which has already been passed by the state's Senate, was approved by the House of Representatives and now goes to Governor Tom Corbett, who has indicated he will sign it.

Representative Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican from suburban Pittsburgh who was the bill's prime sponsor, said it will give standing to individual gun owners and the groups they belong to "such as the NRA" to battle local gun ordinances in court, whether they live there or not.

"They are more apt to have the resources to go after them," he said of the groups in an interview.

Critics of the bill say it will give undue extra power to already influential gun-rights groups.

"This is a terrible bill," Shira Goodman, executive director of the Philadelphia-based gun-control group, CeasefirePA, said in an interview. "It is unprecedented."

Her group is considering litigation against the new law, and is questioning whether the bill violates the state's "single-subject" rule, which requires a bill passed by the legislature to address only one subject.

Besides giving gun-rights groups standing to sue, the bill also addresses the theft of scrap metal and the reporting of names to federal authorities of people barred from owning guns because of their mental health.

Metcalfe dismissed the objection, saying there is a single thread of "toughened penalties" that link the three separate parts of the law.

Those who successfully sue could also recover their legal fees from the municipality if they win, which has raised concerns in some towns and cities in the state.

Mayor Rick Gray of Lancaster said the city is considering repealing a local law enacted in 2008 requiring owners of lost or stolen guns to report them to local police.

Gray, a lawyer, believes the city was fully within its legal rights to enact it.

"But now every yahoo in the state can file a lawsuit against us," he said in an interview. "We cannot afford legal bullying."

Goodman said 30 municipalities statewide have ordinances governing lost or stolen guns.

John Hohenwarter, the NRA's state liaison, welcomed the bill, saying it would "rein in" municipalities that he sees as exceeding their authority on gun laws.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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Pennsylvania lawmakers passed a bill on Monday night that would give the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights advocates standing to sue municipalities over their local gun laws, even if they are based elsewhere in the state.The bill, which has already been passed...
Pennsylvania, gun, laws, NRA
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2014-52-21
Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014 03:52 PM
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