The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) reported
Friday that Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto announced at a press conference that he was proposing a confiscation program targeting popular weapons and accessories.
He proposes a ban on semi-automatic weapons, standard capacity magazines that he terms “high-capacity,” and bump stocks. He also proposes a procedure for a city-wide confiscation of these items.
The ban on semi-automatic weapons is aimed primarily at so-called (but inaccurately termed) “assault rifles,” but it also applies to certain semi-automatic handguns and shotguns.
Those who fail to comply “shall be fined $1,000 and costs for each offense, and in default of payment thereof, may be imprisoned for not more than 90 days.” In addition, the proposals provide that “[e]ach day of a continuing violation of or failure to comply… shall constitute and separate and distinct offense.”
The proposals would allow law enforcement officers to search any person’s property and confiscate any weapons without due process, acting solely upon a petition submitted by a family member or a law enforcement official.
The proposals are in response to the Oct. 27 mass shooting at the city’s Tree of Life Synagogue that resulted in 11 deaths and seven persons injured.
If approved by the city council and signed into law by Peduto, the ordinances would violate state law making it illegal for local government to pass firearms restrictions more stringent than those at the state level.
The law provides that, “No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth.”
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled on this statute in the 1996 case of Ortiz vs. Pennsylvania, when both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia attempted to enforce gun laws that were stricter than those at the state level.
“Because the ownership of firearms is constitutionally protected, its regulation is a matter of statewide concern,” the opinion stated. “The constitution does not provide that the right to bear arms shall not be questioned in any part of the commonwealth except Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, where it may be abridged at will, but that it shall not be questioned in any part of the commonwealth. Thus, regulation of firearms is a matter of concern in all of Pennsylvania, not merely in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and the General Assembly, not city councils, is the proper forum for the imposition of such regulation.”
The court reaffirmed this 13 years later in National Rifle Association vs. Philadelphia.
Apart from the legal issues, the Pittsburgh proposal is backwards: It addresses the tool — not the perpetuator.
After the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, anti-gun groups once again denounced so-called “assault rifles,” because an AR-15 happened to be gunman Nikolas Cruz’s weapon of choice.
In less than 10 days after the shooting, The Washington Post reported that school officials as well as law enforcement officials at the county and federal level repeatedly ignored warning signs that if heeded, could have prevented the tragedy.
Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was one of Cruz’s 17 victims, told Newsmax TV that officers responding to the shooting came unprepared to deal with the incident and once on the scene, took their time before entering the building.
The problem with limiting firearm types is that the only people who comply with such restrictions are law-abiding citizens. To adequately respond to a heavily-armed home invader, the home owner should be similarly armed.
Business advisor and Future File creator Carol Roth drove that point home six years ago in a Twitter debate with TV personality Piers Morgan.
Morgan claimed that “The 2nd amendment was devised with muskets in mind, not high-powered handguns & assault rifles. Fact.”
Roth disagreed. She tweeted that, “It was devised 4 people 2b able 2 protect themselves w same type of weaponry used by those from whom they might need protection.”
Morgan asked, “Where exactly does it say that in the Constitution - must have missed it?”
She responded, “right next to the word ‘muskets.’”
Boom! End of debate.
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He’s also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports - Click Here.
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