Memorial to the Lost

Memorial to the Lost
at Chester Eastside Ministries

Friday, January 23, 2015

Editorial in today's Inky: Cities under fire

At the end of the last legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill effectively encouraging the National Rifle Association to sue cities and towns trying to prevent their residents from being shot and killed with illegal weapons. According to plan, the NRA last week sued Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Lancaster for passing reasonable laws requiring gun owners to tell the police when their weapons are lost or stolen.

The cities' laws are aimed at so-called straw buyers, who purchase guns on behalf of criminals who are prohibited from doing so. When the guns are found at crime scenes and traced back to these straw buyers, they invariably claim the weapons were lost or stolen, avoiding responsibility and charges. The local laws exist for a good reason: The state legislature refuses to rein in illegal gun merchants.

The NRA has sued Philadelphia and other municipalities before on the grounds that their ordinances are at odds with state law, but the courts had ruled that the group didn't have legal standing to challenge them. Hence the recent legislation, which specifically grants member organizations like the NRA standing in such lawsuits and even requires local taxpayers to cover their legal expenses if they prevail.

That was enough to scare several towns into scrapping their laws. But Philadelphia and others have sued to have the new law overturned. They argue that the legislation violated requirements that bills be voted on before 11 p.m. and that they cover a single subject. The NRA's legislation was sneaked into a bill on metal theft.
"Never has the NRA made it more clear that it works for the gun industry than with this suit," said longtime gun control activist Bryan Miller. "With this suit, it can in no way claim it's for public safety. This is overriding public safety."