Toughened Up Gun Laws for Pittsburgh Thrown Out

A Pittsburgh Police officer walks past the Tree of Life synagogue and a memorial of flowers and stars in Pittsburgh on Oct. 28, 2018, in remembrance of those killed and injured when a shooter opened fire during services at the synagogue. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

PITTSBURGH (CN) — Just days after the first anniversary of a synagogue shooting that left 11 dead, a Pennsylvania judge struck down proposed gun regulations that the Pittsburgh City Council proposed in the wake of the Tree of Life tragedy.

Conceived two months after the Oct. 27, 2018, carnage, the three ordinances sought to limit what firearm accessories, ammunition and modifications are allowed in the city; prohibit large-capacity magazines; and bar individuals from having guns if police or family members could prove they were a threat.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto signed the proposals into law this past April, despite acknowledging that he and the City Council lacked the legal authority to enact them.

Represented by Joshua Prince of the Civil Rights Defense Firm, three individual gun owners, the group Firearm Owners Against Crime and several others quickly filed suit.

They argued pre-emption by state law, noting that the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act states: “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.”

Judge Joseph James awarded the challengers summary judgment Tuesday in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

“Stated simply, under the doctrine of field preemption, the UFA preempts any local regulation pertaining to the regulation of firearms,” the 5-page ruling states. “The Uniform Firearms Act is a comprehensive statute that evidences an intent by the Legislature to preempt the entire field of firearms and ammunition across the state of Pennsylvania.”

Prince said in a statement that he was delighted with the decision.

“The city’s gun control sought to eviscerate the inviolate right of the residents of the Commonwealth to keep and bear arms and ensnare law-abiding citizens through a patchwork of laws,” Prince said. “Today, Judge James made clear that Mayor Peduto and the Pittsburgh City Council are neither above the law nor a special class of citizens that may violate the law with impunity.”

Mayor Peduto tweeted Tuesday that the city plans to appeal the ruling.

“These laws are already constitutionally legal in other cities & states,” Peduto also tweeted Tuesday in reply to another user who claimed these laws were in clear violation of the U.S. Constitution. “We are being challenged on a PA State Preemption Law – one that takes away our Domestic Tranquility.”

A city of Pittsburgh spokesperson did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

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