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Philadelphia Lawmakers Authorize Mayor To Ban Guns in City Parks, Rec Centers

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia City Council has given final approval to a measure that authorizes the mayor to ban guns in city parks and at recreation centers.

But even the sponsor acknowledges the measure is likely to be challenged in court.

The vote was 15-to-2 as Council authorized Mayor Nutter to create regulations for city parks and recreation centers that explicitly prohibit carrying firearms there even if the person has a legal “carry” permit (see previous story).

“I want to make sure our facilities for our youngest citizens are safe,” said the measure’s chief sponsor, 8th District councilwoman Cindy Bass.  “And this, I believe, will go a long way.  I think it will spread the message.”

City officials say the rules would regulate behavior, not guns, and thus would not conflict with state control of firearms.  But Bass admits this is likely to end up in court.

“We’re sure that there are going to be some challenges, but we need to proceed,” she said today.  “This is too important — we cannot just sit on the sidelines and just say, ‘We know that it’s not going to pass, we know that we’re going to have a problem out of Harrisburg.’   We need to proceed.”

The two “no” votes came from two of the three Republicans on City Council: Dennis O’Brien and David Oh.  Oh says this matter rests solely in Harrisburg.

“Making any laws of that nature is a state function,” he says.

And Oh believes the measure penalizes those who have legal permits to carry guns: “What you’re really doing is fining legal gun owners and citizens who have carry permits, if they’re walking through a park or public property.”

Police officials say there have been more than 54 shootings at city recreation centers since 2010 (see related story), but they could not say how many involved legally permitted guns.  Oh believes none did.

The measure now goes to the mayor, whose signature is expected.

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