By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Mayor Nutter and a host of other Democrats from across Pennsylvania are going to Commonwealth Court, trying to overturn a bill signed into law by Governor Corbett last month.
The measure makes it easier for gun rights groups to sue Pennsylvania cities or towns that enact their own gun restrictions.
“This is legislative madness,” said Mayor Nutter today during a press conference in City Council chambers. “Under Act 192 it is now riskier for cities to act on matters of unlawful gun possession related to violence than it is to act on a zoning matter.”
Act 192 was approved by the Republican-controlled state legislature and signed by the governor last month. The challenge to Act 192 was filed by the cities of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Lancaster, as well as three Democratic state senators from this region and two state representatives.
One of the lawmakers, state senator Daylin Leach (below), says Act 192 was improperly folded in to another bill by the GOP leaders in Harrisburg.
“This provision was specifically designed to be a gift to the National Rifle Association,” Leach said today. “The way this bill was passed was such an egregious violation of the basic rules of legislating that we felt to compelled to act.”
Supporters of Act 192 say the measure is meant to ensure that gun laws throughout the commonwealth are consistent.
For example, more than two dozen Pennsylvania cities and towns have laws that require residents to report lost or stolen firearms, something that is not required by state law.
But Lancaster mayor Richard Gray, at the Philadelphia press conference (below), said Act 192 is meant to intimidate smaller municipalities who might not be able to afford to fight litigation over local gun laws.
“This bill is nothing more than an attempt by the NRA and the gun lobby to bully smaller communities — and larger communities,” Gray said.
In the past, courts have ruled that the NRA or other groups do not have legal standing to file challenges against local gun laws on their own. The groups would then have to find residents who claim they were harmed by the gun law in order to challenge it.
Act 192 would give the NRA or other gun rights groups that legal standing without the need to include a local resident in the suit. And the municipality would have to pay the entire legal bill if the city loses the challenge.
KYW Newsradio did not receive a response to our request for comment from spokespeople for the NRA or the state House speaker, Sam Smith.
A spokesman for state senate majority leader Dominick Pileggi, who was not named in the suit, had no comment.