Pittsburgh Gun Rules Could Have An Impact
In early January, gun rights protesters gathered at downtown Pittsburgh's City-County Building - with assault rifles, other firearms, accessories and ammo. Despite participants being armed for bear, the protest was a peaceful one held to draw attention to proposed legislation that would ban certain firearms in the city. Protesters carried assault-style rifles in defiance of the proposed legislation, which would ban those rifles and place restrictions on multiple-round firearms.
The proposed legislation is prompted by recent shootings, resulting in multiple fatalities, at the Tree of Life synagogue last October. If passed, the ordinances could ripple out and have a statewide impact. They could also impact concealed carry licensees who own the firearms on the city's radar.
This issue with the proposed legislation, widely supported in Pittsburgh, is that state law prohibits local authorities from defining independent gun regulations. Federal law defers to the states on gun control regulations, and most states guard that privilege jealously. It's likely that the proposed legislation is meant as a test and may have a statewide impact if passed.
Proposed Gun Laws Protested in Pittsburgh
CNN reported that the proposed gun laws would ban assault weapons as well as extended magazines within the city limits. It would also give the courts leave to temporarily confiscate guns from people considered a threat to themselves or others.
The proposals, unveiled in December 2018, exactly six years after the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre, face legal challenges from the NRA and other gun-rights advocates. The state law forbidding local municipalities and counties from passing gun control laws is clear. However, proponents argue that the rules are necessary to prevent mass shootings and other murders committed by lawful gun owners. It's unclear whether the law, if passed, would ever be enforced. Therefore, the measure may be a test case to move the meter of public opinion toward changing the state law to include similar prohibitions.
Proposed banned weapons include rifles with a pistol grip, detachable magazine and folding stock. The legislation bans some firearms by name, including the AR-15 weapons. This weapon is a semi-automatic variation of an M-4 or M-16 used by armed forces personnel in wartime conditions. The proposals limit magazine capacity to 10 in detachable magazines and semi-automatic weapons.
The Tree of Life shooting is one of many in recent years, but it touched a chord with local residents, so the conversation about bans has resurfaced.
There have been several efforts at state and federal levels to amend and limit firearm accessibility. This local action is somewhat unique but not unprecedented. In 2015, National Rifle Association sued Pittsburgh and other municipalities that tried to pass these laws in the past. Suits typically falter over who has the right to sue and whom they are actually suing.
It's not clear if the new ordinances would play out any differently or how CCW licensees would be specifically impacted. The NRA has already promised to react if the proposed laws are enacted.