Gun Safety Bills Draw Ire of Firearms Rights Groups

| December 22, 2018

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – A package of what the Wolf administration is calling “common sense gun safety measures” introduced to Pittsburgh City Council this week has drawn sharp criticism from gun rights advocates.

The bills – which include an assault weapons ban; an accessories, ammunition and modification ban; and adoption of Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs) – have been met with indignation from a number of firearms rights groups.

In a widely shared Facebook post, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action called the legislation “a ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms, a ban on common firearms accessories and standard capacity magazines, and a procedure to confiscate firearms without due process.”
A further article published by the NRA Institute for Legislative Action says the measures “constitute a direct violation of Pennsylvania’s state firearms preemption law and Pennsylvania Supreme Court precedent.”

According to an Action Alert on the Firearms Owners Against Crime (FOAC) website, Firearms Industry Consulting Group filed a letter in opposition to the proposals on behalf of FOAC and Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League.

The letter outlines the groups’ legal arguments, stating that by Pennsylvania law, no municipality may regulate firearms or ammunition, and goes on to argue that the law has been interpreted by the state Supreme Court to mean that only the General Assembly can regulate firearms.

“In the event Pittsburgh enacts these proposed unlawful ordinances, ACSL and FOAC are prepared to take legal action against the City,” the letter states.

“We are pleased to have joined forces with Firearm Owners Against Crime to put an end to this dangerous attempt to damage the liberty of the residents of Pittsburgh,” Klint Macro, president of ACSL, said in a statement. “The limitation, restriction, or destruction of our sacred Liberty is not acceptable. We must not stand by while elected officials assault the Rights of Law-Abiding Citizens. This is not only an assault on the Rights of the Citizens of Pittsburgh, but it is also an assault on the Liberty of everyone that calls Western PA Home.”

Copies of the proposed laws on assault weaponsaccessories/modifications, and ERPOs are available to the public.

Governor Wolf, Pittsburgh City Leaders “Calling Out” for Safer Communities

“I wanted to be here as a show of solidarity with those here and those across our commonwealth, all calling out for safer communities,” Governor Wolf said. “Earlier this year, I signed the first major gun safety bill in decades in Pennsylvania. It was long overdue, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

Gov. Wolf signed the domestic violence gun safety bill in October. The law includes additional safeguards to help protect victims of domestic violence, including prohibiting abusers with a final protection from abuse (PFA) order from possessing firearms and requiring them to turn in their guns to a law enforcement agency immediately while the order is in effect; eliminates the concerns about an abuser giving a gun to a family member or friend; requires a PFA to be served by the sheriff or duly authorized deputy sheriff; and allows for the time that an abuser is incarcerated not to be counted for the 90 days of a temporary PFA.

Governor Wolf also announced the allocation of more than $1.5 million in funding to eight Pennsylvania municipalities for the 2018 Gun Violence Reduction Initiative. The funding was awarded through a competitive solicitation as part of a Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency program to provide municipalities with funds to implement strategies resulting in the reduction of gun violence in communities.

He announced in October that $1 million had been awarded to Pennsylvania for over 70 schools to implement violence prevention programs through the Sandy Hook Promise, which was created after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and Governor Wolf created a School Safety Task Force that issued a report with recommendations on how to make the state’s schools safe. In addition, the General Assembly allocated $60 million in the state budget via the School Safety and Security Committee for grants to schools across the commonwealth to address their unique school safety needs.

The measures were announced on Friday, December 14, the sixth anniversary of the Newtown, Connecticut massacre of 26 school children and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The city hopes that the bills will be signed by February 14, 2019, the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting of 17 schoolchildren and staff in Parkland, Florida.

Public hearings and a preliminary vote on the bills are expected by mid-February.

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