Act 192, signed by Gov. Tom Corbett on Nov. 6, has municipalities across the state rethinking their gun laws in fear of lawsuits from the NRA and other like-minded organizations.
The Act permits residents and organizations such as the National Rifle Association to sue municipalities that enact their own gun restrictions outside of state laws, opening the door to being forced to pay legal fees if they lose a lawsuit, in addition to any monetary damages.
Munhall borough is the latest municipality to bow to pressure from the threat of a lawsuit. Munhall councilors are preparing to repeal an ordinance regarding lost or stolen guns that requires gun owners to report their lost or stolen weapons within three days after noticing they are missing. It was passed about two years ago.
“Firearms are regulated by the state, and there (were) challenges raised to these local ordinances, whether or not local governments have the authority to regulate firearms,” borough Solicitor Greg Evashavik said at this month’s council meeting. “Recent legislation confirms that they may not.”
Not everyone was happy about taking the action. “It’s not something I ever intended to do,” Councilman Bernie Shields said of repealing the ordinance. “The borough can’t afford any lawsuits. It’s the smart thing to do.”
Council president Dan Lloyd is quite happy that the law is being rescinded. “This law was passed as a crime prevention measure,” he said. “It does absolutely nothing to prevent crime, as a gun used in a commission of a crime can make an unknowing victim out of an innocent person whose gun was stolen. I made a passionate argument against passing it, but if it sounds good and feels good, and it’s popular, council will enact it rather than take the time to analyze the workings of an ordinance. I was the only no vote.”
Other boroughs are also bowing to pressure and repealing stolen gun laws. West Mifflin council rescinded its lost or stolen gun ordinance earlier this month, and Homestead council is expected to do the same at its January meeting.
Open carry laws and other common-sense measures are also being rescinded.
Doylestown Council reluctantly voted Monday night to advertise the repeal of an ordinance prohibiting the discharge of firearms except in self-defense and two other laws barring the open carrying of guns in public parks and parking lots. The proposed repeal is expected to be approved at the January council meeting.
Threatening lawsuits is the new way for the right to intimidate cities, states, and even universities into compliance. The lawsuits are repealing laws or policies that often were put into place by local voters.
It’s an easy and effective way for the NRA to override the will of the people.
The NRA hasn’t even filed any papers for lawsuits yet — but they’re already getting their way — with dozens of municipalities preparing to repeal laws and bend to their wishes.