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City Of Pittsburgh Urges Court To Reverse Its Ruling On Gun Laws

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Kathleen J. Davis
/
90.5 WESA
Mayor Bill Peduto speaks at a press conference announcing the bills on Friday, Dec. 14, 2018.

The City of Pittsburgh has filed legal briefs with the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, arguing that the courts should reverse previous rulings on the city’s controversial gun laws. The laws were passed in response to the Tree of Life shooting in October 2018.

In April 2019, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto signed a package of gun control laws. One bill banned the use of certain assault style weapons, like AR-15s, in the city. Another created a red flag law to allow firearms to be removed from individuals deemed a risk to themselves or others. A third penalized a firearm's owner if a minor accessed and used a firearm with the owner's knowledge.

In October, an Allegheny County judge struck down the city's laws, ruling that gun laws can only be changed by the state. In the briefs late last week, the city argued that the legislation was written narrowly to comply with state law.

“Pittsburgh residents expect us to do what we can to make them safer, and I’m proud of the steps we’ve taken,” Peduto said in a statement. “Public health research is on our side, Pittsburgh residents are on our side, and the law is on our side, too. It’s disappointing our efforts have had to come to this, but we’ll continue to show the court that our measures comply with every word of state law.”

Attorney Joshua Prince, who represents several gun rights groups, including  Firearms Owners Against Crime and Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League, said it's "truly unfortunate that the City ... continues to expend taxpayer money on a frivolous appeal regarding its illegal ordinances."

"The example that this sets for our youth — that it is acceptable to violate the law if you do not agree with it, instead of petitioning to have the law changed — is a stark reminder that the City and its elected officials believe they are above the law," Prince said in an emailed statement. "We are again calling upon District Attorney [Stephen] Zappala to file criminal charges of official oppression and for violations of state preemption against Mayor Peduto and those city officials that enacted these unconstitutional and illegal ordinances."