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Gun Control Bills To Be Introduced To Pittsburgh City Council, But State Law Poses Issues

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

Assault weapons and some types of ammunition and accessories would be banned in Pittsburgh under new legislation to be introduced to City Council Tuesday. A third bill in the package would temporarily prohibit a person from having guns if a family member or law enforcement deems the person to be a risk to themselves or others.

Councilor Corey O'Connor said all members of City Council are on board with these pieces of legislation, and will try to get them passed before Feb. 14 -- the first anniversary of the Parkland, Fla. school shooting.

"We expect that some people are going to come out and fight [this]," O'Connor said. "But I think we want to fight for the rights of our citizens and we'll take it whatever level we have to."

The bills have support from Mayor Bill Peduto, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and gun control advocates.

O'Connor said the plan is to build a statewide coalition of municipalities aimed at enacting stricter gun legislation. He said there is support from other cities, but declined to name specifics.

Even if the bills pass, legal wrangling over them will continue. Pennsylvania law expressly states that municipalities are not permitted to "in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components."

State Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Squirrel Hill) is gathering support for legislation that would change that. 

He acknowledged that passing gun control measures in the past has been difficult in Harrisburg, but said the midterm election showed people want this to happen.

"We added over 31 new members to the legislature, many of them Democrats, who ran on the issue of gun safety and common sense gun laws," Frankel said. 

Pennsylvania's House and Senate are both controlled by Republicans.