City Council Introduces New Gun Bills, Advocates Threaten Lawsuit

Dec 19, 2018


  Pittsburgh City Council introduced new legislation on Tuesday that will ban certain firearm accessories, ammunition and modifications within city limits. Those who violate the law, for example, by possessing large-capacity magazines or silencer, could be fined $1,000 for each violation.  

The legislation is supported by Mayor Bill Peduto, Gov. Tom Wolf and seven councilmembers. Councilors Theresa Kail-Smith and Darlene Harris did not sponsor the legislation. Harris said she has to look at the legalities of it and ensure that “it’s not going to be something that's going to cost taxpayers dollars.”

“I need to hear from our legal office, I need to hear from other attorneys that I talk to,” Harris said. “There will be a public hearing and I’ll cast my vote.”

In 2008, the city passed legislation, sponsored by Peduto, that requires gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms within 24 hours. However, as mayor, Peduto has declined to enforce the rules, saying that doing so would invite a lawsuit. Council President Bruce Kraus, who voted yes on the 2008 bill, said it was too soon to discuss how the new proposals would be enforced, since they could be amended.

“We have a series of debates that will come up regarding this through the introduction of public hearings and post agendas,” Kraus said. “So, the legislation could possibly change by the time it is ultimately passed and that could affect the enforcement. So perhaps we'll talk about enforcement a little bit further down the road.”

Kim Stolfer, president of Firearm Owners Against Crime, said the legislation is unconstitutional and the group will sue the city if passed.

“We're going to prepare our legal options; we're going to see where that takes us and we're going to make sure they're held accountable one way or the other,” Stolfer said.

Kraus said council is prepared for resistance through the courts.

“If people wish to see this go through the court system, then it will go through the court system," Kraus said. "But it's not unusual when you're passing legislation. Everything is subject to review by the courts.”