By Miriam Ward
Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia. Besides all being a part of the State of Pennsylvania, these three cities share another connection: they are being sued by the National Rifle Association.
On Thursday, the NRA announced a lawsuit against the cities of Lancaster, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia over their firearm ordinances. Specifically in question for the city of Lancaster is a 2009 law that requires gun owners to report a missing or stolen gun within 72 hours or face jail time.
While the laws the NRA is targeting are, in some cases, years old, the litigation comes now because the NRA gained a new political tool in the state of Pennsylvania this past year. On November 6th, 2014 Governor Tom Corbett signed into law Act 192 that permits organizations, such as the NRA, to sue municipalities over firearm ordinances. In addition, the law also requires the municipality to take on the legal fees of the organization, if the lawsuit is successful.
Following the passing of the Act 192, NRA spokesman John Hohenwarter issued a warning to municipalities of Pennsylvania, saying, “They have nothing to fear if they take the laws off the books.”
Municipalities such as Lancaster, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia, however, took no legislative action against their existing firearm ordinances.
After the new law took effect on January 5th of this year, the NRA did not miss a minute to take advantage and file a lawsuit. Lancaster's mayor, J. Richard Gray, issued this response:
“We refuse to be bullied into compromising the safety of the people of Lancaster. We believe we will win that lawsuit and we will defend our local ordinance against today's attempt by the NRA to intimidate us with this lawsuit. To the NRA leadership, its lobbyists, and its members, my message is simple: The City of Lancaster will not take away your gun if you own it and use it legally.”
Philadelphia, Lancaster, and Pittsburgh are headed to court to fight the giant NRA. However, according to the Associated Press, more than 20 other Pennsylvania municipalities already have moved to repeal their existing firearms ordinances, after threats of litigation.
The NRA’s lawsuit comes just a few days after the announcement that some of the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre filed suit against the town of Newtown and the school board.
Watch this space.