In response to national gridlock over gun laws in the past few years, many cities and towns across the nation have passed their own laws to restrict access and use of firearms in their municipalities. However, thanks to local legislation in some states such as Pennsylvania, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is actively fighting new gun ordinances by suing the cities with these ordinances in place.
Cities in the Keystone State, such as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Lancaster are currently in legal battles with the NRA. The 5-million members strong nonprofit argues that that some Pennsylvanian cities’ local gun laws violate 5th amendment rights. Now, thanks to new legislation passed by the Pennsylvania state government, The NRA’s ultimate goal is to repeal the gun ordinances in court, or to intimidate cities to voluntarily repeal the ordinances. With new laws potential changing the way ammo and guns are purchased many are seeking out 5.56mm NATO ammo before new laws shut down the opportunity to buy.
The Pennsylvania legislature, spurred on by NRA lobbyists, passed a new law in November 2014, referred to as Act 192. The new law allows for any Pennsylvania resident or larger firearm-rights group to which they belong to challenge local gun laws in court. Moreover, if the resident were successful, the city or town must cover any legal fees associated with the case for both plaintiff and defendant as consequence. Because so much is at stake for smaller cities who may not have the revenue to pay expensive court fees in the case of NRA-won rulings, many, such as Norristown and Franconia, have rushed to do repeal the ordinances before charges are filed.
But hope isn’t lost just yet for Pennsylvania cities and towns hoping for less gun-related crime. Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Lancaster have filed a lawsuit of their own against the state on the grounds that Act 192 violates the state constitution. The cities are arguing that because the law was tacked onto an unrelated issue–a law which dealt with the theft of scrap metals–it violates the state’s bar against passing unrelated laws in the same bill. The lawsuit is currently pending in Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court.
For now, we shall see how this entangled legal battle plays out in a state with a 3% increase in total firearm murders every year, a statistic which might not seem as threatening as it is. Placing another statistic in perspective, a total of 470 firearm-related murders occurred in the state, accounting for 74% of the total murders.