PA Bill Number: HB1851
Title: In sentencing, further providing for sentences for offenses committed with firearms and providing for sentences for persons not to possess, use, ...
Description: In sentencing, further providing for sentences for offenses committed with firearms and providing for sentences for persons not to possess, use, ... ...
Last Action: Removed from table
Last Action Date: Oct 19, 2020
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Appeal by gun owners over city ordinances moved to Commonwealth Court :: 08/20/2020
The Pennsylvania Superior Court on Wednesday moved an appeal from four gun owners pursuing criminal complaints against Pittsburgh leaders who last year passed gun control ordinances to the Commonwealth Court.
A five-page opinion from the court states jurisdiction over the case lies with the Commonwealth Court because the gun owners are seeking to compel Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., “acting in his official capacity,” to accept the criminal complaints.
“As we have long stated, ‘we should be most cautious in assuming jurisdiction over matters that properly belong before the Commonwealth Court,’” the opinion states, citing a 1987 opinion.
The three gun control bills were signed last year by Mayor Bill Peduto in the wake of the October 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill. They would ban use of assault-style weapons and accessories at public places within city limits.
The ordinances would also allow the courts to temporarily seize weapons from those threatening to harm themselves or others..
The gun owners, all Pittsburgh residents, originally sought to file criminal complaints against Mr. Peduto and members of City Council for passing the gun control ordinances. The plaintiffs alleged the passage of the laws constituted official oppression under Pennsylvania law.
The district attorney refused to accept the complaints; the gun owners sued Mr. Zappala in Common Pleas Court, saying he was violating his official duties as DA by rebuffing them.
In October 2019, the trial court granted Mr. Zappala’s preliminary objection and dismissed the suit with prejudice. The plaintiffs then filed an appeal to the Superior Court.
The plaintiffs are Mary Konieczny of South Side Flats; Anthony J. Golembiewski of Lawrenceville; Christopher W. Humphrey of Stanton Heights; and Therese Thompson-Miles of Brookline.
The gun control ordinances have faced a number of legal challenges, including lawsuits backed by the National Rifle Association, and cannot currently be enforced because a Common Pleas judge ruled only the state can regulate firearms.
In late April, attorneys for the city of Pittsburgh asked Commonwealth Court to reinstate the firearms ordinances.
Mick Stinelli: email@example.com; 412-263-1869; and on Twitter: @MickStinelli