PA Bill Number: SB546
Title: In general principles of justification, further providing for use of force in self-protection.
Description: In general principles of justification, further providing for use of force in self-protection. ...
Last Action: Referred to JUDICIARY
Last Action Date: Apr 9, 2021
Pittsburgh supports Philadelphia in lawsuit against state Firearm Preemption Laws :: 04/07/2021
Pittsburgh city officials this week threw support behind a lawsuit filed last year in Philadelphia challenging Pennsylvania’s Firearm Preemption Laws, alleging they keep the city from combating gun violence and “have forged a state-created danger.”
The brief, filed Monday in support of the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state laws, accuses the Pennsylvania General Assembly of perpetuating gun violence in the state through its restrictions on local-level gun laws.
“Were it not for the General Assembly’s actions (and inaction),” attorneys for the city wrote in the brief, “Pittsburgh’s residents … would be safer today.”
The lawsuit, filed in Commonwealth Court in October by Philadelphia and residents impacted by gun violence, names the General Assembly as a whole, as well as former Sen. Joe Scarnati, then the President Pro Tempore of the state Senate and Rep. Bryan Cutler, speaker of the state House of Representatives.
Pittsburgh’s brief in support of the lawsuit points to the case of Zykier Young, a 1-year-old killed by a stray bullet as he slept in his crib in his family’s North Side apartment. Young’s killing happened the same week as 10 other shootings across the city that left four dead.
“These individual tragedies are part of a larger tale,” attorneys wrote, pointing to the 499 firearm homicides in Pittsburgh in the decade from Jan. 1, 2010, through December 2020.
“Preemption laws,” according to the brief, “take away the city’s ability to combat gun violence.”
Specifically, attorneys said, the preemption laws made legal the type of assault-style weapon used in the 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue. City legislation passed in 1993 banned such weapons, but a legal challenge a year later shot down the prohibition.
Sweeping gun legislation passed by Pittsburgh City Council in the aftermath of the synagogue shooting was meant to fit the narrow definitions in the preemption laws, including a caveat dictating the legislation take effect only if the state preemption statutes are changed.
An injunction forced the city to put that legislation on hold while challenges move through the court system.
“Yet again,” the city’s attorneys wrote, “the city’s residents are less safe as a direct result of the Firearm Preemption Laws.”
The brief was filed in conjunction with Everytown Law, the litigation arm of the group Everytown for Gun Safety.
Spokespeople for the state’s General Assembly were not immediately available for comment.