HARRISBURG PATRIOT NEWS | By CHARLES THOMPSON | March 27, 2012
Four Pennsylvania mayors gathered at the Capitol this morning to lobby against a bill that, they believe, would further limit their abilities to fight against gun crime on their streets.
The mayors voiced opposition to House Bill 1523, a bill sponsored by Rep. Daryl Metcalfe that would give legal standing to gun owners and groups like the NRA to challenge local laws requiring reports to be filed with police on any lost or stolen handguns.
Cities, including Harrisburg in 2009, have adopted the local laws after efforts to get a statewide reporting law failed in the Legislature.
The laws are seen as more symbolic than anything -- to date no one has been prosecuted under Harrisburg's ordinance.
But opponents see them as violating provisions that require regulation of guns to be the exclusive province of state government, and they want to nip that precedent in the bud.
Efforts to challenge the city ordinances have faltered in court to date thus far, however, largely because without prosecutions plaintiffs have not been able to convince the courts they have legal standing to sue.
The mayors, who argue the ordinances do not interfere with lawful gun ownership because the weapons in question are by definition lost or stolen, said they see the bill as a direct attack on their ability to attack crime on their streets.
"For any of us to face financial penalties (from a suit brought under the Metcalfe bill) makes no sense whatsoever ... when we should be providing more funding for public safety," said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
Metcalfe's bill passed through the House Judiciary Committee in February, but a spokesman for House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny County, said it is not expected to get a floor vote in the House before lawmakers break next week for the April 24 primary.
The bill would then still have to pass through the Senate