PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW | By Bob Bauder | Wednesday, March 28, 2012
A controversial gun bill drew criticism on Tuesday from several Pennsylvania mayors who say it would undermine local ordinances requiring firearm owners to report lost or stolen guns.
Sponsored by state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, the bill would permit gun owners who challenge such ordinances to collect legal fees and damages from municipalities.
Pittsburgh City Council in December 2008 passed legislation requiring owners of lost or stolen handguns to report them missing within 24 hours of discovering them gone.
The city's law department, however, issued an opinion the same month declaring the ordinance unenforceable, citing existing state law and legal precedence, as well as the city's Home Rule Charter.
Still, the ordinance remains on the books. In more than three years, police have yet to charge anyone with violating it, according to City Solicitor Daniel Regan.
"I am not aware of a set of facts that would have led to it being enforced," he said.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and several other mayors criticized Metcalfe's bill at the state Capitol. They blamed the state Legislature for failing to pass statewide gun-control measures.
"There's no theories here," Nutter said at a news conference. "No one is theoretically dying in Philadelphia -- 316 homicides last year, 85 percent with guns, all of which were illegal. That's what we're talking about. That's all that matters."
Metcalfe said his bill is intended to ensure compliance with existing state law banning local gun-control ordinances. He called the critics "brazenly arrogant."
"No elected official is above the law, and when they pass their own ordinance and ignore the state law they're putting themselves above the law," Metcalfe said.
His bill is pending in the House.