EDITORIAL | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | June 13, 2012
Then those Things ran about
With big bumps, jumps and kicks
And with hops and big thumps
And all kinds of bad tricks.
Thus did Dr. Seuss describe the destructive play of Thing One and Thing Two in "The Cat in the Hat." The state Legislature, decidedly less cute than the cat, also has a Thing One and Thing Two. Talk about bad tricks.
Thing One was Senate Bill 273. Its original purpose was to establish the so-called Castle Doctrine for gun owners, a kindred spirit to the expansive law that Florida passed only to see a neighborhood watch member shoot to death a youth walking home because the gunman said he felt threatened.
Pennsylvania did get its Castle Doctrine law passed and signed by the governor last summer, but the vehicle for that was an identical measure, House Bill 40. The discarded Senate Bill 273 was left seemingly for dead.
Recently it was resurrected as Thing Two in the House Judiciary Committee. The old language was replaced with provisions that would give groups like the National Rifle Association legal standing to sue municipalities that have passed "lost-or-stolen" ordinances. The plaintiffs could extract damages and attorney's fees for the crime of local governments caring about the safety of their communities.
In the absence of state action, 30 communities, including Pittsburgh, have passed such ordinances to curb the problem of "straw purchases," in which criminals barred from buying guns acquire them through third-party owners who, if challenged, lie and claim the weapons were lost or stolen.
While lost-or-stolen laws do not stop anyone from owning a gun, they insist that gun owners act responsibly and report missing guns within a reasonable time. But reasonable is not what groups like the NRA are about.
After being gutted and replaced to fit a new purpose, Thing Two (aka SB 273) passed the Judiciary Committee. If it passes the full House, it will go to the Senate, which can pass the bill promptly because the Senate has acted on it before -- and never mind that it was almost entirely different then.
Gutting and replacing may be legal, but it mocks proper parliamentary procedure and shows a deep contempt for the wishes of municipalities. Unfortunately, it seems both are child's play to lawmakers in Harrisburg.
Read more here: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/opinion/editorials/bad-tricks-a-state-senate-bill-tips-its-hat-to-the-gun-lobby-640101/