As everyone in Pennsylvania ought to know by now, former governor Tom Corbett signed the bill containing Act 192 during the tail end of the legislative session. The last-minute addition concerns not penalties for metal theft, as the rest of the bill does, but a provision allowing individuals and gun groups to sue local communities over their gun laws. The plaintiffs don’t even have to be local, and they certainly no longer require proof of injury to make a case. Furthermore, writes educator Tom Lees in an opinion piece for The Times Herald, “our municipalities get the thrill of paying the [plaintiffs’] legal fees” if they lose. “However, if the municipalities win, the [plaintiffs don’t] have to pay the municipalities’ legal fees. Isn’t that nice? Not really.”
The passage of Act 192 has gun groups, including the National Rifle Association, planning to sue Pennsylvania towns and cities. Some townships and municipalities have already amended or repealed laws they fear might incur the NRA’s wrath. But Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Lancaster are among several communities issuing a legal challenge to the bill, asserting that it violates the state constitution’s requirement that a bill pertain to a single subject.
“As an example of the impact of Act 192,” adds Lees, “the city of Lancaster is being sued by the NRA ‘over its 2009 ordinance that requires gun owners to report lost or stolen guns to the police.’ What – the NRA with its hundreds of millions of dollars is coming into our state to force municipalities to drop ordinances such as Lancaster’s that require gun owners to report lost or stolen guns? What is the proper word here – insane, diabolical, disgusting, disgraceful?` I have relatives who are hunters who have rifles. What does letting some person in Lancaster report a stolen gun have to do with infringing on their Second Amendment rights. Absolutely nothing – of course. The mayor of Lancaster has said that he has to decide between the safety of his citizens and the destruction of his city’s budget.”
Mr. Lees urges all Pennsylvanians interested in decreasing gun violence to support those fighting Act 192, including Senator Daylin Leach and the gun violence prevention organization CeaseFirePennsylvania, and to vote out all the state legislators who voted for the act.