On Monday, the House approved an NRA-backed bill, by a vote of 138-56, that will grant legal standing to individuals and “membership organizations” to sue towns and cities over local gun laws and collect legal fees if they win.
Before the vote, Mayor Nutter said he was “profoundly opposed” to the bill, as he believes it makes municipalities fighting gun violence more vulnerable to lawsuits by gun rights advocates. Governor Corbett has said that he will sign it despite widespread objections.
“Gun violence represents a particularly tragic epidemic in poorer communities in cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh,” said Nutter in a joint statement with Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto. “Parents, family members, and community leaders are naturally compelled by concern for their loved ones to do everything in their power to combat the shootings that destroy lives. It is squarely at some of these responses by the community that H.B. 80 is now aimed.”
Boroughs, cities and townships across Pennsylvania began passing local ordinances meant to crack down on illegal gun trafficking in 2008 after the General Assembly did not act on a statewide measure to curb straw purchases. The bill will take effect sixty days after it is signed.
“This is a dangerous provision that threatens municipalities’ financial stability,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean (D., Montgomery). She represents Abington, which passed a lost-or-stolen resolution.
Former Governor Ed Rendell, who has worked with the gun violence prevention group CeaseFirePennsylvania, has vowed to target supporters of the measure in the November election. “This bill is outrageous,” he said last week. “People all over the commonwealth support the basic notion that someone who loses their firearm should report it.”