The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Editorial Board published a scathing criticism of the state legislature’s decision to approve a bill, surreptitiously hidden in an unrelated measure concerning metal theft, allowing the NRA and similar groups to sue cities and towns over their strong gun laws. Defendants will be forced to cover the plaintiffs’ legal costs.
The law will hamper local efforts to deal with illegal guns in a state that does little to help cities beset by violence. About 30 communities in Pennsylvania have passed laws requiring gun owners to tell police when weapons are lost or stolen,” writes the Board. “Responsible gun owners have no trouble with this requirement. The laws are aimed at so-called straw buyers, who purchase guns for felons who can’t legally buy guns for themselves. About 85 percent of the murders in Philadelphia are committed with guns, many of them purchased illegally.”
In 2008, the National Rifle Association sued Philadelphia over its lost-and-stolen reporting requirement, but a court found the group had no legal standing to do so. Supporters of the bill cited the state constitution’s provision that state law supplants local legislation, as well as Second Amendment rights.
But “is the right to bear arms the same as the right to buy arms for violent criminals? The legislature and governor also have a duty to families who lose loved ones to gun violence and live in neighborhoods where gunfire is routine.”