The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence has pledged to help the City defend a much scrutinized gun ordinance from an NRA lawsuit that seeks to challenge the City’s right to create this sort of legislation. The Center is taking the case for no charge.
The Ordinance was passed in the wake of several high-profile shootings, but has been the target of recent scrutiny by the NRA and other gun rights advocates.
The ordinance, punishable by $500 fines for first offenders and $1,000 fines and possible jail time for second offenders, was meant to combat gun traffickers. The amended ordinance states that “No person who is the owner of a firearm that is lost or stolen shall fail to report the loss or theft to an appropriate local law enforcement official within 24 hours after discovery of the loss or theft.”
Opponents of the ordinance say that the new rules conflict with the Pennsylvania State Code, which states that "No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms."
But Councilman Bruce Kraus believes that the city has the right to enforce this legislation because once a gun is stolen, it is no longer lawfully owned, and thus not subject to the protections of section 624.01 in the state code, which limits regulation.
“The debate that has arisen is whether we have the ability to do that,” Kraus said. “I believe we do.” He also said that he was hoping to form a coalition of municipalities that have passed similar laws, and listed Allentown, Reading and Pottsville as other cities that have similar ordinances.
Kraus has said that responsible gun owners should know where their guns were at all times, especially if their intended purpose was for self-defense or home defense.
“A responsible gun owner knows where his gun is at all times,” he said. “If you wake up to confront someone in your home at three in the morning, they are not going to give you time to look for your gun.”
A similar law enacted in Philadelphia along with several other gun control laws in the city, were argued in court, with the state siding against the city.
There might be changes in the state law for gun regulation, however. In Pennsylvania House Bill No. 1044, which has been introduced but yet to be acted upon, municipalities would be allowed to petition for an exemption from state law when certain conditions are met, including if “The regulation is not less restrictive than the provisions of this chapter for such ownership, possession, transfer or transportation” and “demonstrates a compelling reason for the exemption” among other criteria.