Pennsylvania Democrats are outraged after a bill was passed that allows gun rights groups like the NRA to sue localities for passing gun control measures that violate state law.
Many such Democrats said a provision forcing localities that lose lawsuits to pay the legal fees of the plaintiffs is particularly objectionable.
“This is a dangerous provision that threatens municipalities’ financial stability,” Rep. Madeleine Dean (D., Montgomery) told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“If you are a resident of Forest County and you don’t like the Norristown gun law, you could hire Johnnie Cochran and bill a township $100,000 an hour or whatever he charges to win the case,” Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery) said.
Former Democrat Governor and Mayor of Philadelphia Ed Rendell called the bill “outrageous.”
Pennsylvania state law explicitly states that localities may not create their own gun laws. Section 6120 of the state’s Uniform Firearms Act says “no county, municipality, or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth.”
Localities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have passed gun restrictions despite that language. That’s why backers of the new bill say it is necessary. “This is just clarifying current law,” Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson) told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It’s about consistency of gun laws.”
“We can’t have a crazy quilt of laws,” said Rep. Jeff Pyle (R., Armstrong) said.