Gun-Rights Groups Threaten Lawsuit if Pittsburgh Passes New Gun Control

Mayor and city council 'not above the law and will be held accountable for any action taken to enact these proposals'

The skyline of downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania / Getty Images
December 19, 2018

Gun-rights groups announced on Monday they would file suit against any new gun-control measures the city of Pittsburgh, Pa., passes that violate the state's preemption law.

The Allegheny County Sportsmen's League (ACSL) and Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC) said they would take immediate action against the gun-control proposals Mayor William Peduto (D) announced support for on Friday and which the city council is currently considering. The groups said Pennsylvania law prohibits local municipalities from passing laws stricter than what the state has authorized. They decried the potential action as dangerous and an assault on gun owners.

"We are pleased to have joined forces with Firearm Owners Against Crime to put an end to this dangerous attempt to damage the liberty of the residents of Pittsburgh," Klint Macro, president of ACSL, said in a statement. "The limitation, restriction, or destruction of our sacred Liberty is not acceptable. We must not stand by while elected officials assault the Rights of Law-Abiding Citizens. This is not only an assault on the Rights of the Citizens of Pittsburgh, but it is also an assault on the Liberty of everyone that calls Western PA Home."

The city council is currently considering three different gun-control measures. One would ban so-called assault weapons including rifles like the AR-15. The second would ban bump stocks, "armor-penetrating" bullets, and magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The third measure would institute Extreme Risk Protection Orders that would allow courts to temporarily seize firearms from people under certain circumstances.

The gun-rights groups contend restrictions like the ones Pittsburgh is pursuing must be done at the state level and would be illegal if instituted by the city. They point to language in the state's uniform firearms act.

"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," the law states.

The groups say violation of that law constitutes an overreach and would require legal action on their part.

"The actions of the City of Pittsburgh are an example of government run amok, shirking the law and the Constitution and citizen’s rights to advance agenda-driven gun control," Kim Stolfer, chairman of FOAC, said. "This is another, in a continuing string, of lawlessness to cover up for the fact that gun-free zones fail completely and that the duty of self-protection is the responsibility of law-abiding citizens and not an Orwellian overreaching government."

Adam Kraut, the group's lawyer, said the elected officials' actions are evidence of hypocrisy.

"Once again, we see another municipality attempting to enact ordinances to preclude individuals from violating existing law," he said. "The irony is that the same individuals who seek to impose these new regulations are themselves violating the law, showing the fallacy in their logic that criminal laws preclude criminals from committing criminal acts."