Court Weighs Challenge to NRA-Friendly Gun Law
Judges in Pittsburgh on Wednesday heard a challenge to a new state law that lets third-party groups like the NRA sue cities if their gun ordinances are more restrictive than state law.
The law’s challengers, including Sen. Daylin Leach of Montgomery County, contend that it was passed improperly: The state constitution requires legislative bills to be about a single subject; the gun bill was passed, though, by inserting its language in a bill originally concerning scrap metal theft.
“It did seem to me that the judges were struggling in the way we’ve all been struggling to see what connection on planet Earth there is between criminal penalties for the theft of secondary metals and civil remedies against municipalities for gun ordinances,” Leach said outside the courtroom in the City-County Building, Downtown.
Attorney Nicholas M. Orloff, arguing in support of the law, said the scrap metal theft and gun provisions fall under the state’s criminal code. If someone is convicted of scrap metal theft, it would affect his or her ability to possess a gun, Orloff said, arguing the connection links the two.
“The single subject is amending the crimes code,” Orloff said.
Judges also seemed to be wrestling with that question. “What we’re struggling with is trying to come up with an explanation of how you bring these two subjects together,” said Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt.
But Judge Leavitt also expressed wariness about interfering in the legislative process.
“You’re really limiting the power of the Legislature to amend,” she told Mr. Masterson. “What’s the next step? Do we have a judge in the Legislature?”
The Post-Gazette notes that the law has enabled lawsuits against Pittsburgh and three other Pennsylvania municipalities.