PA State Appeals Court Rules Against Setting Tougher City Gun Ordinances
A state appeals court ruled last week that Philadelphia officials cannot enact gun laws tougher than Pennsylvania state law.
The ruling effectively throws out city ordinances that would have limited gun purchases to one a month and banned assault weapons.
Citing from the decision, Another Philadelphia gun ordinance later came before this court and then our Supreme Court [in 1996]. In Ortiz, the cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia passed ordinances banning certain types of assault weapons. Our Supreme Court characterized the matter before the courts as follows:
The sum of the case is that the Constitution of Pennsylvania requires that home rule municipalities may not perform any power denied by the General Assembly; the General Assembly has denied all municipalities the power to regulate the ownership, possession, transfer or possession of firearms; and the municipalities seek to regulate that which the General Assembly has said they may not regulate. The inescapable conclusion, unless there is more, is that the municipalities attempt to ban the possession of certain types of firearms is constitutionally infirm.
President Judge Bonnie Brigance Leadbetter wrote in the court's ruling, "While we understand the terrible problems gun violence poses for the city and sympathize with its efforts to use its police powers to create a safe environment for its citizens, these practical considerations do not alter the clear pre-emption imposed by the Legislature.
A 1974 state law says that only the General Assembly can regulate guns.
City Council passed several gun-control ordinances on April 10 and were signed into law by Mayor Michael Nutter.