Pittsburgh councilman moves to ban guns in city parks despite opposition
Pittsburgh Councilman Dan Gilman said he was astonished last month to see people carrying assault rifles in Mellon Park.
Gilman, whose council district includes the East End park, said the group showed up during a series of protests that broke out in Pittsburgh following a violent Aug. 12 clash between white supremacists and counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville, N.C.
The Squirrel Hill Democrat said he was unaware that the city had no ordinance prohibiting firearms in city parks. Gilman hopes to change that Tuesday by introducing legislation that would ban firearms in the parks.
A South Fayette man, who represents a statewide gun-owners group, said state law prohibits municipalities from enacting gun regulations.
Kim Stolfer, president of the group Firearms Owners Against Crime, noted that Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court last year overturned an ordinance enacted in Lower Merion Township near Philadelphia that prohibited people from carrying unlicensed firearms in its parks.
“Pennsylvania's preemptive law completely takes away their power to make any local ordinance against firearms,” Stolfer said. “If they do this, they are committing a criminal offense.”
Gilman said his legislation mirrors state law that prohibits people from carrying uncased guns in state parks except in areas designated for target shooting or hunting during hunting season.
“We are literally copying and pasting the law that covers every state park, including Point State Park,” he said.
Gilman added he was amazed that city code prohibits everything from kicking sand in parks to alcohol consumption and open fires, but contains no language addressing firearms.
“I was unaware of this until the protest,” he said.