Peduto eager to take on challengers to Pittsburgh’s proposed gun ban
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto on Thursday said he is looking forward to a promised legal battle over the city’s proposed gun ban and plans to immediately sign the regulations into law once City Council approves them.
Addressing the legislation for the first time in weeks, the mayor repeated a promise that the legal defense would cost taxpayers nothing. He said he has received commitments from a “team of attorneys both locally and nationally” to help the city fend off lawsuits and criminal complaints that Second Amendment advocates have vowed to file following passage of the bills.
“Once council makes that final decision, I anticipate signing those documents within one week,” Peduto said. “I realize that there will be those that will challenge this legally. We have been provided pro bono legal assistance. There will be no cost to taxpayers for that challenge, and we look forward to it.”
Council during a preliminary vote on Wednesday approved the legislation that would ban the use of military-style weapons, including assault rifles like the one used in October to kill 11 worshipers at Squirrel Hill’s Tree of Life synagogue. It would also ban certain firearms ammunition and accessories and permit courts to seize guns held by those deemed a public safety threat.
Three council members — Anthony Coghill, Darlene Harris and Theresa Kail-Smith — voted no on the bills. Among other things, they cited the cost of litigation.
Council is expected to pass the bills during a final vote on Tuesday.
Peduto said the state Legislature “tied our hands behind our backs” in passing a law that banned municipalities from enacting gun regulations under penalty of possible criminal charges. He said elected officials are protected with legislative immunity from facing charges.
“We believe not only is that law unconstitutional, it is un-American and un-Pennsyvanian,” he said.
He acknowledged a Second Amendment right to bear arms, but said residents of dense urban settings like Pittsburgh also have a constitutional right to tranquility. Use of assault rifles violate that right, he said.
“We have to be able to recognize that one person’s constitutional rights shouldn’t trample another person’s constitutional rights,” he said. “We’re not doing this as simply an exercise of trying to drum up support throughout the state, although that is part of the intent. What we’re doing is challenging the legality of the present rules and saying that there is a difference between law and justice. When we challenge laws for being unjust that’s how laws get changed.”
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter .