Pittsburgh argues that gun ordinances do not represent outright ban
A lawsuit filed by four city residents over Pittsburgh’s controversial gun ordinances should be dismissed because it does not prevent them from carrying a loaded gun in the city, the city argued in a court brief filed this week.
Attorneys for Pittsburgh argued that the four plaintiffs “rushed into court” and sued based on an “erroneous assumption,” according to a legal brief filed with the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas on Tuesday.
“Plaintiffs’ case is premised on the erroneous assumption that the Ordinance prohibits the mere carrying of a firearm loaded with a (large capacity magazine),” the city argued. “It does not. Instead, the Ordinance much more narrowly prohibits only the use of an LCM — or the use of a firearm loaded with an LCM — in public places in Pittsburgh.”
Laurence J. Anderson, Scott Miller, Robert R. Opdyke and Michael A. Whitehouse sued the city with assistance from the National Rifle Association on April 9, hours after Mayor Bill Peduto signed the gun ordinances. They could not be reached for comment Thursday. Their attorney, Thomas Pellis of Greensburg, did not return a phone call seeking comment.
The plaintiffs contend that the city is violating a Pennsylvania law by banning the use of large capacity magazines. The lawsuit alleges that guns come standard with magazines of that size and cites a state law prohibiting municipalities from regulating the “ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms.”
The ordinances prohibit the use of certain semi-automatic firearms, ammunition and accessories, including magazines that can hold more than 10 bullets. One of the bills give courts authority to seize firearms from a person deemed by police or relatives to be a public threat.
Pittsburgh City Council crafted the ordinances following the deaths of 11 people last year at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill. The ordinances drew sharp criticism from Second Amendment advocates who contend the city is violating state law and the Pennsylvania and U.S. constitutions.
Firearm Owners Against Crime and several other advocacy groups have also sued Pittsburgh over the gun regulations. That lawsuit also is pending in county court.
“A regulation on ‘use’ is distinct from any of these four categories of pre-empted regulation, and is defined in the Ordinance expressly to make clear that it does not include ‘possession, ownership, transportation or transfer,’ ” the city’s brief says.
The brief contends that council and the mayor have an obligation and right to protect residents from gun violence.
“Pittsburgh’s elected leaders found that gun violence ‘presents a significant and undeniable public safety risk’ and ‘both the City and the Commonwealth have a moral imperative to take lawfully available steps to reduce it,’ ” the city argued.
Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-564-3080, [email protected] or via Twitter .