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Pittsburgh moving hearing on gun ban to first floor of City-County Building, Downtown |

Pittsburgh moving hearing on gun ban to first floor of City-County Building, Downtown

Bob Bauder
| Wednesday, January 23, 2019 5:34 p.m
Pittsburgh City Council President Bruce Kraus said the city would change the location of a public hearing on a proposed gun ban.

Citing public safety concerns, Pittsburgh officials Wednesday announced a change of location for Thursday’s highly anticipated public hearing on a proposed gun ban.

The hearing will be held on the first floor of the City-County Building on Grant Street, Downtown, but the city will provide seating only for disabled people, said council President Bruce Kraus of the South Side.

“At this time, there will not be seating in place, but there are seats along the wall that will be (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant for people that need that capacity to be able to sit at any point in time,” Kraus said.

“We want to make certain that our accommodation to process people that wish to register comment is as customer-friendly and as quick and orderly a fashion as possible.”

Pittsburgh City Council hearings are normally held in Council Chambers on the building’s fifth floor, but officials approved the change anticipating a crowd that could exceed an occupancy limit of 200 people in the chambers.

Kraus said 86 people had registered to speak as of Wednesday. Each will be allotted three minutes, according to council rules.

The deadline to register is 3 p.m. Thursday.

“If people do come that are not registered, of course, the tradition is to take them and to give them one minute to speak,” Kraus said.

The hearing cannot be broadcast live as normal on the Pittsburgh Cable Network because of the location, but Kraus said it will be taped and broadcast later.

Peduto and council proposed bills banning semi-automatic weapons and certain firearms accessories and ammunition after a mass shooting Oct. 27 at Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill, in which 11 worshipers were murdered.

The bills have drawn wide criticism from gun activists, who have threatened to sue and seek criminal charges against the mayor and council should they pass.

State law prohibits municipalities from enacting firearms regulations, but Peduto has said the city intends to challenge the law in court.

Kennedy resident Val Finnell, 50, on Wednesday delivered petitions to Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr.’s Office with nearly 8,000 signatures opposing the gun ordinances and calling for criminal charges against Peduto and city council members.

This month, Zappala wrote a letter to Pittsburgh City Council questioning its authority to regulate firearms and warning that members could be charged criminally for passing the ban. Mayor Bill Peduto on Tuesday was highly critical of Zappala’s letter.

Finnell, a member of Firearm Owners Against Crime, said several people have volunteered to file private criminal complaints should council pass the ban. He said he would deliver the petitions to council during Thursday’s public hearing.

“It’s on,” he said. “We’re not backing down.”

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, or via Twitter @bobbauder.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, or via Twitter .

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