Editorial: Pittsburgh gun ban is politics’ fault | TribLIVE.com
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Editorial: Pittsburgh gun ban is politics’ fault

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Jenna Paulat of the North Hills, a member of the Pennsylvania chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, sits inside council chambers prior to the Pittsburgh City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 2, 2019. Council passed an assault rifle ban by a vote of 6-3.

On Tuesday, Pittsburgh’s council passed a package of laws that would ban some weapons within the city limits and regulate access for people deemed an “extreme risk.”

There are people who see this as a step forward in a nation where gun violence has become heartbreakingly commonplace while action to mitigate it has become mired in politics.

They are mirrored by those who see this as a troubling and precedent-setting overreach by a municipality into territory that is out of their control — legislation that should be left to the state and federal governments, both of which protect gun ownership in their constitutions.

It is framed as a this-or-that issue. Protect our children from school shootings or protect my Second Amendment right to bear arms. Prevent another Tree of Life massacre or prevent law- abiding citizens from being unfairly obstructed from defending their lives and property.

But it isn’t an either-or question. It is possible, like so many other big issues, to be both at the same time.

Pittsburgh has taken rare action in the wake of the deaths of 11 Jewish congregants in Squirrel Hill. In less than six months, council made a move that is frequently mentioned on a national level in the aftermath of a mass shooting but has yet to be seriously addressed by Congress.

Council took a stand. All nine of them — the six who voted for it and the three who voted against — listened to the pros and cons, debated the ups and downs, and voted their consciences. The process worked.

Except that it might be somewhat illegal. The state isn’t any more fond of giving up power over major issues, such as gun regulation, to the individual vagaries of its cities and townships and boroughs than the federal government is.

Which is why Pittsburgh shouldn’t have had to address it. Harrisburg should have. Washington should have.

These conversations should not have to fall to nine men and women in city government. The question of how do we protect our kids and our public spaces from random bursts of violence is not just a Pittsburgh question. The issue of how do we protect our liberties from encroachment by the government is not just about guns. The balancing of the two is a national imperative and a state responsibility, and the debate needs to start somewhere.

And if not Pittsburgh, where? And if not after the Tree of Life, when?

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