Editorial: Pittsburgh gun law isn’t a scrimmage
The preseason is when a team warms up, stretches and tries things out.
Let’s see how this guy does as a quarterback. What if we pair up these two offensive players on the same line? It’s a way to do a test run on something before the score matters.
So it’s possible to see what Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto meant when he compared the first court challenge to the city’s hotly contested gun ordinances to a “preseason in sports.”
The ordinances have not yet been put into place. Anything that happens in or out of court with them at this point doesn’t change the day-to-day of Pittsburghers who own the firearms that are targeted.
But the mayor isn’t quite right.
Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Joseph James’ ruling is actually more like the flag on a play in the first quarter where Pittsburgh kicked off, and the opponents — challenging the ordinances on Second Amendment grounds — picked up the ball and ran with it.
There is no preseason in a situation like this because none of it is unimportant.
To dismiss it all as a scrimmage where the score doesn’t count is to say, in fact, that the ordinances themselves don’t matter. That’s not how it works.
A court battle and its opinions and appeals are very much like football. There are plays and defenses that are planned out like the invasion of Normandy. Each round of arguments is meant to advance by inches until one side gains enough ground to move on to the next set of downs or, in this case, another court.
A ruling against one side might result in a penalty that loses metaphorical yards, but still leaves the ball in their hands to make a new argument that might score.
“I’ve said from the very beginning, no matter what the outcome was with Common Pleas, either side was going to appeal, and I believe this gets appealed all the way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court,” the mayor said.
That’s where he is right. It is unlikely either the city or its opponents will decide to give up at halftime. The stakes are too high on both sides, with lives and safety balanced against laws and rights.
Peduto and the city officials did not get into this fight believing it would be easy. They chose it — despite fierce opposition — because they believed it was important. The organizations and individuals challenging it believe in their position just as fervently.
Let’s not pretend any of this is an exhibition game against a throwaway opponent.