Editorial: Prosecuting Peduto for gun ban is wrong move
Six members of Pittsburgh’s city council and Mayor Bill Peduto have taken steps to change the law within their sphere of influence as applies to a certain class of weapon.
It was a big step. The U.S. and Pennsylvania constitutions both uphold gun ownership as a right. But both also impose limits and some hurdles that recognize — as with so many rights — it is also a responsibility not to be taken lightly.
Many believe Peduto and Co. have radically overstepped the boundaries of their authority. That may be right. It will no doubt be settled in a courtroom, as multiple lawsuits challenging the Pittsburgh gun ban have been filed. There are serious and valid reasons as to why they may succeed. A judge may decide that state law does preempt a city’s own guidelines, or that it violates either constitution (or both).
Where it shouldn’t be settled is a criminal courtroom.
Multiple city residents and others have attempted to file private criminal complaints against the mayor and council members.
The overlapping layers of our government include round robins of checks and balances at the local, state and federal levels. If an official in one area does something that is outside the lines, there are ways to take care of it.
Unconstitutional laws are passed in Washington or a state capital or a city hall all the time. Improper actions are recommended by mayors and governors and presidents. The remedy is not handcuffs. It is exactly the path the Pittsburgh gun ban is already following.
It isn’t up to the branch passing the law or the executive signing it to decide if it meets the constitutional bar. It’s up to the judicial branch to evaluate it and, if necessary, overturn it.
Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, has said he is pursuing impeachment of Peduto. That’s another check baked into the system.
As our society becomes increasingly polarized, we are more and more likely to demonize the people who oppose us. It is bad enough when we can’t have effective discussions with each other. It’s bad enough that compromise has all but disappeared. But criminalizing disagreement endangers us all.