PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh officials said Monday that the city will not enforce gun legislation signed into law in April until a court rules on its legality.
The legislation -- which makes it illegal to load, brandish, display, discharge, point or otherwise use an assault weapon within the city -- passed a final Pittsburgh City Council vote 6-3 on April 2. One week later, Mayor Bill Peduto signed it.
The legislation -- which also gives courts the power to take weapons from people deemed to be a risk-- was set to take effect in June.
"Our residents have a constitutional right to life, and that outweighs a gun manufacturer's right to profit," Peduto said when he signed the bill.
The city could have begun enforcing the gun ordinances in about three weeks, but has now agreed to delay enforcement until a judge issues his decision.
“So that's consistent with the city's goal all along, which is to put this in front of the court, let the courts decide whether these ordinances are possible on PA law,” said Everytown Law’s Eric Tirschwell.
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Several groups, including Firearms Owners Against Crimes and a handful of gun owners have filed suit against the city, claiming the new laws are illegal and that only the state can regulate guns. The city claims the laws are unique and do not restrict ownership, but only use.
The director of Gunowners of America, Val Finnel, said the city had no choice but to delay enforcement.
“They would be putting themselves in a real legal bind, and a potential civil rights violations if they were to enforce such such ordinances,” said Val Finnel.
An attorney representing gun owners, Josh Prince, also raised questions about the city’s decision to bring in attorneys from Everytown, a nonprofit organization that advocates for gun control, to help fight the case.
“My concern is for the taxpayers. The city council and the mayor decided to take these actions knowing the harm to taxpayers and now they’re further harming the taxpayers by potentially paying for outside council to handle these matters when in fact they should have just addressed them internally through the law department,” said Prince.
But Everytown said that is simply not true.
“We are here representing the city. We do that at no charge. That’s already been discussed as a matter of public record,” Tirschwell said.
The judge in this case said he hoped to issue a ruling sometime this summer, but attorneys indicated it will likely be later this year.
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