In the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Problems with Pittsburgh’s proposed gun control ordinance

19 Jan , 2019  

Dr. John Lott’s newest piece in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review discusses Pittsburgh’s proposed gun control laws. The piece starts this way:

Pennsylvania’s 1.3 million concealed handgun permit holders may soon be considered criminals while visiting Pittsburgh. The proposed gun control ordinance bans everything from so-called assault weapons to starter pistols for track meets.

The ordinance prohibits citizens from carrying guns except on their property or in their homes or “fixed place of business.” There is an exception to the ban that would allow permit holders to carry, but there is just one problem. The exception clause refers to and depends on a nonexistent statute.

Is this an honest mistake or an underhanded way to ban concealed carry? The mayor and city council members have been informed of the “mistake” multiple times, but have refused to rewrite the ordinance. The result will be a ban on carrying guns for any reason outside of one’s home or business.

If you don’t have that permit, you will be committing a crime by taking a gun from a gun store to your home. Pittsburgh police could simply wait in gun store parking lots and arrest most of the people when they leave the store.

But the ban doesn’t stop at real guns. It also encompasses, “Any toy, antique, starter pistol or other object that bears a reasonable resemblance to an operable firearm, or any object that impels a projectile by means of a spinning action, compression or CO2 cartridge.” Your 10-year-old son will be committing a crime by carrying a brightly-colored Nerf gun. No one would ever confuse such a toy with a real gun, but it fires a foam projectile and is thus covered by the ordinance.

Some parts of the ordinance are useless, such as the requirement that people show a photo ID to any individual or business that they buy ammunition from. Even assuming that the seller remembers whom he sold the ammunition to, what would the police do with that information?

The assault weapons ban is just as pointless. It is modeled after the federal ban that was in place from September 1994 to September 2004. Peer-reviewed papers by economists and criminologists have failed to find a benefit from the federal law.

None of the weapons banned under the 1994 legislation or the proposed Pittsburgh ordinance are “military” weapons. The killer at the Pittsburgh synagogue used a Colt AR-15 rifle and three Glock .357 handguns. The Colt AR-15 bears a cosmetic resemblance to the M-16, which has been used by the U.S. military since the Vietnam War. The call has frequently been made by Gov. Tom Wolf and Mayor Bill Peduto there is “no reason” for such “military-style weapons” to be available to civilians.

Yes, the Colt AR-15 rifle is a “military-style weapon.” But the key word is “style” — it is cosmetically similar to military guns, not in the way it operates. The guns covered by the federal ban and the proposed ordinance are not the fully automatic machine guns used by the military, but semiautomatic versions of those guns.

At least there would be some logic to banning all semiautomatic guns, rather than listing specific models to ban based on how they look. Semiautomatic weapons also protect people and save lives. Single-shot rifles may not do a lot of good when facing multiple criminals or when a first shot misses or fails to stop an attacker.

Pittsburgh’s proposed ordinance is poorly written. Possibly that was the intent so as to create an even more extensive set of gun bans than anyone intended, but the real victims will be the defenseless law-abiding citizens of Pittsburgh.

The rest of the piece is available here.


4 Responses

  1. Matt Russell says:

    Of course, notwithstanding it’s totally illegal for the city of Pittsburgh (or any city in PA) to do this as the state of PA has preemption rights governing firearms law:

    “The authority to regulate firearms is reserved to the state, except local municipalities may regulate the discharge of firearms within the cities boundaries.
    [18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6120]”

    Similar as in other states such as CO with cities like Boulder continuing to defy these state preemption laws.

    • johnrlott says:

      The problem is that with Democrat liberals now completely dominating the state Supreme Court there is the belief that laws don’t really matter. Just as it didn’t matter with the recent redistricting decision. Pittsburgh just hopes that the court will ignore the previous consent decree and the obvious state law.

    • Jeff says:

      Absolutely correct. It’s a sham our governor, Tom Wolf doesn’t know or doesn’t care that he is also on the side of the Pittstburgh chamber and will also be breaking the law IF this goes through. Guess we’ll just have to get a new governor too.

  2. Ciara Rose says:

    We must remember this, the governor WANTS THE SAME AS THE MAYOR. He is actively pushing for these bills to become law as we speak. If the governor gets his wish, then ALL OF PA will be affected. The DA has stated that the public can file a criminal complaint against the mayor and any member of city council that votes yes to this. Perhaps if hundreds (or better yet thousands) of us get together and file, zapalla would HAVE to act on it. We, as citizens of Pennsylvania, need to ban together and not only stop the mayor of Pittsburgh, but the governor as well. The time is NOW to act; if we wait, then we have lost.

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