Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Philadelphia Gun Law Challenge–Split Decision

The case pending in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court on whether or not to allow Philadelphia City Council to enforce their own gun laws has met with a split decision by Common Pleas Judge Jane Cutler-Greenspan.

Judge Cutler-Greenspan shot down the city's attempt to limit gun purchases to one per month, citing that the state already had provisions for preventing "straw purchases". She also struck down the assault weapons provision, deferring to a PA Supreme Court Decision from 1996, (in summary):

Ortiz v. Commonwealth, - Pa. - (1996)
In this case the Penn. supreme court strikes down local bans on "assault weapons" in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The court decides that the state has preempted the area of possession of firearms, and that the preemption is legitimate, as it concerns a matter of statewide concern. The court decides it is a matter of statewide concern because the Pa. constitution protects the right to possess firearms statewide, and does not permit abridgement of the right in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia. (Click here to read the court decision, in toto.)

Greenspan gave city officials a consolation prize by declining to strike down three other laws on procedural grounds, indicating that the NRA and other plaintiffs did not have legal standing to challenge those laws.

During hearings, Greenspan indicated that she agreed with the NRA's position that superceding state laws prevent the city from regulating guns in any way.

The three laws Greenspan allowed to stand allow judges to remove guns from people declared to be a risk to themselves or others, prevent people subject to protection-from-abuse orders from owning guns, and require gun owners to report the loss or theft of a gun to police within 24 hours. (Article by Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer staff writer).
The court's decision to allow the other three provisions to stand was procedural, based solely on the fact that the NRA could not file lawsuit as they did not have legal standing to challenge the laws.

Expect this to be challenged at the Supreme Court level.

And so it continues...


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