The National Rifle Association filed a lawsuit Wednesday against three Pennsylvania cities. The suit challenges Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Lancaster. It claims the cities established gun control ordinances that are unconstitutional.
There's a new law on the books in the state. It allows citizen groups, or anyone for that matter, to challenge municipalities in court. Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray says he saw this coming once it passed the legislature last year, and he didn't like it from the start.
Gray has strong words for the NRA.
"It's pretty disgusting, really," said Gray.
He's practiced law for 45 years and he says he's never seen anything like it.
"It infringes on the right of the people who govern themselves on the local level," said Gray.
This new law has been a back and forth battle over the past few weeks. Those for the law say it was originally put in place to protect those who pack heat when traveling from one part of the state to the other. The same three cities sued by the NRA have also filed lawsuits against the state claiming lawmakers didn't follow constitutional procedure for passing the legislation.
Specifically in Lancaster, the NRA is challenging an ordinance that requires residents to tell police if a gun they own is lost or stolen. Mayor Gray calls that ordinance a proactive measure.
"This is aimed at people who traffic and firearms who sell firearms illegally. And it's also aimed at giving us our police as early notice as possible that firearms are in illegal circulation," said Gray.
Gray calls the lawsuit legal blackmail. Under law if the NRA won its suit, Lancaster would have to pay all of its legal fees. An attorney for the NRA said that expense could stop before either side walks in a court room.
"All they have to do is convene a session of their city council, repeal these ordinances, pass it to the mayor and he signs it. It's totally within their control and exclusively within their control how expensive this gets," said NRA attorney, Jonathan Goldstein.
FOX43's legal analyst Steven Breit thinks the NRA has a case.
"The states do regulate the use and possession and anything having to do with a firearm. Local ordinances have been developed to try and curtail those rights of gun ownership, legal gun ownership. What you have here is a trumping of local ordinance overriding state law," said Breit.
Lancaster has 20 days to file an answer to the court and explain why it thinks the NRA's argument is wrong. Gray says money isn't an issue, he's already received private offers to help the city finance the lawsuit.