NRA files lawsuit against Lancaster over gun ordinances; Mayor Gray calls it ‘disgusting’

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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.

3 comments

  • Ira Poontang

    Mr. Gray may not like it but he, just like the democrat in the White House, have over stepped their authority and need to be reigned in. Good on the NRA.

  • Edgar Stephan

    First it is NOT a new state law, It has been on the books for decades but had no teeth to it. The law that was passed (HB2011) was a revision to the existing law to allow recourse to recoup money that was spent defending against an already illegal law… It now allows injunctive, financial and punitive relief to those harmed by county, municipality or townships that decide it is ok to disobey state law.
    Here is the text of PA 18 Pa.C.S. § 6120: Limitation on the regulation of firearms and ammunition.
    (a) General rule.–No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth.
    (a.1) No right of action.–
    (1) No political subdivision may bring or maintain an action at law or in equity against any firearms or ammunition manufacturer, trade association or dealer for damages, abatement, injunctive relief or any other relief or remedy resulting from or relating to either the lawful design or manufacture of firearms or ammunition or the lawful marketing or sale of firearms or ammunition to the public.
    (2) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit a political subdivision from bringing or maintaining an action against a firearms or ammunition manufacturer or dealer for breach of contract or warranty as to firearms or ammunition purchased by the political subdivision.
    (b) Definitions.–As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:
    “Dealer.” The term shall include any person engaged in the business of selling at wholesale or retail a firearm or ammunition.
    “Firearms.” This term shall have the meaning given to it in section 5515 (relating to prohibiting of paramilitary training) but shall not include air rifles as that term is defined in section 6304 ( relating to sale and use of air rifles).
    “Political subdivision.” The term shall include any home rule charter municipality, county, city, borough, incorporated town, township or school district.
    HB2011 added:
    (a.2) Relief.-–A person adversely affected by an ordinance,
    a resolution, regulation, rule, practice or any other action.
    promulgated or enforced by a county, municipality or township.
    prohibited under subsection (a) or 53 Pa.C.S. § 2962(g)
    (relating to limitation on municipal powers) may seek.
    declaratory or injunctive relief and actual damages in an.
    appropriate court.
    (a.3) Reasonable expenses.–A court shall award reasonable.
    expenses to a person adversely affected in an action under.
    subsection (a.2) for any of the following:
    (1) A final determination by the court is granted in.
    favor of the person adversely affected.
    (2) The regulation in question is rescinded, repealed or.
    otherwise abrogated after suit has been filed under.
    subsection (a.2) but before the final determination by the.
    court.
    “Person adversely affected.”
    Any of the following:
    (1) A resident of this Commonwealth who may legally.
    possess a firearm under Federal and State law.
    (2) A person who otherwise has standing under the laws.
    of this Commonwealth to bring an action under subsection.
    (a.2).
    (3) A membership organization, in which a member is a.
    person described under paragraphs (1) or (2).
    “Reasonable expenses.”
    The term includes, but is not limited.
    to, attorney fees, expert witness fees, court costs and.
    compensation for loss of income

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