Harrisburg’s gun laws: Too much, or not strong enough?

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A gun owners' group is taking aim in the courtroom, filing a lawsuit Tuesday against the city of Harrisburg.

The lawsuit says Harrisburg's gun laws are illegal because only the state can legislate guns. Other cities are facing similar issues. But Mayor Eric Papenfuse has said he will not repeal the city's gun laws.

"The reason why we chose to go after Harrisburg also is because of how adamant and loud the Mayor has been about his desire to stand up and fight any sort of regulations, and he believes in it, so he's mounted the challenge and we're here to accept it," says Justin McShane, attorney for U.S. Law Shield, the gun owners' group behind the lawsuit.

Papenfuse did not comment on Tuesday. The city has five gun ordinances.

A retired State Trooper is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. He says cities' differing laws put law-abiding gun owners in jeopardy, because they vary so much.

"In 5 seconds you can be in one municipality or the other municipality and those laws change, you can find yourself an accidental criminal," says plaintiff Todd Hoover.

But in some places in Harrisburg, people die from gun violence on a regular basis. Also on Tuesday, a vigil held on South 16th Street in memory of Aquan Kemper, a 23-year-old man who was shot to death on Friday.

The group who holds the vigils is called Heeding God's Call, and activists pray and protest gun violence.

"What happens is someone with a clean record buys 100, sells it to someone else," says Hank Johnson of Heeding God's Call. "So when we ask for gun regulation again, it's how do we stop straw purchases, how do we stop people who shouldn't have guns from getting guns."

They say, whether it's the city or the state that makes the gun laws, current laws are ineffective in the main issue- stopping the spread of illegal guns.

"It's much too easy to get a gun today, than it is to even get a driver's license," Johnson says. "We're not trying to go after the hunters, or people who are gun collectors, we're trying to go after the laws that are lax, and getting the guns in the hands of people who shouldn't have them."


  • Gene

    There is already a Federal law againsr straw purchases. Does anyone seriously believe a local law will be more effective? If your intent is to commit a crime by purchasing a gun for another, one more law won’t dissuade you. Besides, in Pennsylvania, local gun laws are illegal. If authorities expect anyone to obey their laws they must obey the laws also. It’s called leading by example. In denying local governments the authority to pass gun regulations, the stated purpose of the legislature is to avoid a “patchwork quilt” of gun ordnances. This issue comes up time and time again in legislative sessions and is defeated each time. I guess Puff ‘n’ stuff just doesn’t get it or he feels the need to do some grandstanding now to begin his re-election bid.

  • Gene

    By the way, I have no issue with the substance of the laws he’s passed; but they should be addressed at thr state level. If he gets away with this, who knows what’s next? Only His Majesty.

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