Lancaster City officials fight back after NRA lawsuit

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On Friday, the Lancaster Mayor and City Council had some harsh words for the NRA.

“We will never be bullied ever be bullied into not doing whatever we need to do to defend our people,” said Lancaster City Council Member James Reichenbach.

Lancaster City officials are pushing back against the National Rifle Association. The group filed a lawsuit against three Pennsylvania cities, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Lancaster on Wednesday. The suit challenges the cities’ gun laws claiming they’re unconstitutional. In Lancaster, the NRA is challenging an ordinance requiring residents to tell police if a gun they own is lost or stolen.

“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 Jonathan Goldstein, an attorney for the NRA.

Mayor Gray says no way. "We're not backing down. We feel strongly that we comply with the state statute and that they will lose this lawsuit," he added.

But if the NRA wins its lawsuit, Lancaster will have to pay all of the association's legal fees. The city is setting up a fund, with former Mayor Arthur Morris being one of the first donors. "I'm happy to contribute a thousand dollars today to the fund," Morris said.

Mayor Gray later matched that amount. "I would say to any gun owner not to be concerned about our actions. We in no way intend to infringe on their rights to lawfully possess or use a firearm," said Gray.

The state's largest gun violence prevention organization says this is about public safety.

"It was never meant to be a 'gotcha' for the law abiding gun owner who gets their gun stolen. It was meant to be a tool to keep those illegal guns off the street, to keep them out of the wrong hands," said Shira Goodman, Executive Director for CeaseFirePA.

8 comments

  • Gene

    Someone needs to tell the mayor it’s not about guns, it’s about obeying the law and not throwing a tantrum like a spoiled child who’s not getting his way. The only bullying going on here is on the part of those cities who force gun owners, who are acting completely within the law, to undergo a costly defense against those illegally passed local ordnances. It’s the height of irony that he accuses the NRA of bullying. How does it feel to have the other end of the stick, your Honorless?

    • OneMan'sOpinion

      Does this mean that you think it is too strict and unreasonable for owners of firearms to report them lost or stolen within 72 hours? Would it be too strict and unreasonable for parents to report a missing or abducted child within 72 hours? While it may be common sense to report a missing firearm or child within 72 hours, time and again it has been proven that there are those in this society that do not have that common sense. Who’s throwing the tantrum???

      • Gene

        Had you been able to comprehend my original comment you would realize that I’m not opposed to the law itself but it’s source. Any firearms laws must come from the Commonwealth legislature and not from some petty dictator acting on on his own. That’s what the law says, that’s what I say. Your interpretation of my comments means either that you are an ignoramus or you think the people are. It’s what Kipling was refering to when he wrote: “hear the truth you’ve spoken twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools”.

        • OneMan'sOpinion

          I’m comprehending that you are throwing the tantrum you accuse others of doing and that you do not know how municipal laws are enacted. Please recheck your assumption that “any firearms laws must come from the Commonwealth legislature” and get back to me.

          • Gene

            Assumption? Hardly, it’s a state law that is being ignored by thugs in office. Or perhaps you are not from Pennsylvania and don’t realize that. It has been mentioned in just about all the news articles about this story. In what way have I thrown a tantrum, unless it’s because we disagree and it’s all you have? It’s hardly a scholarly work to simply reverse a statement. Show some original thought in any future responses please.

          • Gene

            For your perusal: (let me know if you need help with the big words)
            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

          • OneMan'sOpinion

            For some reason, there are no “reply” buttons below your comments, so I reply here below mine.
            From your posting of the state law: Once a firearm is lost or stolen, it is no longer in the lawful possession of the owner. The courts will decide the translation further.
            Secondly, I declare you are having the “tantrum” that you accuse the mayor of having because you’ve come out guns-a-blazing against the mayor with name-calling and fail to recognize that it is the NRA that has accosted the city.
            One of the main points of gun rights advocates is that illegal gun possession is everywhere and the “law” should be preventing and prosecuting that. A local law was enacted to determine whether a firearm is no longer in legal possession of the owner. That firearm could possibly be in the hands of a criminal and the quicker this is determined, the better. Instead, it’s observed as coming down on legal owners. This is contradictory policy. It is to the benefit of all to know when a firearm is lost or stolen except to a criminal.
            We’re just going to have to let the courts decide the interpretation of the state law and whether the municipal law conflicts with it. As far as your snarky belittling of me and subtle name-calling, bully all you want. I respect your view that you think local law violates the state law. I disagree and have shown why. I do not resort to bashing the NRA or display anger over the challenge.
            If owners do not have the decency or the legal obligation to report a lost or stolen weapon, then I hope they can be held liable from the victims of any crimes committed with their property when they have failed to report it.

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