Judge blocks 3 of Harrisburg’s gun laws; mayor calls it “incomprehensible”

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A Dauphin County judge blocked the city of Harrisburg from enforcing some of its gun laws Wednesday. The city is in the midst of a legal battle with the gun owners’ group, U.S. Law Shield.

U.S. Law Shield is suing the city because the group says its gun laws illegal, based on the state’s Uniform Firearms Act, which says only the state can legislate gun ownership. The group got standing to sue the city under Act 192, which went into effect this year.

The judge’s injunction keep the city from enforcing three of its five gun regulations. They’re the ordinances that prohibit the possession of guns in parks, during a state of emergency, and by an unaccompanied minor.

“To have a judge say, as was said in the order today, that you should be able to carry arms unsupervised, within the city of Harrisburg because they might possibly need to go hunting, is really incomprehensible,” says Mayor Eric Papenfuse.

The two that were not blocked prevent the discharge of a gun within the city and mandate reporting of lost or stolen guns.

“What we’re talking about are common sense ordinances which are incredibly important to the residents of this city,” says Papenfuse, who said he was “disappointed” by the injunction. “We are surrounded by an epidemic of gun violence, widespread use of illegal guns, including by our youth.”

But U.S. Law Shield says the city’s laws didn’t help its illegal gun problem. Its attorney says the city is wasting money defending itself. Under Act 192, Harrisburg will be on the hook for the group’s attorney’s fees. Those are already approaching six figures, and the city could have to pay up to $250,000 based on its insurance deductible.

“So what you have in front of you is a choice, Harrisburg,” says attorney Justin McShane. “You can either continue to fund a dead loser of a lawsuit or you can build. You can build a community center for the amount of money that will be involved.”

The mayor says the city will need to decide what to do next. He is awaiting the Commonwealth Court’s decision on Act 192, and believes it will be found unconstitutional.


    • Maggie Ahrens

      Came here to say this, exactly.

      Moreover, a “State of Emergency” can cover a ton of ground including weather disasters, epidemics, and political upheaval. (protests)

      Sorry – it’s when I *can’t* depend on police that I need to be able to defend myself.
      I have a first aid kit, but I hope nobody is hurt.
      I have a couple of cans in the pantry, but I hope nobody goes hungry.
      I have a firearm that I train with, but I hope I only ever shoot paper at the range.

      This article here covers some of the problems post-Katrina (including checkpoints that confiscated legally-held weapons) but mostly it does a pretty good job at laying out the layers of chaos, and cutting through the BS. Very even handed and fair critique with what went wrong, and a lot of time and detail explaining what did NOT happen or was grossly over represented by the media – like the gun snatching by cops.


  • Frederick Altland

    I just can’t believe the mayor owns a book store and doesn’t know about the Bill of Rights ie The Second Admendment.

  • OneMan'sOpinion

    The damn nerve of Harrisburg. If I want my 8-year old to carry a gun so that the bullies and child predators don’t get him, then he ought to be able to carry a gun dammit. He’s top shooter on his online video game. Now, if I could only find that gun cabinet I left in the garage three years ago, I could have him carry the assault rifle to the park tomorrow. You never know when the verdicts of high-profile cases will cause riots. Oh well, the rifle will turn up somewhere and then I’ll shoot at some pesky rats running into the basement window of my neighbor’s home.

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