Monday, October 6, 2008

Gray introduces missing handgun ordinance before City Council

Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray introduced a new firearm ordinance before Lancaster City Council's Public Safety Committee, Monday night.

The proposed ordinance would impose fines of up to $1,000 and jail time of up to 90 days for any any gun owner who fails to report a missing or stolen firearm within 72 hours of discovering its absence.

It provides penalties of that would require handgun owners to report lost or stolen handguns within 72 hours or face fines of up to $1,000 and/or jail time of up to 90 days.

In September, Gray told City Council that he is tired of counting the victims of gun violence in Lancaster and around the nation, and intended to propose an ordinance to this effect.

His comments last month came as news was unfolding that Philadelphia City Police officer Patrick McDonald had been fatally shot during a routine traffic stop.

The "first reading" for the ordinance will occur at City Council's next meeting on October 14. It would then be voted on at the October 28th meeting.

One Lancaster resident, however, questioned the wisdom of such an ordinance.

Erik Ek maintains that the measure amounts to a deprivation of the right to "keep and bear arms" under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

He added that state laws preempt local laws and that, in enacting such an ordinance, the city may be making itself vulnerable to litigation since organizations like the National Rifle Association (NRA) may be eager to challenge such laws in the courts.

Similar lawsuits have been filed elsewhere, including in the City of Philadelphia, where one case was dismissed because the judge ruled that the NRA did not have standing to challenge the ordinance.

Asked whether he feels the ordinance would expose the city to potentially costly litigation, Gray is not fazed.

"If I didn't act because I was afraid of someone filing a lawsuit, I'd never get out of bed in the morning," Gray told NewsLanc.

"You have to do the right thing and hope the courts agree."