Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gray withdrawns gun ordinance pending state court rulings

When Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray first proposed an ordinance a few weeks ago to penalize gun owners who do not report missing firearms in a timely manner, he exuded a brazen confidence about setting an example and challenging the state to do the same - almost challenging opponents to try and stop him.

But after further consultations with the city solicitor, Gray isn't so sure anymore.

On Tuesday he withdrew the proposed ordinance from consideration pending the outcome of a state court case that will hopefully clarify whether there is a defensible legal ground for a municipality's passing such an ordinance.

Opponents have suggested that the proposed ordinance would violate the rights of gun owners and may run afoul of section 6120 of the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act, which states that "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" (known as "preemption").

Which is precisely why Gray has withdrawn his ordinance - which would impose penalties on gun owners who fail to report a missing firearm within 72 hours of discovering that it is missing - pending disposition of state court cases that will clarify whether or not the city can reasonably pass such a measure without making itself vulnerable to litigation.

Gray did not know the name of the court cases off-hand and offered to share that information with NewsLanc later in the week.

"The state should have the guts to step up to the plate [and pass a law themselves]," he insisted. For now, the city ordinance is on the back burner.