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Suit filed over gun controls inspired by synagogue shooting

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    Daniel Leger, left, and Andrea Wedner, both survivors of the Tree of Life synagogue shooting, embrace after Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto signed three gun-control bills into law, Tuesday, April 9, 2019, at the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh. (Steph Chambers/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

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    Family members Tree of Life synagogue shooting victims listen to Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto after he signed three gun-control bills into law, Tuesday, April 9, 2019, at the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh. (Steph Chambers/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

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    Leigh Stein, daughter of Tree of Life synagogue shooting victim Dan Stein, wipes away a tear as Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto signs three gun-control bills into law, Tuesday, April 9, 2019, at the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh. (Steph Chambers/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

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    Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, surrounded by supporters and family members of Tree of Life synagogue shooting victims, signs three gun-control bills into law, Tuesday, April 9, 2019, at the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh. (Steph Chambers/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

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    Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto shakes hands with supporters and family members of Tree of Life synagogue shooting victims after he signed three gun-control bills into law, Tuesday, April 9, 2019, at the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh. (Steph Chambers/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette via AP)

Published April 10. 2019 08:34AM

PITTSBURGH — Gun rights groups sued Tuesday to block Pittsburgh from enforcing firearms legislation passed after a mass shooting at a synagogue, accusing city officials of blatantly defying the state’s prohibition on municipal gun regulation.

Democratic Mayor Bill Peduto signed the bills into law in a ceremony at the City-County Building, declaring the community had come together “to say enough is enough.” City officials said they had to act because the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania Legislature — which is planning to hold a memorial service for the victims this week — will not.

“We are going to take some action, we are going to do something positive and, yes, it is going to be everlasting,” said Peduto, surrounded by gun-control advocates and members of three congregations that were targeted in the shooting rampage at Tree of Life Synagogue. “Change only happens when you challenge the status quo.”

Minutes later, a coalition of gun rights groups sued to get the newly minted laws overturned, calling them “patently unenforceable, unconstitutional, illegal.” Shortly after that, a second lawsuit, this one backed by the National Rifle Association, declared that “Pittsburgh has violated the rights of its citizens.”

“Worse yet, Pittsburgh has committed this violation without any realistic prospect of diminishing the ... incidence of horrific mass shootings,” said the suit, filed by four city residents. “All it will do is leave law-abiding citizens more vulnerable to attack from better-armed and more ruthless assailants.”

The new legislation restricts military-style assault weapons like the AR-15 rifle authorities say was used in the Oct. 27 massacre that killed 11 and wounded seven. It also bans most uses of armor-piercing ammunition and high-capacity magazines and allows the temporary seizure of guns from people who are determined to be a danger to themselves or others. The first two laws are due to take effect in 60 days, the imminent-danger law in 180 days.

Whether the city will be able to enforce them is an open question. State law has long prohibited municipalities from regulating the ownership or possession of guns or ammunition, and courts have thrown out other local firearms measures, including a 1990s-era assault weapons ban in Pittsburgh.

But city leaders said they were eager to take on the fight, given the Legislature’s traditional reluctance to pass gun legislation.

“This fantasy that somehow the state is going to step up and help us is simply not going to happen,” said Council President Bruce Kraus.

The bill signing took place as state lawmakers prepared to come together for a memorial service for the Tree of Life victims. The unusual joint session at the Capitol in Harrisburg on Wednesday will bring together the House and Senate for prayers and speeches about the attack. Peduto’s spokesman said the timing was coincidental.

The Pittsburgh bills — proposed not long after the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. history — were weakened ahead of City Council passage in an effort to make them more likely to survive a court challenge. While one of the bills originally included an outright ban on assault weapons, the revised measure bars the “use” of assault weapons in public places.

A full ban on possession would take effect only if state lawmakers or the state Supreme Court give municipalities the right to regulate guns, which is seen as unlikely in a state where a majority of legislators are fiercely protective of gun rights.

The city will be represented in court by lawyers with Everytown for Gun Safety, a group backed by billionaire Michael Bloomberg.

In another legal filing Tuesday, the Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League asked a judge to hold the city, Peduto and six council members who voted for the gun-control legislation in contempt of court, contending they violated a 1995 legal settlement in which city officials dropped the earlier effort to ban assault weapons and agreed to “abide by and adhere to Pennsylvania law.”

“It is unfortunate that ... taxpayers will be burdened by the city’s elected officials believing it is acceptable — and even gloating — that they are violating the Pennsylvania Constitution and Crimes Code,” Joshua Prince, a lawyer seeking to overturn the laws, wrote in a statement.

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Rubinkam reported from northeastern Pennsylvania.

Comments
No going to happen. The NRA is Anti-Jew and every Deviant Republican palm has been thoroughly greased for decades.
What are you talking about? Oh... Dog Whistles, right?
DO must wear yoga pants... cherishes the "Stretch".
Please cite this far stretched comment with facts. Facts confuse folks like you, but give it a try, could you?
DO you are a downright dirty fraud. The NRA is not anti-Semitic. That statement is fully incorrect. The NRA is an advocate of gun safety. Gun safety involves taking weapons from crazy nut-jobs like you and these mass killers. The NRA defends the existing gun rights of law abiding citizens that are challenged with every tragedy like this. “No going to happen (sp)”...as you say. NRA members never do these crimes. It is always crazy liberal nut-jobs exactly like you. You have a long established record of mental illness that should disqualify you from the sacred right of gun ownership. You are a fraud. America is great.
DO:

I sure hope it gets rejected. Thank God for the NRA! Make America Great Again.

That NRA anti-Jew thing is old, tired and has been beat to death. For everyone else Wayne LaPierre (President of the NRA) took a few swings at proponents of gun control. The biggest (most visibly) proponents now are George Soros and Mike Bloomberg. So leftists and extreme right wingers inferred that the NRA is anti semitic. There's plenty of Jewish NRA members. There's even been Jewish NRA presidents.

Yes, all palms are greased especially the Democrat palms. Like the Clinton Foundation receiving 145 million dollars for helping the Russians purchase a 20% interest in the United States Uranium holdings.

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