Pittsburgh accepts Brady help to defend suit over gun law

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Pittsburgh Council voted today to accept an offer of legal help from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence in the city's court fight with the National Rifle Association.

The city will pay as much as $5,000 in expenses to the Brady Campaign, according to the resolution that got council's initial stamp of approval by a unanimous voice vote. The lawyers' time will be free. A final vote is likely Thursday.

The NRA is suing the city in Common Pleas Court to overturn an ordinance passed in December that compels gun owners to contact the police within 24 hours of becoming aware of the loss or theft of a firearm, or face fines and, for repeat offenders, imprisonment. Its sponsors argue that it's a way of keeping "straw purchasers" from selling guns illegally and then claiming they were lost when they're found at a crime scene.

The NRA views it as a violation of state laws that bar municipal gun controls.

Thanks to the Brady Campaign, the court fight "won't put a burden on the budget of the Law Department," said Councilman Jim Motznik.

City Solicitor George Specter said Tuesday that he believes the Brady Campaign lawyers will be "enormously helpful" in preparing pleadings. "They are highly skilled and knowledgeable in gun laws, not just in Pennsylvania, but everywhere."

Brady Campaign lawyers Jon Lowy and Daniel Vice will work with Mr. Specter and fellow city lawyers Michael Kennedy and John Doherty.


Rich Lord can be reached at rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542.


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