Pennsylvania Senate approves bill to allow gun groups standing to sue municipalities
October 16, 2014 8:08 AM
Pennsylvania Sen. Larry Farnese, D-Philadelphia, opposed a measure that the Senate passed late Wednesday giving gun groups -- including the National Rifle Association -- standing in court to sue municipalities that enact their own gun laws.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
The state Senate approved a measure late Wednesday that would give gun groups -- including the National Rifle Association -- standing in court to sue municipalities that enact their own gun laws.
The amendment, which passed 32-16, has its origins in a legal battle between the city of Philadelphia and the NRA, which sued over gun control ordinances more restrictive than state law.
The courts struck down several of the city's gun ordinances, but upheld mandatory reporting of lost and stolen weapons. Some 30 other cities, townships and boroughs followed suit, passing lost and stolen weapons reporting ordinances.
Opponents say the proposal gives standing to "membership organizations" to sue without proving injury and collect legal fees regardless of the outcome.
"It is unprecedented in Pennsylvania jurisprudence ... and across the nation," said Sen. Larry Farnese, D-Philadelphia. "We're making history tonight. We are conferring rights and privileges to citizens of the United States to an association."
Mr. Farnese and other opponents say the bill gives special license to the NRA to push its agenda in Pennsylvania courts at the expense of local taxpayers.
“This is a mess!” said Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia.
"They are doing special interest's business, not the business of the people of Pennsylvania," he added.
"The NRA can sue our own people and we have to pay them," said Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, who said he represents seven municipalities with their own gun laws.
Bill supporters say they are acting on behalf of individual gun owners and argued that local gun laws are already illegal under the uniformity language in the Pennsylvania constitution..
"This is just clarifying current law," said Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson. "It's about consistency of gun laws."
“This is a good bill, the right bill for Pennsylvania, to protect the Second Amendment and the rights of law-abiding citizens of Pennsylvania," said the amendment sponsor, Sen. Rich Alloway, R-Franklin. "This is about individual rights."