What a year, huh? The city of Philadelphia is once again challenging state of Pennsylvania’s preemption law. Last time around, they tried a “home rule city” tactic. That failed.
This time the approach is a little different.
Philadelphia city leaders are again filing a court challenge to the state’s prohibition on municipal gun regulations, this time joined by families of gun violence victims in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
The city, along with the Ceasefire Pennsylvania Education Fund and 10 family members, filed the lawsuit in Commonwealth Court on Wednesday, asking a judge to find that the state’s Firearms Preemption laws violate Pennsylvanians’ right to life under the state Constitution. The lawsuit seeking to clear the path for stricter municipal firearms regulations comes as a surge in gun violence has sent Philadelphia’s homicide rate to the highest level in more than a decade.
Given state Attorney General Josh Shapiro‘s own long-standing taste for Second Amendment violations, I suspect the real action in this case will be in the third party amicus briefs to the court. I have a few suggestions for those.
Perhaps the Firearms Policy Coalition could take note of the high number number of repeat offenders in Philadelphia’s criminal community, and ask how the city would suddenly persuade these crooks to start complying with their wished-for stricter gun control regime.
The Gun Owners of America might also note the repeaters, and point out that ending the city’s catch and release law enforcement policy would do far more to protect the right to life than new rules making it more difficult for honest, law-abiding citizens to defend themselves.
The Second Amendment Foundation might point out that state preemption keeps gun regulation uniform across the state. Yet somehow Philadelphia’s violent crime rate — operating under the same gun control laws — is three times the state average. Those gun laws in effect in the rest of the state aren’t the problem elsewhere; shouldn’t they be looking to see what else the city is doing wrong?
And just for once, the ACLU (I know) could set aside its distaste for the Second Amendment and consider the potential precedent of local jurisdictions making up laws as they go. They could raise the problems that presents under the equal protection clause, and ask how Pennsylvanians’ rights should differ based upon geographical location.
But expecting the ACLU to step in on a constitutional basis on behalf of rational gun regulation is just kooky talk.