Pittsburgh's new gun control laws crash and burn

Something has gone terribly wrong in Pittsburgh, and for the first time in a while, we’re not talking about the Steelers. Gun control advocates managed to push through a raft of new gun laws earlier this year. These included bans on “assault rifles” and extended capacity magazines. They also passed their own version of a red flag law. The bills were immediately challenged by gun rights groups and affected individuals and the case was heard by a judge in Allegheny County. This week he rendered his decision, shooting down every one of them. (Free Beacon)

A Pennsylvania judge ruled on Tuesday that Pittsburgh’s recently passed gun-control measures violate state law.

In his ruling, Allegheny County judge Joseph M. James said the city’s ordinances were in plain opposition to a state preemption law which prohibits localities from passing their own gun laws…

The Pittsburgh ordinances restricted the use of certain rifles, like the AR-15, within city limits, banned the use of magazines which hold more than 10 rounds, and creates a process to confiscate firearms from those accused of being a threat to themselves or others.

We’ve run into this scenario in Pennsylvania before and it’s always played out the same way. The judge, in this case, wasn’t ruling on the constitutionality of the laws under the Second Amendment or even the standing of the plaintiffs. His decision was based solely on the state’s Uniform Firearms Act, passed in 1995. This law gives the state preeminence over cities, towns and counties when it comes to gun control legislation.

The law simply states that all of Pennsylvania will operate under the same set of gun control laws, rather than a patchwork of restrictions that vary from county to county or town to town. The law was intended to provide uniformity of enforcement and prevent gun owners from inadvertently running afoul of the law when traveling inside the state.

Nothing in the Uniform Firearms Act prevents new gun laws from being passed in the Keystone State. It just requires any changes to be made by the state government rather than any local legislation. If the defeated bills’ proponents want these laws put in place, they will need to go to their state lawmakers and petition them to take care of it at the state level.

That’s certainly possible, given the even demographic split of this purple state. But they don’t call the interior counties “Pennsyltucky” for nothing. Democrats and liberals hold a huge advantage in the urban areas of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, but the massive, less populated region in between those cities is filled with plenty of conservatives and gun owners. (Just ask Joe Biden.) Pushing through a package of gun control bills like the ones that were just rejected in Pittsburgh is going to be a heavy lift.