WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence announced today its Legal Action Project attorneys will defend Pittsburgh against a National Rifle Association lawsuit seeking to strike down a new ordinance aimed at stopping gun trafficking. The Brady Center is taking the case pro bono and will not charge the city any legal fees for the representation.
The NRA lawsuit seeks to invalidate Pittsburgh’s anti-trafficking law that prevents illegal gun traffickers from falsely claiming that their guns were lost or stolen when their guns are used in crimes. When guns are recovered at crime scenes and traced back to a gun trafficker, the traffickers frequently claim that the guns were “stolen” to hide their complicity in gun trafficking. The law requires that gun owners notify police when their gun is lost or stolen, which also aids law-abiding gun owners by enabling police to quickly investigate and retrieve stolen guns.
“The NRA’s leaders say we should just ‘enforce the laws on the books’ - and then they sue to stop the enforcement of common sense laws,” said Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Center. “Law-abiding gun owners should have no problem reporting to the police when their guns go missing. This gun-lobby lawsuit threatens a reasonable common-sense law, and can only help gun traffickers and criminals.”
Pennsylvania gun violence prevention organization CeaseFirePA has aided cities and towns in Pennsylvania in passing laws to stop gun violence. “CeaseFirePA applauds the courage of the Pittsburgh City Council members who stood up to protect their city from gun violence by passing a lost or stolen handgun reporting law,” said CeaseFire PA Executive Director Joe Grace. “It’s outrageous that the NRA’s only response to the recent shooting that cost three Pittsburgh police officers their lives was to file a lawsuit to block Pittsburgh’s right to protect its citizens and police from the danger posed by illegal guns. Thanks to the Brady Center, Pittsburgh will now have skilled counsel to defend the city’s right to protect itself by passing this reform to help police get illegal guns off the street.”
Surveys show that at least 500,000 firearms are stolen from residences across the country every year. A study by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) found that more than 11,000 guns had been trafficked after being stolen from their owner in a two year period, and that stolen guns accounted for one-quarter of gun trafficking investigations during that time. Seven states, including New York and Ohio, as well as the District of Columbia, require the reporting of lost or stolen guns.