Penn. Passes Crucial Lost or Stolen Handgun Law

| by Ceasefire PA
HARRISBURG, Penn. – A Pennsylvania appellate court Friday allowed Philadelphia’s lost or stolen handgun reporting ordinance to stand, rejecting a challenge by the gun lobby and giving new hope to a growing, statewide coalition of cities, mayors, City Councils and citizens who have taken action to pass this common sense reform into law.

By a 6-1 decision, the Commonwealth Court struck down two Philadelphia gun ordinances, one dealing with straw purchases, one dealing with assault weapons, ruling that these laws were pre-empted by state laws regulating firearms.

However, the Court also affirmed a lower Philadelphia court decision that had rejected a challenge brought by plaintiffs backed by the gun industry to three other Philadelphia ordinances. Those three laws dealt with lost or stolen handgun reporting; restricting access to guns where a protection from abuse order is involved; and restricting access to firearms where an individual is an imminent danger to themselves or others.

The Commonwealth Court ruled the gun industry-backed plaintiffs lacked any standing to challenge those three ordinances, and affirmed the lower court decision which allowed those ordinances to remain valid.

“This is a significant decision,” said Joe Grace, executive director of CeaseFirePA, the state’s largest gun violence prevention organization. “This decision means lost or stolen handgun reporting remains law in Philadelphia – and it means it remains law in seven other cities and towns across Pennsylvania that have passed similar ordinances. It’s a victory for common sense.”

Allentown, Reading, Pottsville, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Harrisburg, and Wilkinsburg have all passed lost or stolen handgun reporting ordinances into law in recent months, and the movement by Mayors, City Councils, police chiefs and citizens across the Commonwealth in support of this reasonable reform is growing in intensity every day. These eight cities and towns passing lost or stolen handgun reporting laws collectively represent 2 million Pennsylvanians.

In its decision today, the Commonwealth Court cited earlier holdings which have held that “the regulation of firearms is a matter of concern in all of Pennsylvania, not merely in Philadelphia,” and that the state General Assembly is the “proper forum” for imposing gun regulations.

“We agree with the Commonwealth Court,” Grace said. “We’ve said all along that gun violence is a statewide problem – not a Philadelphia problem. And the issue of reporting lost or stolen handguns to the police is an issue that must be resolved by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. This decision today reaffirms our position. Our focus remains the same - to bring this growing, statewide coalition of cities, towns, Mayors, City Council members, police chiefs, faith leaders, citizens and others to the General Assembly to demand that they pass lost or stolen handgun reporting as a common sense reform to protect every Pennsylvanian.”