Pennsylvania House Bill Would Let NRA Sue Cities on Guns

A Pennsylvania bill that would allow the National Rifle Association or other groups and individuals to sue cities whose gun laws are more restrictive than state and federal statutes passed the state House of Representatives today.

If approved by the Senate and signed by Republican Governor Tom Corbett, the law would permit any individual or membership organization affected by a municipal gun ordinance to sue and recover legal expenses without having to prove actual injury.

“It creates standing where there was none,” said Shira Goodman, executive director of Philadelphia-based CeaseFirePA, which says it works to reduce gun violence. “This is a special gift to the NRA from the legislature. Now you have a deep pocket that can sue little towns and boroughs.”

CeaseFirePA has received financial support from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

The NRA, the nation’s largest gun-rights lobbying group, successfully fought a proposed statewide law requiring the loss or theft of firearms to be reported. When that failed in the legislature, more than two dozen localities adopted similar laws on their own. An NRA-led lawsuit failed after judges said plaintiffs didn’t have standing to go to court.

“Law-abiding citizens should not have to worry if they are in violation of a municipal firearms ordinance,” Representative Mark Keller, a Republican from Landisburg, said in a statement. The bill “simply serves as a tool to enforce existing statewide laws when municipal officials choose to ignore the Pennsylvania Constitution and enact their own rules.”

Governor’s Support

Jay Pagni, a spokesman for Corbett, said the governor would sign the bill if it makes it to his desk. Republicans hold the majority in both legislative chambers.

In an online post, the NRA’s lobbying arm, the Institute for Legislative Action, urged Pennsylvania residents to contact their legislators to support the measure.

“Over the past four years, the Pennsylvania Legislature has failed to act on this important pro-gun reform, and to date, nearly 50 municipalities have enacted illegal local gun control ordinances, including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Reading and the state capital of Harrisburg,” according to the post.

Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the Fairfax, Virginia-based NRA, didn’t immediately respond to a telephone call seeking comment on the bill.

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