gun violence

Philly Residents Sue Pa. Legislature for Right to Enact Local Gun Laws

Ten Philadelphia residents filed a lawsuit against the Republican-controlled state Legislature demanding municipalities like Philadelphia be given the right to enact local gun control measures.

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Some city residents sued Pennsylvania state lawmakers on Wednesday claiming that inaction by the Republican-controlled Legislature has failed to protect citizens by ignoring gun control measures that could ease violence.

The lawsuit was filed in Commonwealth Court, and the City of Philadelphia signed on as plaintiffs along with the 10 city residents.

"The Pennsylvania General Assembly’s actions have stoked the gun violence epidemic” in Philadelphia and elsewhere across Pennsylvania, according to the lawsuit, which seeks to enable municipalities to create their own local gun control measure.

Philadelphia elected officials have been trying for two decades to enact local gun control laws to stop the flow of illegal guns into the city and toughen local penalties for gun possession and failure to report stolen firearms.

The longstanding obstacle to local gun control in Pennsylvania is a state "preemption" law governing gun control. It prohibits municipal governments from enacting gun control measures that would impose stronger restrictions or penalties on residents than what state law enforces.

“By enacting and continuing to ratify the Firearm Preemption Laws, the General Assembly has increased gun violence in these municipalities, and they have affirmatively endangered the lives, health and safety of the Individual Petitioners,” the lawsuit said. “In creating and perpetuating this danger of their own making, Respondents have violated the inherent and indefeasible right to enjoy and defend life and liberty under Article 1, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution.”

It is still unclear what attorneys or law firms will represent the General Assembly in their defense of the preemption law. The full lawsuit can be found HERE.


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Stanley Crawford, of Northeast Philadelphia, is one of the 10 residents who are plaintiffs in the suit. His son, William, was shot and killed in the Rhawnhurst neighborhood in 2018.

“Letting Philadelphia pass gun safety laws is about recognizing the humanity of people in this city who face gun violence,” Mr. Crawford said. “Because right now, the lack of action and the lack of urgency is absolutely inhumane.”

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