A Pennsylvania law that went into effect late last year and allows gun owners to sue municipalities over restrictive gun ordinances has local officials either scrambling to change policy or battening down the hatches in preparation for a legal storm.
More than 20 of an estimated 100 cities have changed their laws regarding guns in response to the passing of Act 192 and at least six are currently considering it, The Patriot-News reported. Republican Gov. Tom Corbett signed the bill into law, giving gun rights advocates the power to sue cities and also recoup legal fees in doing so.
Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse last week called for donations to fight lawsuits against the city, which has five local gun control ordinances that could be targeted, Guns.com previously reported.
The city is reportedly embroiled in two lawsuits, while Lancaster, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are fighting the state’s new law in Commonwealth Court, The Patriot-News reported.
The National Rifle Association filed suits against the three cities to challenge their gun control ordinances, CBS News reported.
As soon as the state law was passed, Harrisburg was sued by Houston-based pro-gun group U.S. Law Shield, which claims to have filed the first suit after passage of Act 192.
“We believe these ordinances are in the best interest of public safety, and Act 192 is nothing more than a reckless payoff by certain members of the state legislature to their political funders in the gun lobby,” a statement on city’s website for the Protect Harrisburg Legal Defense Fund reads.
North Middleton could change one of its 40-year-old laws prohibiting the carry of firearms in parks.
“We changed ours in the most minor way it could be changed and still be consistent with the law,” Mark Wayne Allshouse, the city’s solicitor told The Patriot-News.
Allshouse suggested simply changing the language of the ordinance to point to state law regarding the carrying of guns in parks, which is similar to what Hampden Township did in January, The Patriot-News reported.
“The commissioners amended our ordinance to reflect the change in the state law,” city manager Keith Metts said.