Pennsylvania town rushes to turn local gun control back on

The city council of Reading, Pa. this week resurrected a town ordinance regulating firearms just weeks after a law threatening such actions was repealed by the courts.

With the enactment of Act 192 last year, termed the strongest preemption law in the country, Reading joined a host of other municipalities in repealing local gun laws stronger than the state’s to avoid potential lawsuits threatened by gun-rights groups.

At the time Reading’s lawmakers agreed 6-1 to scrap its gun ordinances with some council members voicing the opinion that it was for the best and the city should never have gotten involved in regulating guns in the first place.

Now, with Act 192 overturned by a Commonwealth Court over procedural issues, Reading has turned at least one gun law back on.

Monday the council voted unanimously to make it a crime to discharge firearms in the city limits, with exceptions made for defensive gun use.

“You know, every now and again, we have instances where citizens come out and start firing guns in the air,” Mayor Vaughn Spencer told WFMZ. “With this ordinance, these kinds of activities would be illegal.”

Meanwhile, state lawmakers are pushing to enact a new version of Act 192 that aims to pass muster.

Rep. Mark Keller, R-Perry, contends the court took exception with that fact that Act 192 came to law as part of a scrap metal bill, but otherwise found it lawful.

“Act 192 contained the same language that is in my proposed bill concerning enforcement of Pennsylvania’s current firearm preemption law,” noted Keller in a legislative memo earlier this month. “Importantly, the court’s decision was based merely on technical procedural rules, meaning that the substance of the legislation itself was never called into question.”