Pennsylvania high court strikes gun preemption law

The Democrat-heavy Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday upheld a challenge to a Republican-backed gun preemption law in the Keystone State.

The 2014 law, Act 192, was dubbed when it was signed by then-Gov. Tom Corbett (R) to be the “strongest firearms preemption statute in the country,” as it allowed civil rights groups to stand in for citizens in suits against local gun laws that were stronger than the state had on the books.

As state Dems and gun control groups rallied to block the implementation of the new law and state Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced she would not defend it, Second Amendment groups launched a volley of lawsuits under its protections against municipalities whose laws were brought under scrutiny.

Repealed by the Commonwealth Court in a 7-0 ruling last June, Act 192 had its day in the state Supreme Court in March, whose justices handed down their unanimous ruling Monday.

Notably, instead of attacking the merits of the law itself, those seeking to dismantle it questioned the mechanics of how it became adopted – as a rider to a scrap metal theft bill. That argument found agreement from the court.

“As the Commonwealth Court suggested, creating a civil cause of action for persons affected by local gun regulations is simply too far afield from the definition of new offenses relating to the theft of secondary metal to be considered part of one subject,” noted Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor for the majority. “Based on the foregoing, Act 192 violates the single-subject rule and must be declared void in its entirety.”

The current six-justice panel, elected for 10-year terms, consists of five Democrats, with Saylor – the only Republican – set to retire in December.

City leaders in Philadelphia, one of the municipalities whose firearms laws were under the sword of the now-vanquished Act 192, welcomed the news from the court Monday.

“Act 192 was wrong for both the way in which it was adopted, and its intent to intimidate municipalities in Pennsylvania,” said Mayor Jim Kenney in a statement. “This is a great victory for proper legislative procedure and for the ability of local governments to adopt common sense gun regulations without fear of financially crippling litigation.”

As noted by WFMZ, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr. intend to reintroduce their cities’ recently repealed firearm ordinances in coming weeks.