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West Mifflin Latest Law Breaking Municipality

West Mifflin has passed a “Lost and Stolen” ordinance, in defiance of state wide preemption. They are the fourteenth municipality to pass such an ordinance. None of these fourteen municipalities have yet to charge anyone under them, despite the fact that some of them have been in place for a year or more.

If “Lost and Stolen” is such an effective crime fighting tool, why aren’t these municipalities, including the City of Philadelphia, effectively using it for the purposes they claim? Could it be because it’s not effective, and they are merely looking for an issue, any issue, on which the gun control movement can make legislative progress, no matter how absurd?

9 Responses to “West Mifflin Latest Law Breaking Municipality”

  1. I think they’re not using it because it’s a bluff. Not only are they looking for any issue on which to advance their agenda, they know that if anyone is actually charged with being in violation of this ordinance, it will give that individual standing to challenge the ordinance. One standing is recognized by the court, it WILL be thrown out; the only reason Philly got away with it was on the issue of standing. And then, all these municipalities will have to repeal their ordinances. IMHO, they’d rather not take the chance of risking the “progress” on their agenda.

    Of course, it’s only a matter of time before someone does indeed get charged, and then this will hopefully be set right.

  2. Tam says:

    Why are they so willing to blame the victim?

  3. Harry Schell says:

    The CA experience with such law is instructive. Before implementing their own law, the Sacramento City Council did a study of the efficacy of such laws in local cities such as Oakland, which had the law on the books for eight years, at the time.

    Zero arrests. Zero charges. Most of the DA’s didn’t know the law was there. No enforcement, no impact.

    Of course, the Sacto Council passed the law.

    It is a charade that clever (?) politicians want to have if they find it convenient to charge someone and make an example, and that they think will woo voters to dumb to ask later if such measures work.

  4. Laci the Dog says:

    OK, lost and stolen is more of a deterrance than anything else.

    When I was working at USAO-DC, I asked ATF about stolen guns. Their reply was that most illegal sellers report their guns stolen.

    Not really helpful to what I intended on finding out, but germane to this post.

    The concept is that gun trafficker buys loads of guns and when they are found says “gee, it was stolen”. Cops say but you didn’t report it and bust him for failing to report the loss within the time period.

    Belief is that honest owners will report the gun stolen, which most do. I mean, you’d want your gun back if it was stolen (and not used in a crime)–wouldn’t you?

  5. Sebastian says:

    I’m required to as a condition of holding a C&R FFL. And yeah, most would. I understand their rationale, but the lack of prosecutions is interesting.

    My primary objection to the law is that gun trafficking, or more precisely, straw purchasing, is already a crime. This seems to me to create a crime so the authorities can throw something at someone they think is trafficking guns, but can’t prove all the elements of a straw purchase.

    Sure, 9 out of 10 people charged under that might be gun traffickers, but it’s the one guy who was legitimately a crime victim, and didn’t know about the requirement, or for some other reason failed to report it, that I worry about.

    There’s also political reasons to oppose it, but that’s another line of argument.

  6. Sebastian says:

    I guess one reason I’m surprised at the lack of prosecutions is because I thought this was part of a push to get a chunk carved out of the preemption law. Given that I would think municipalities would be anxious to take this forward. The way PA’s preemption is worded, you could make a case why L&S doesn’t really touch on the behaviors that are preempted.

    You have a pretty good argument the other way too, but I kind of figured the plan was to make that argument in court.

  7. rainster says:

    Repeatedly buying guns that get stolen would add evidence to a straw buying/gun trafficking case.

  8. Carl from Chicago says:

    So, what is the end-game intention of all these piss-ant towns passing lost or stolen ordinances … is it to gather momentum for trying to pass such legislation at the state level?

    I really can’t see it being anything but that, because the moment one of those towns actually enforces the ordinance … they will be slapped with a lawsuit for violating preemption.

    I guess these towns must consider it their moral high ground of civil disobedience.

  9. Laci the Dog says:

    They are symbolic more than anything else.

    Yeah, straw purchase etcetera is already illegal, but they are hard to prosecute.

    On the other hand, most of these people aren’t going to live in the same place guns turn up.

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