Many Pennsylvania municipalities regulate the discharge of firearms.Â The language of our state’s preemption law would seem to allow this, but it’s never been abundantly clear.Â Now someone is challenging the City of Lancaster’s ordinance regarding discharge of firearms:
Swinton said his cousin was being attacked and beaten by a group of assailants and that he fired a warning shot to disperse them. He had a concealed-carry permit for the gun.
Police charged Swinton with reckless endangerment and illegal discharge of a firearm. The latter is a crime under an ordinance that City Council strengthened in 2007 at the urging of Mayor Rick Gray. Each shot â€” even a blank â€” is a separate offense and can result in a $500 fine and 90 days in jail. Swinton is the first person to be charged under the amended ordinance.
State law gives a person the right to fire a gun if he or she believes another person is in imminent threat of serious harm, Crystle said. The city ordinance, in contrast, says shooting is justified only in defense of one’s home, business or “human life.” The city can’t deny a right to Swinton that he has under state law, Crystle said.
My feeling is there has to be a self-defense exception to these ordinances, otherwise it would appear to fly in the face of state law and the state constitution.Â If the ordinances aren’t written in that manner, than I have no problems with the court creating an exception.
This does, however, speak to relative legal hazard created when warning shots are used.Â I’m not a fan of them.