Currently our state’s preemption statute says this:
No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth.
This has been interpreted by some to mean local municipalities have some power to regulate guns, despite the Courts saying otherwise. I would propose Pennsylvania adopt a variation on Washington State’s language, which is unambiguous:
The General Assembly hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the Commonwealth, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components. Codes and ordinances enacted by counties, cities, townships, other municipalities or political subdivisions are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.
And we also have Rep. Metcalfe’s proposed bill which adds some teeth to the preemption language:
Remedies for unlawful regulation.–Notwithstanding anyÂ other provision of law, upon finding that a county, municipalityÂ or township in any manner regulated the lawful ownership,Â possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunitionÂ or ammunition components in violation of subsection (a) or 53Â Pa.C.S. Â§ 2962(g) (relating to limitation on municipal powers),Â a court shall direct the county, municipality or township to payÂ actual damages and reasonable attorney fees and costs to a partyÂ who successfully challenges the regulation.
I think we need both Rep. Metcalfe’s bill and a rewrite of the preemption language to make it crystal clear to local governments that they may not touch the area of firearms. Sadly, I don’t think attorneys fees will be any deterrent to Philadelphia, who will be happy to waste city taxpayer dollars on challenges, and then run poor mouthing to Harrisburg for more of our taxpayer dollars. I would like to see appropriations from Harrisburg to Philadelphia be contingent on them not passing unlawful ordinances.