Act 192 Overturned by Commonwealth Court

Court Gavel

While the news today is going to be all King v. Burwell, I’m sorry to report some more bad news on the gun front. Act 192 has had a short but glorious run, having briefly given├é┬áteeth to the preemption law passed in 1974. But now Commonwealth Court has ruled that the law violates Pennsylvania’s “single subject” requirement for bills. No word yet on appeal. A few things should be noted.

  • Preemption is still the law in Pennsylvania, just as it has been for 41 years. If you’re busted under a local gun control ordinance, those ordinances are still unlawful. You can challenge them and win. The difference now is it will probably take being charged to have standing to win.
  • The law did a lot of legwork in convincing many local communities to repeal their illegal ordinances. This erased a lot of effort the other side put into passing them. I doubt very many of those communities will re-pass their repealed ordinances. We have to keep an eye out though.
  • Stu Greenleaf bears a significant part of the responsibility for having to attach Act 192 to a metal theft bill at the last minute. He controls the Senate Judiciary Committee these types of bills have to clear through before hitting the floor. The GOP has a 30-20 majority in the Senate. To be honest, I’m thinking about donating money to Greenleafs Dem opponent, even if his opponent is a nut, just to get Greenleaf out of the Senate and to put the Judiciary Committee into more reliable hands.

The real loss here is that the cities that fought may now get their lawsuits dismissed. As long as Tom Wolf is Governor, the only possibility we have for getting this passed again is a veto override, and last time we didn’t have quite enough to accomplish that. [UPDATE: A reader corrects me, and it did pass with a veto-proof margin last time.] Also note that Greenleaf still controls Judiciary, so there’s that issue too. It will continue to be difficult to get pro-gun legislation advanced so long as he is controlling that key committee.

7 thoughts on “Act 192 Overturned by Commonwealth Court”

  1. Just as I was about to start telling my southern friends that the slave states of the north have better gun laws than the free states of the south.

    Hope it’s appealed or passed under a different bill.

    I like how attaching something to a bill that is unrelated to the subject of the bill is now “illegal” when it’s literally done all the time. But since the evil NRA is involved, it must be illegal.

  2. It should simply be passed again by the General Assembly over Wolf’s veto. You say we didn’t have enough votes to override a veto last time, but I think you are wrong on that. Two-thirds of the total membership of each chamber is required to override a veto. That is 136 (out of 203) in the House, and 34 (out of 50) in the Senate.

    It passed 141 to 54 in the House and 34 to 14 in the Senate last time, which was before the 2014 election where the GOP increased their majorities in both chambers. If it passed before with veto-proof majorities, it can pass again.

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  4. This one is a little tearing.

    I am, in general, a fan of “single subject” type rules as a means of simplifying the legislation process. It cuts down on killing something with a poison pill when there isn’t enough votes to defeat it the honest way.

    HOWEVER, I am also a HUGE fan of giving teeth to preemption. We have that down here in Florida, and Florida Carry has been using it like gang-busters to smack around anti-gun, statist jerks. (HEH! GET ‘EM BOYS!!!) :) Almost makes me want to wear the pin they send me every year when my membership renews…. naaaa… I’ll just give it to one of my kids, they like that sort of thing (here kid, don’t wear that to school. LOL).

    1. I agree that single-subject rules are, at least in principle, a good thing ™.

      That being said, in my opinion the Commonwealth Court had to engage in some pretty extreme legal/logical gymnastics to declare the language amended onto the bill to be a separate subject: Either they’ve decided that they want to apply the rule extremely narrowly, or Act 192 got stuck down “because guns.” I personally believe that the latter is the case.

      The original bill and additional bill amended onto it both amended the PA Crimes Code (PA Consolidated Statutes Title 18); The original bill defined an offense that triggers a federal prohibition on ownership of firearms, and the bill amended to the original bill deals specifically with firearms; The original bill had to do with metals, and guns are made of metal. With ANY other topic/issue, ANY of these would have been sufficient reason for the courts to declare the final product to pass muster under the single subject rule.

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