Act 192 is a piece of legislation passed last year that would allow gun owners to sue municipalities over any regulation of firearms. Not only that, it would also force those municipalities to pay any attorney fees.
The law was fiercely opposed by gun control advocates since it would allow the National Rifle Association (NRA) to sue any cities that tried to pass new laws.
The Court ruled the law was unconstitutional because it did not deal with a “single subject”. The controversial provision was added to a bill concerning the theft of copper and other metals.
This case was brought up by a number of cities that favor stronger gun laws (including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Lancaster) as well as some members of the state legislature.
One of the leaders on this issue was State Senator Daylin Leach.
“You should not be able to sneak in unrelated provisions to a bill at the last minute when nobody will notice. And thanks to the Pennsylvania Constitution, you can’t,” Sen. Leach stated. “Today, the Commonwealth Court followed a long-line of precedents and ruled that Act 192 violated the constitution. They did so unanimously. Democratic and Republican judges all agreed that this law ‘clearly, palpably and plainly’ violates the Constitution. What this means is that all municipalities that repealed constitutional gun ordinances may reenact them. All municipalities that abandoned constitutional practices regarding where guns may be carried, may resume enforcing them. And the NRA can go back to doing what it does best: making sure that we never pass reasonable, constitutional gun restrictions which would save thousands of lives per year.”
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Pittsburgh Bill Peduto also praised the decision.
“The Commonwealth Court’s decision today in the Leach case is a great victory for cities, for public safety, and for good government,” Mayor Nutter stated.
“The Court has preserved the ability of democratically-elected local officials throughout this Commonwealth to do what they think is necessary to protect their citizens from the scourge of gun violence,” he continued. “The Court’s decision also could not be clearer that the way in which Act 192 was adopted by the Pa. General Assembly was undemocratic, unconstitutional and must stop.”
“This law was clearly unconstitutional from the outset, and designed to threaten Pittsburgh and other cities trying to protect their neighborhoods from illegal guns,” Mayor Peduto stated. “I’m overjoyed that the court system is joining us in standing up for citizens and public safety instead of special rights for the gun lobby.”
The full court decision can be read below: