HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A gun owners group has the right to challenge Harrisburg’s firearms ordinances, Commonwealth Court ruled Thursday.
“In the decision, the court basically already stated that the ordinances are unlawful,” said Joshua Prince, the attorney representing Firearms Owners Against Crimes.
The court agreed the group has standing to challenge the legality of four city ordinances, including one that makes it unlawful for unaccompanied minors to possess firearms.
It all comes down to whether municipalities should be allowed to create and enforce their own gun laws. Prince says court rulings in other Pennsylvania cities, like Erie, have already said no, while litigation in Pittsburgh is ongoing.
“The General Assembly in Pennsylvania has stated that only the General Assembly can regulate firearms and ammunition, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in a decision many years ago affirmed that,” Prince said.
One of the ordinances in question restricts the discharge of firearms to police firing ranges and approved educational facilities.
“Generally speaking, even for self-defense, someone would be precluded from being able to discharge a firearm,” Prince said.
The other ordinances outlaw discharging guns in city parks and require people to report lost or stolen firearms to police within 48 hours.
“The issue with local regulation of firearms and ammunition is that it will ensnare law-abiding citizens who have no intent to commit any criminal act,” Prince said.
Harrisburg said it’s still in the process of reviewing the decision and has no comment at this time.
Both sides have 30 days to appeal the decision, which could go to the state Supreme Court.
Prince says if no appeals are filed, the county court is expected to immediately tell the city to change its rules.
The judge said the group doesn’t have the standing to challenge the city’s state of emergency ordinance. That’s also something Firearms Owners Against Crime can appeal.