HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s state Senate on Tuesday approved veto-destined legislation to help gun owners and gun-rights organizations collect damages in court from cities that passed firearms restrictions that were found to violate state law.
Despite the veto threat by Gov. Tom Wolf, the bill passed the Republican-controlled chamber, 32-17, with three Democrats joining every Republican in support of it. The bill passed the Republican-controlled House in June and goes to Wolf’s desk, the latest in a long-running disagreement with the Democrat over how to deal with gun violence.
Wolf’s favored legislation, meanwhile, has gotten little traction in the Legislature.
“As if it weren’t bad enough that the Republican-controlled General Assembly refuses to pass commonsense gun violence solutions, they insist on taking it a step further by working to loosen gun laws – like their attempt to allow unvetted gun owners carry concealed weapons through our streets last year – or now to discourage local jurisdictions from taking action on their own,” said Wolf.
”I will veto House Bill 979. It’s yet another bill that fails to prioritize the safety of all Pennsylvanians.”
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Under the bill, a gun owner or a gun-rights organization would have standing in court to sue municipalities over firearms ordinances that they contend are more restrictive than state law. A city whose gun ordinance is struck down in court could be ordered to pay damages.
Pennsylvania has long prohibited its municipalities from enforcing firearms ordinances that regulate the ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of guns or ammunition. But gun-rights groups complain municipalities often ignore the decades-old prohibition by approving their own gun restrictions.
That law is being challenged in court by Philadelphia and other municipalities.
”I have one year left and I promise Pennsylvanians that I will continue vetoing these dangerous bills. I urge my Republican colleagues to stop enabling the problem and step up to be a part of the solution,” said Gov. Wolf.
Governor Tom Wolf announced a $15 million increase in funding to further support grassroots gun violence prevention efforts through the Pennsylvania Commission for Crime and Delinquency’s (PCCD) Gun Violence Intervention and Prevention program.