City Council passes gun control bills amid legal threats


Via dllu | Wikimedia Commons

Three gun control bills co-sponsored by councilmembers Corey O’Connor and Erika Strassburger and preliminarily approved by the Council in a 6-3 vote last Wednesday.

By Jon Moss, Contributing Editor

Pittsburgh’s City Council passed three gun control bills Tuesday morning by a 6-3 vote, including one that prohibits the usage of certain assault weapons within the City.

The bills, co-sponsored by councilmembers Corey O’Connor and Erika Strassburger, were preliminarily approved by the Council in a 6-3 vote last Wednesday and take several approaches to restricting gun usage within city limits. The legislation was drafted partly in response to October’s shooting massacre at Squirrel Hill’s Tree of Life Synagogue that left 11 dead.

The highest profile measure is a ban on the usage of certain assault and semi-automatic weapons, such as the AR-15 assault rifle, and large-capacity magazines. The bill was scaled back from a full possession ban in an attempt to skirt around a state law preventing cities from restricting gun ownership. Any violation of the new usage ban carries a fine of up to $1,000.

The final legislation also introduces extreme risk protection orders to the City, which allow for weapons to be temporarily seized through a court order from individuals deemed to pose an “extreme risk” to themselves or others.

Councilmember O’Connor told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette the Council listened to input from Pittsburghers and he was pleased with the legislation.

“We’re pretty happy we’ve gone through the process. We’ve made changes listening to a number of people,” O’Connor said after the vote. “I think the colleagues who stuck with us were very brave in doing so, and even the colleagues who voted against wanted to have a gun conversation.”

Councilmembers Anthony Coghill, Theresa Kail-Smith and Darlene Harris voted against the legislation, saying state law preempted city regulations.

Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action, said the organization will sue the City in the Allegheny Court of Common Pleas if the bills are signed into law.

Peduto is expected to sign the final bills into law in the coming days.