Philadelphia enacted five new gun laws last week, which require owners of firearms to report lost or stolen firearms, ban assault weapons, restrict purchases to one per month, permits petitions to search premises for seizure of weapons and prohibits those subject to certain restraining orders to possess or receive a firearm during the term of the order.
However, according to philly.com yesterday, Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham believes the city’s new gun laws are unconstitutional. In addition, the story says that Abraham will not enforce the city’s newly-enacted gun laws. To read the story, click here.(Joseph A. Slobodzian, D.A. says she cannot enforce Philadelphia’s new gun laws, Philly.com, Apr. 16, 2008, available at http://www.philly.com/dailynews/local/20080416_D_A__says_gun_laws_unconstitutional__won_t_prosecute_them.html)
Abraham is correct, and the Philadelphia Crimes Code, 18 Pa.C.S. Sec. 6120 (Limitation on the regulation of firearms and ammunition), specifically prohibits Philadelphia County from enacting gun laws that regulate firearms in this way. The relevant provisions of that statute state: “No county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth.” This issue has already been litigated in Ortiz v. Philadelphia, 681 A.2d 152 (1996) and the city lost. To view the Ortiz case, click here (I can’t vouch for the accuracy or completeness of the contents of the case, as the site to which I link is not the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts, but it looks OK at first glance).