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Judge rules NRA lawsuit against Philadelphia can move forward

Written by The Associated Press | Apr 30, 2015 2:20 AM
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Photo by AP Photo/Danny Johnston

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(Philadelphia) -- A Philadelphia judge has refused to dismiss the National Rifle Association's lawsuit challenging the city's gun regulations. 

Court of Common Pleas Judge Linda Carpenter's ruling against the city was released Wednesday. 

Pennsylvania has long barred its municipalities from approving ordinances that regulate the ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of guns or ammunition, but scores of cities and towns passed their own gun laws anyway.

A state law that took effect in January gives organizations like the NRA the ability to sue to overturn the local laws. 

The new law is being challenged, but Carpenter says the NRA, for now, has the right to sue Philadelphia. 

The judge also refused to put a hold on the NRA's lawsuit pending the Commonwealth Court's ruling on Act 192, but says the city can ask again at a hearing in May. 

The ruling comes the same week a state appeals court refused to lift a stay of the National Rifle Association's lawsuit challenging Pittsburgh's gun regulations.

The Commonwealth Court ruling means the lawsuit can't go forward until the same appeals court rules on the constitutionality of a law passed during the Corbett administration that lets advocacy groups challenge local gun laws in court. 

Pennsylvania law doesn't let municipalities regulate guns, but several, including Pittsburgh, have passed such ordinances anyway. Act 192, signed into law by then-Governor Tom Corbett in January, lets the NRA and other advocacy groups sue to overturn the local gun laws, which it has in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Lancaster. 

Allegheny County Judge Judith Friedman issued the stay in March, pending the Commonwealth Court's ruling on Act 192.

This past February, a Dauphin County judge issued a preliminary ruling three of the city of Harrisburg's restrictions on guns are unlawful, in the first major court decision since a state law went into the effect.

Judge Andrew Dowling said the city's ordinances regulating gun possession in parks, transferring weapons during a declared emergency, and gun possession by minors are more strict than state law and should not be enforced.

The state chapter of Texas-based U.S. Law Shield brought the suit under a new state law allowing the National Rifle Association and similar groups to challenge illegal gun ordinances.

The judge did preserve two city restrictions banning firing a gun in city limits and requiring reporting of lost or stolen weapons.

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