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Pittsburgh mayor on gun controversy: 'It's not going to cost taxpayers anything'

Written by Ariel Worthy/WESA | Jan 31, 2019 4:46 AM
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Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto arrives for a news conference in the aftermath of a deadly shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

(Pittsburgh) -- Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto says the city is prepared for a lawsuit over recently introduced gun ordinances.

The ordinances were proposed in December, and would ban certain firearms, accessories and ammunition in the city. City Council is expected to vote on the legislation in February. But gun-rights advocates have already threatened to sue over the rules. During an appearance on WESA's The Confluence Wednesday morning, Peduto said the city has been approached by legal experts who have offered to defend the city for free.

"We have a Law Department that I rely on for a lot of different decisions," he added. "So regardless, it's not going to cost the taxpayers anything. We either use our in-house attorneys or we find pro bono assistance to be able to help us. ... That hasn't been decided because we haven't been sued yet, but we have two options."

Peduto also dismissed an effort by some citizens to have him impeached. He says only the state legislature can remove local officials.

"We've been down this path before with the constitutionality of an impeachment being done by citizens under the state law as is. It can only be done by the state legislature. So I take it with a grain of salt," Peduto said. "Our belief is that presently the state of Pennsylvania does not give cities the tools that it needs to adequately protect its citizens and provide domestic tranquility, that there are commonsense approaches that we can save lives with. Some of those involve the banning of certain types of assault weapons in urban areas."

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Protestors with rifles attend a rally on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, in Pittsburgh. The protesters, many openly carrying guns, gathered in downtown Pittsburgh to rally against the city council's proposed restrictions and banning of semi-automatic rifles, certain ammunition and firearms accessories within city limits. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Peduto further said that the law would not take anyone's guns away: Gun owners who already have the firearms in question will be grandfathered in.

"But we're going to limit the amount of those types of weapons in our city," he said. "And we will go to court in order to challenge it. In order to go to court, you have to have a law to go to court with, and that's what we're doing."

Peduto predicted that the legislation will pass, potentially with amendments and they will be in court later in the year, defending the bills. Council is expected to have a preliminary vote on the ordinances in February. 

Peduto added that the bill isn't a political stunt, but an effort to challenge the state law.

"Local cities should have the ability to do whatever they possibly can do to protect their people," he said.

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