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Pittsburgh mayor calls on lawmakers to toughen gun laws within 30 days

Written by Liz Reid/WESA | Aug 7, 2019 4:27 AM
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Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto speaks at a Senate Democrats' Special Committee on the Climate Crisis on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(Pittsburgh) -- Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is calling on state and federal legislators to pass a variety of gun-control bills in the next 30 days. 

Peduto on Tuesday morning met with Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, which describes itself as the country's largest gun violence prevention organization.

"We need to show lawmakers that when they do the right thing, we'll have their backs," Watts said. "When they do the wrong thing, we will have their jobs."

Peduto listed off a half-dozen moves he'd like to see legislators make, from banning high capacity clips nationwide to taking the handcuffs of off Pennsylvania cities so they can pass their own gun bills.

None of the measures Peduto is calling for are likely to materialize in the 30-day window he laid out. The U.S. Congress is on recess until the beginning of September, while state legislators won't return to Harrisburg until the end of September.

In the wake of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio last weekend, there have been renewed calls for legislators to take action on the issue of guns.

proposal by Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey and West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin that would expand background checks on gun sales is back in the spotlight, though it's unlikely to come up for a vote in the near future under Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's leadership. A broader, House version of the bill has been a non-starter in the Senate.

President Donald Trump on Monday expressed support for a nationwide red flag law, aimed at preventing people who are believed to post a threat to others or themselves from obtaining a weapon.

A bill to ban high-capacity magazines, originally introduced in 2017 after the mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas, was reintroduced in February but has languished in committee.

In Pennsylvania, Senate Democrats have introduced at least six gun-control measures, including bills to ban assault weapons and to implement universal background checks and "red flag" laws.

Pennsylvania state law bars municipalities from passing their own gun laws; the city of Pittsburgh's recent package of gun-control ordinances attempted to get around that by addressing the use, not possession, of certain firearms and accessories. Those ordinances are currently being challenged in court.

While there's no effort underway to modify this part of state law, Peduto said the bills that have been introduced should get an immediate vote.

"Their leadership has proven that they don't have the courage or the backbone to even vote," he said of state legislators.

"That's what you're elected to do: vote," Peduto added emphatically. "So we're calling on them in the next 30 days to do their damn job."

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