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calendar   Wednesday - April 30, 2008

Legal shennanigans over Philadelphia Gun Laws

As I covered here several weeks ago, Philadelphia mayor Nutter signed into law 5 new local gun laws. Ignoring the fact that these laws will be useless with regards to fighting crime and gang violence, it was against Pennsylvania law for Mayor Nutter to create these laws with his signature. Pennsylvania has had a statute against pre-emption since 1976, and that statute was found legal by the Supreme Court in 1996. Which means that no city, town, or municipality can make their own gun laws in PA. Nevertheless, Nutter did.

Philly DA Lynne Abraham had told the mayor that the laws would be unconstitutional, but he signed them anyway. She has vowed not to prosecute anyone arrested for breaking them.

During a City Council meeting Tuesday, Abraham stated she admired the efforts of City Council and the Mayor, but added she could not approve criminal charges stemming from arrests under the five new laws instated last week.
“Because these laws appear to me, as an attorney looking at the laws of Pennsylvania, to be preemptive, they are, on their face, illegal acts,” Abraham said.  Abraham said a 1996 ruling upheld a 1974 law stating that Philadelphia does not have the authority to pass its own gun control legislation.

The NRA got into the mix and went to PA Judge Cutler Greenspan and got an injunction, but injunctions don’t last forever. I think this one is good for about a month. Today’s Scary News letter from the NRA/ILA (5 days late, but that’s how the NRA always is):

Friday, April 25, 2008
This week’s outrage comes courtesy of Philadelphia Police Commissioner, and former Washington, D.C. police chief, Charles Ramsey. As we recently reported, the Philadelphia City Council passed five gun control measures, which were subsequently signed by Mayor Michael Nutter in direct violation of Pennsylvania’s state preemption law. 

A Philadelphia County court granted NRA’s motion for a temporary restraining order against the new gun control regulations and ruled that Philadelphia is barred from enforcing the ordinances and moving forward on promulgating regulations. But the City opposed the injunction, saying they believed that the ordinances are both necessary and legal.

And while District Attorney Lynne Abraham previously advised Philadelphia’s city council and mayor that their gun control proposals were unconstitutional, the city pressed on, defying the state’s firearm preemption law in its attempt to circumvent the Pennsylvania legislature.

Enter Commissioner Ramsey, whose anti-gun leanings and arrogant, above-the-law mentalities have followed him to the City of Brotherly Love. Not content with his city passing illegal gun control “laws,” Ramsey is actually encouraging the City Council and Mayor Nutter to ignore the legal advice of city attorneys against enforcing the ordinances.  Not only is he in favor of enforcing the illegal measures, he was recently quoted as saying, “As far as I am concerned, the laws are valid, and we will act as if this whole conversation with the D.A. just didn’t take place.”

When the City’s Police Commissioner--the top law enforcement official--encourages the mayor and council members to ignore legal advice, that’s not just blatantly arrogant and anti-gun, that’s outrageous.

Oh it’s more than outrageous. This is the head of the police department saying he’s going to enforce laws that he knows are illegal. It’s a case of “it’s for your own good” stretched to the limits; the man who is the head of law enforcement is vowing to act illegally because it’s the right thing to do. Dude, you are so fired. Don’t forget for a second that this Commissioner Ramsey fellow is the guy who pushed Washington DC’s gun laws into place - the ones that are under review by the Supreme Court right now in the DC v. Heller case. They too will fall.

Now we have another dog in the fight, Philly political sock puppet and City Solicitor Shelley Smith, who is challenging Judge Cutler Greenspan’s injunction because she feels the NRA lacks standing. [ Now, I am not a lawyer, so I could be off, but my understanding of “standing” means that a law, no matter how obviously wrong, can not be challenged in court until somebody has been injured by it. And “injured” means charged with breaking that law, but I’m not sure if “injured” has to include being convicted and penalized. The whole concept seems pretty damn stupid to me, but I guess it serves some sort of legislative streamlining process, or else the opponents of every single law would be challenging them in court the instant they were passed. Wait, is that actually a bad thing? Maybe not, but it would be an expensive one.] And my guess is that Smith is correct: no person has been injured by this law because a) it hasn’t been enforced yet, and b) the DA has vowed not to prosecute infactions because the laws are illegal. But that reality has nothing to do with the theater of courtroom drama.

“They don’t deal specifically with the legal injury as it relates to each of the separate ordinances,” Smith said. “You have to look at what every ordinance prohibits and then figure out if any of the plaintiffs can allege any specific injury.”
...
Greenspan on April 17 approved the NRA’s request for a temporary restraining order to keep the city from enforcing the new laws.  She will hold a hearing on May 19 to consider the group’s request for a permanent injunction.  The NRA says the laws conflict with a 1996 state Supreme Court ruling that only the state can regulate guns. Smith says the city laws do not conflict with that ruling.  Further complicating matters, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey had vowed to enforce the local laws before the restraining order but District Attorney Lynne Abraham said she would not prosecute anyone arrested for violating them.

So the whole thing is a washing machine full of bullshit, stuck in the spin cycle. The laws are illegal. The mayor knew full well the laws are illegal. The Police Commissioner knew the laws were illegal. The city DA told them so. The Judge saw immediately that the laws were illegal and issued an injunction. The city Solicitor is lying out her ass, but she has to take the mayor’s position. The only thing she’s right about is the lack of standing, so the injunction will fail. And there won’t be any standing because these laws won’t be enforced. So can the Pennsylvania Supreme Court take these laws on without standing, and bitch slap Philadelphia AGAIN for violating the pre-emption law? Wait and see. This is only the opening act in the latest theater of the absurd.

The five ordinances in question are largely familiar re-workings of state legislative proposals that have already been shot down: a limit of one gun purchase per month; no ownership of automatic, or combat weapons; the imposition of arrest or a fine if your gun is stolen and you fail to immediately report it to the police. These are the main points. Limiting gun purchases to one per month is the only proposal that even made it to the voting floor in pro-gun Pennsylvania, where it, too, was promptly defeated.

Wasting time and money in court on Monday will save no lives. And, isn’t that the point?

So, really, what is this all about? Mayor Nutter is a very bright man. What’s the hidden agenda on this apparent fool’s errand in court, and at taxpayer expense? The NRA has already persuaded the judge to issue a restraining order prohibiting the police from arresting anyone based on the new ordinances. Police Commissioner Ramsey has been through all this once before, in Washington D.C., where another local gun control law worked its way right up to the United States Supreme Court.

The clear intent of what Mr. La Pierre is calling “political theatre” is the faint hope that some court, somewhere, will entertain an argument that can lead to the possible invalidation of that rule of pre-emption in which the state keeps the good stuff for itself.

So really what we are looking at is the ultimate expression of the leftist mindset: they have passed laws that they know are illegal under current statutes, but they are counting on judicial activism to get those other laws twisted around so that they get their way. For your own good, of course.

No, NRA, this is far more than an outrage. This is nascent tyranny. 


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 04/30/2008 at 12:59 PM   
Filed Under: • Guns and Gun Control •  
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