Philadelphia City Council approved legislation Thursday to ban guns from local parks and recreation centers, following a series of high-profile shootings in public spaces last summer. But like previous gun control efforts by Philadelphia officials, the law is unlikely to be enforced because state legislation needed to authorize the city’s ban has stalled in Harrisburg.
“You’ve got to hope they realize the importance of saving children and families at recreational centers and playgrounds,” Council President Darrell L. Clarke, who championed the bill, said of the Republican-controlled legislature. “If they can’t see the wisdom in that, then heaven help us.”
The Pennsylvania bill, which was authored by State Rep. Donna Bullock (D., Phila.), has been sitting in the House Judiciary Committee since August. The panel is chaired by State Rep. Rob Kauffman (R., Franklin), a strong supporter of gun rights.
Harrisburg’s approval is needed to enforce the Philadelphia law because courts have ruled that state law preempts cities when it comes to gun regulation. Gun-friendly lawmakers in Harrisburg have rarely allowed the state’s Democratic cities to tackle the issue themselves.
Kauffman earlier this year indicated he would be open to some gun control reforms following mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, but has since closed the door on those efforts.
“We don’t have any intention of addressing further gun control measures this session,” Kauffman said in September.
Clarke said he isn’t giving up hope on the bill.
“Any time you deal with Harrisburg, you’ve got to be patient,” said Clarke, a Democrat. “That’s just reality. But we can’t just sit by and not do anything.”