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Commonwealth Court Strikes Down Local Gun Laws

The state Commonwealth Court today struck down the city's attempt to tighten local gun laws, ruling that only the state has the power to enact gun legislation.

Mayor Nutter last year signed five bills controlling guns in the city into law, despite a 1996 state Supreme Court ruling that only the Commonwealth has the power to control firearms. The National Rifle Association then challenged the move.

Today the Commonwealth Court upheld a Common Pleas decision to strike down two of the five laws, one that restricts gun purchases to one a month and bars people from acting as "straw purchasers" and the other which bans the purchase of semi-automatic weapons that hold clips with more than ten rounds.

Both sides expect that this case will eventually land in the state Supreme Court.

UPDATE, 3:05 pm:  City Councilman Darrell Clarke, the sponsor of the gun legislation struck down by the court today, said he is disappointed but not surprised by the ruling.  Clarke said the city is ready for an appeal to the Supreme Court.  The city, he said, hopes the case will lead that court to reconsider the 1996 ruling.

"We believe that ultimately the Supreme Court of the state of Pennsylvania will determine whether or not we have legal standing as it relates to all of these bills," Clarke said. "I think we hopefully will get a much more favorable response from the Supreme Court."