A Philadelphia Common Pleas judge this morning ordered attorneys for the city and the National Rifle Association to condense into writing by tomorrow morning what might have been testimony for a two- or three-day evidentiary hearing this week in the battle over five local gun control laws enacted last month. Judge Jane Cutler Greenspan, who last month issued a temporary restraining order to prevent the city from enforcing the new laws, will resume the hearing tomorrow afternoon at City Hall.
The NRA, representing its members, two firearm organizations, two gun shops and four firearm owners, says the state Supreme Court ruled in 1996 that only the state can regulate firearms. The city counters that it is attempting only to regulate illegal gun possession, not lawful gun ownership. The laws limit handgun purchases to one a month, make it a crime to not report a lost or stolen gun within 48 hours, allow police to confiscate guns with a judge's approval from people considered a danger to themselves or others, prohibit gun possession by people subject to protection from abuse orders, and ban semiautomatic weapons with clips that hold 10 or more rounds.
The NRA has asked Greenspan to issue a permanent injunction to prevent the city from enforcing the laws. Greenspan seemed at times to agree with the argument that only the state has the power to regulate firearms, calling it "plain as day" at one point. "Your claim has to go to the state," Greenspan told city lawyers. "That's where you need to make your case." The city seems eager to take the case to a higher court, which could set up a re-argument of the 1996 ruling.