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Senate approves bill to allow gun groups standing to sue over local laws

The Senate approved a measure that would give gun groups - including the National Rifle Association - standing to sue municipalties that enact their own gun laws and require them to pay the aggrieved party's legal fees.

The Senate approved a measure late Wednesday that would give gun groups - including  the National Rifle Association  - standing in court to sue municipalties that enact their own gun laws.

The amendment, which passed 32-16, has its origins in a legal battle between the city of Philadelphia and the NRA which sued over gun control ordinances more restrictive than state law.

The courts struck down several of the city's gun ordinances, but upheld mandatory reporting of lost and stolen weapons. Some 30 other cities, townships and boroughs followed suit, including at least seven in the southeat, passing lost and stolen reporting ordinances, including at least seven in the southeast.

Opponents say the proposal gives standing to "membership organizations" to sue without proving injury and collect legal fees regardless of the outcome.

"It is unprecedented in Pennsylvania jurisprudence...and across the nation," said Sen. Larry Farnese (D., Phila.) "We're making history tonight. We are conferring rights and privileges to citizens of the United States to an association."

Farnese and other opponents say the bill was written for the NRA,

"The NRA can sue our own people and we have to pay them," said Sen. Daylin Leach (D., Montgomery) who said he represents seven municipalities with their own gun laws.

"They are doing special interest's business, not the business of the people of Pennsylvania" said Sen. Anthony Williams (D., Phila.).

Bill supporters say they are acting on behalf of individual gun owners and argued that local gun laws are already illegal under the uniformity language in the Pennsylvania constitution..

"This is just clarifying current law," said Senate President Joe Scarnati (R., Jefferson). "It's about consistency of gun laws."

"This is a good bill, the right bill for Pennsylvania, to protect second amendment and the rights of law abiding citizens of Pennsylvania," said the amendment sponsor Sen. Rich Alloway (R., Franklin). "This is about individual rights."

The amendment was added to a bill to on metal theft.


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