2008-10-02 / Local & State

Phila. Cannot Enact Tougher Gun Laws

State Appeals Court rules:

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (AP) - Philadelphia officials cannot enact gun laws tougher than Pennsylvania's law, a state appeals court ruled Friday in throwing out city ordinances that included limiting gun purchases to one a month and banning assault weapons.

The court dismissed a lawsuit against the state's Legislature filed by two members of Philadelphia's City Council.

The court cited language in several gun ordinances the council

passed last year that the measures cannot take effect unless lawmakers were to let municipalities enact stricter laws. That has not happened.

"While we understand the terrible problems gun violence poses for the city and sympathize with its efforts to use its police powers to create a safe environment for its citizens, these practical considerations do not alter the clear pre-emption imposed by the Legislature,'' President Judge Bonnie Brigance Leadbetter wrote in the court's ruling.

Leadbetter noted that the state Supreme Court previously upheld the state's exclusive right to enact gun laws in a 1996 ruling that overturned Philadelphia's effort to ban assault weapons. A 1974 state law says that only the General Assembly can regulate guns.

City officials have been pushing for a tougher local ordinance in response to Philadelphia's high murder rate and its reputation for being a weapons source for criminals in New York and other states with stricter gun laws. Four Philadelphia police officers have died in the line of duty in the last year.

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