Legislation crafted in part by the National Rifle Association and proposed by a local state senator is facing a backlash from some Pennsylvania mayors, including York City's, who say it amounts to another obstacle in the fight against urban gun violence.
If it becomes law, the Senate bill would essentially shut down local governments' efforts to hold gun owners responsible for alerting law-enforcement authorities when their gun is lost or stolen, York City Mayor Kim Bracey said.
"These illegal guns are the root of the shootings and the homicides that we see in the city," Bracey said.
But state Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Franklin County, said his bill -- and a similar one in the state House -- is about strengthening the Second Amendment.
The bill was written to prevent local governments from infringing upon constitutional rights and to prevent a hodgepodge of local gun laws across the state, he said.
Lawsuits: Alloway is promoting the bill as a reinforcement of state preemption laws, which prevent municipalities from passing gun-control laws. If it passes, Alloway's bill would allow gun owners to sue municipalities for damages if they feel their rights have been violated by a local gun law.
Alloway said he worked with the NRA to write the bill.
Alloway said the legislation was not
written specifically to counter lost-and-stolen-gun laws. He said he wasn't sure if such laws would fall under the preemption umbrella, but, he said, "there's many other regulations that they're trying to infringe upon the Second Amendment."
Opponents, however, say the House and Senate bills would also give groups like the NRA special standing to sue municipalities, which might be intimidated into doing nothing about gun violence.
According to Max Nacheman, director of the gun-violence-prevention group CeaseFire PA, Alloway's bill would allow gun-rights groups like the NRA to sue a municipality for passing a law -- before anyone's rights are actually violated, he said.
"I wonder what Sen. Alloway would say if the Sierra Club could suddenly sue Exxon Mobil," Nacheman said.
The bills "are so far ranging that they cut the legs out from the cities to do virtually anything" about gun violence, he said.
Opposition: Last month, mayors or surrogates from Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Allentown and Lancaster protested the bill at a news conference in Harrisburg. Bracey did not attend but said she agrees with the bills' opponents.
York City is one of 18 municipalities across the state that have passed resolutions asking the state Legislature to address the lost-and-stolen-gun issue, Nacheman said. Another 30 municipalities have passed laws requiring gun owners to alert authorities when their gun goes missing.
"Our Legislature, instead of listening to the cities ... is listening to the NRA," Nacheman said.
As the representative of the 33rd Senate District, Alloway serves part of York County including Dover Borough and Dover, Paradise and Heidelberg townships. His district also includes parts of Franklin and Adams counties.
Alloway said he understands the problem of rampant gun violence in urban areas.
"I'm not tone deaf to that," he said. "I understand what their problems are. I just think that I disagree with the way they're trying to solve that problem."
-- Reach Erin James at 505-5439 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ydcity.