EDITORIAL: Let gun law lie


We never thought it was the wisest idea for a body representing the taxpayers of this state to open wide the door and invite the National Rifle Association to sue the pants off the local municipalities that also are funded by tax dollars.

But that's not why the Commonwealth Court ruled last week to overturn a law the state Legislature passed — and Gov. Tom Corbett signed — to make it easier for anyone to sue their local municipalities for creating gun laws they deem too strict.

Under the law that was thrown out, gun owners no longer had to show they were harmed by an ordinance in order to challenge it. The law also let "membership organizations" such as the NRA sue on behalf of any Pennsylvania member.

If that sounds like a far cry from the small-government, local-control tenets posited by the majority members of our state Legislature, that's because it is. It's also a far cry from small government to encourage lawsuits and sic a special interest on a municipality that enacts an ordinance to protect its citizenry.

It's already illegal for municipalities to create gun laws that are more strict than the state law, so this lawsuit-encouraging measure felt more like the Legislature doing a favor for a friend than responding to some substantial public concern.

The court threw out the law for what amounted to a procedural violation — because legislators tossed the NRA bone in with a bill to establish criminal penalties for scrappers who steal and sell metals.

The judges said the law violated constitutional requirements that A) bills can't be altered to change their original purpose, and B) bills must be confined to a single subject.

So the Legislature violated the constitution.

Rep. Stan Saylor, R-Windsor Township, who cosponsored the bill that later became the law, would win our Ironic Quote of the Week Contest, if we had one, for his response to the court striking down the law.

He said the law was necessary because local governments "keep making laws that go in the opposite direction of what the state constitution says."

"The state has the right to govern those things, not the cities," Saylor said. "I'm tired of seeing people usurp power that they don't have."

Hello, Kettle. You're black. Sincerely, The Pot.

Saylor said the Legislature might consider the "good law" worth taking up again, being that it was struck down for procedural reasons and not its contents. He would also like to see an appeal of the court's ruling.

Gov. Tom Wolf probably won't sign another pro-gun bill, even if Saylor and other supporters are able to push the bill through the Legislature.

We say, let this law die gracefully at the hands of the court. At least the NRA has proof you tried.