House approves veto-bound bill to help block local gun laws

House approves veto-bound bill to help block local gun laws

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Resuming a long fight over local gun laws, Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives on Tuesday approved veto-destined legislation that is designed to help gun owners and gun-rights organizations force cities to repeal firearms restrictions. The bill passed the Republican-controlled chamber, 124-79, but Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has promised to veto it. Wolf also issued a veto threat in 2016 to a similar bill that passed the state Senate. Under the bill, a gun owner or a gun-rights organization would have standing in court to sue municipalities over firearms ordinances that they contend are more restrictive than state law. A city whose gun ordinance is struck down in court could also be ordered to pay damages. Similar provisions were once law, signed in 2014 by then-Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican. But the law was later struck down in court on a technicality. Pennsylvania has long prohibited its municipalities from enforcing firearms ordinances that regulate the ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of guns or ammunition. But gun-rights groups complain municipalities often ignore the decades-old prohibition by approving their own gun restrictions. Court precedent has held that someone only has standing to sue if they were prosecuted for violating such an ordinance, and gun-rights groups say that holding makes it difficult to challenge illegal local firearms ordinances. The state Supreme Court has a case in front of it challenging that precedent.

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