Hundreds of protesters gathered Monday, 7 January 2019, in Pittsburgh’s City Center to rally against proposed restrictions on guns and ammunition.
Chanting “we will not comply, we will not comply,” they filed down Grant Street to the City-County building to raise their voices in a chorus of “we need our guns to protect ourselves,” as Jody Corfield, of Millvale, put it.
State Rep. Aaron Bernstine, R-Ellwood City, called the proposed gun legislation a “clear violation” of law by the mayor and “political stunts” by the District Attorney.
“Don’t go after the Constitution,” Bernstine said. “Go after the criminals.”
The proposed ban drew immediate outcry from gun rights activists who contend the restrictions violate Pennsylvania law. State law prohibits municipalities from regulating firearms. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has upheld the preemption in multiple cases, including a 10-year-old city ordinance that would require the reporting of lost or stolen handguns.
The proposed laws are:
- An assault weapons ban in the city that aims to make it illegal to manufacture, sell, purchase, transport or store an assault weapon.
- A ban on accessory ammunition, which includes items such as bump stocks, large capacity magazines and armor-penetrating bullets (which are already illegal).
- An “extreme protection ban.” that allows people to be stripped of their right to keep or bear arms if they violate due process.
Allegheny County Sportsmen League and Firearm Owners Against Crime call the proposals illegal, saying no county, municipality or township, “can regulate the lawful ownership of firearms.”
The organizations said they are prepared to take legal action against the city, even suggesting council members could face misdemeanor charges and time in jail.
“All the way to the Supreme Court, and hopefully… District Attorney Zappala will go after them for criminal violations. In my opinion, they should be taken out in handcuffs,” Kim Stolfer, of Firearm Owners Against Crime, said.
Less than a handful of counter-protesters appeared across the street, including Jim Grant from the North Side.
Some of the public protesting