Pittsburgh Council passes controversial bill on stolen guns


Samuel Adams
November 27, 2008, 04:24 PM
By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh City Council gave its first approval today to legislation requiring that anyone report a lost or stolen firearm report that within 24 hours or potentially face a $500 fine.

The 6-1 vote, with two abstentions, sets up a final vote likely next week, which would send the legislation to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl for his signature or veto, and then potentially to the courts, where similar measures have been challenged.

"Who really cares about it being unconstitutional?" said Councilwoman Tonya Payne (http://www.city.pittsburgh.pa.us/district6/), a supporter. "This is what's right to do, and if this means that we have to go out and have a court battle, then that's fine ... We have plenty of dead bodies coming up in our streets every single day, and that is unacceptable."

The lone no vote was by Councilman Ricky Burgess, who argued that it would be a "false cure" that would be "particularly cruel" to his violence-plagued northeastern Pittsburgh district.

"This legislation will not strike a blow to straw purchasers," he said. "This ordinance will not be enforced, no loopholes will be closed and no lives will be saved, because no municipality can legally regulate firearms of any kind, at any time, for any reason."

Council's vote is a win for groups engaged in a statewide push to get local rules for reporting lost and stolen guns. The state House rejected a statewide bill in April.

Advocates appearing before council today argued that people called straw purchasers frequently buy guns, then sell them to criminals who could not pass the required background checks. When the guns are used in crimes and traced back to the straw purchaser, he or she just claims the weapon was lost or stolen. Unless that can be disproved, the straw purchaser is off the hook.

"It's a loophole that allows illegal gun traffickers to simply state that a weapon was stolen," said Councilman William Peduto, one of three authors of the bill along with Council President Doug Shields and Councilman Bruce Kraus.

Councilmen Dan Deasy and Patrick Dowd abstained.

Mr. Dowd said that in passing the measure council is "not really effectively changing the situation on the ground," and is inviting a lawsuit.

Philadelphia has sought to enforce similar legislation, but the effort has been tied up in litigation. Legally, the question is whether the state ban on local laws on "the transfer, ownership, transportation or possession" of guns extends to the reporting of lost or stolen firearms.

The Commonwealth Court threw out Philadelphia's measure, and other gun control rules there. The matter is heading for the state Supreme Court.

"To me the question is wide open" on whether such rules are allowed, said Mr. Shields. "This is where you go in [to court] and you make your arguments."


Here is my reply to Councilcritter on the city's website.

I am writing in response to Ms. Payne's comment in the Post Gazette about council passing the unconstitutional ordinance requiring gun owners to report a stolen weapon withing 24 hours. I am a proud military Veteran, having sworn an oath to the US Constitution in the Pittsburgh Federal Building. Ms. Payne's comment"Who really cares about it being unconstitutional?" is an outrage to those of us who have fought, some dying, to protect our system of government and our rights. The US Constitution, in its Original Intent, is an all or nothing deal. I ask Ms. Payne - How would she like it if we disregarded the 13th, 14th, 15th, and 19th Amendments?

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November 27, 2008, 07:41 PM
"Who really cares about it being unconstitutional?"
uuummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm..... damnit.

General Geoff
November 27, 2008, 08:52 PM
Tonya Payne should be tried for treason. Not only is she supporting unconstitutional law, but she openly admits she knows it's unconstitutional. This is a slap in the face to the entire justice system.

November 27, 2008, 08:57 PM
Tonya Payne obviously has no need nor desire for any Constitutional protections.

Wow. Just wow. Who can be that stupid.

Samuel Adams
November 27, 2008, 10:51 PM
Feel free to tell her how you feel about her comment. :fire:

November 27, 2008, 11:48 PM
The police are not going to go out looking for your gun. Pictures of your firearm won't be put on milk cartons.

This will just lead too more problems. Pretty soon the gun owner will be liable because they didn't have it secured in a location that would keep a thief from getting it.

I friend had several guns stolen last year. The police weren't too interested. They didn't even finger print the house nor were they too interested in a list of the firearms. They did say that if he found any of them at pawn shops ect. to let them know and they would try to look into it more.

Not LEO bashing. The point is that, for the most part, they are short handed and have been spending most of their time looking for meth labs. Drugs are keeping them busy.

November 28, 2008, 07:40 AM
Drugs are keeping them busy. And the illegal drug trade is directly linked to gun crime, turf wars, gang shootings, and drive-bys. In other words, all the reasons well-meaning peoples cite when they call for blatant infringement of the 2A.

Maybe the War on Drugs has failed in its current form. Maybe a new tack is necessary.

November 28, 2008, 10:54 AM
I can't see how this would even affect the "straw purchaser's" they claim to be targeting. I'm assuming (I know that's a mistake.:eek:) that the "law" would have to be intreperted as "within 24 hours from the time the owner realized it was missing". I can't imagine how they could arrest and convict a home owner (and make it stick) that had been on vacation for a couple of weeks, come home to find his house had been broken into and a gun stolen. All a strawman would have to claim was "I didn't realize it was gone until you called me and I couldn't find it." Better to keep track of those that seem to be unable to secure their many guns and are always having them "stolen or lost" and approach it from that angle with some sort of restriction, etc.

November 29, 2008, 04:28 PM
phone number for Tonya Payne:


you should let her know how you feel...

November 30, 2008, 12:48 PM
You know, way back in the last century when I was a boy, schools had a mandatory class called Civics. One concept taught was Right and Responsibilities. Citizens have the right to vote and the responsibility to understand the issues and candidates being voted on. Citizens have the right to free speech and the responsibility to speak the truth as they see it. Plus the responsibility to listen to and try to understand the political speech of others. No responsibility to agree, but the listen and understand. Right down the Bill of Rights, responsibilities go hand and hand with each right.

And there is no responsibility police checking up on citizens to make sure they are up holding their responsibilities. No negative conquencenses of any individual not upholding their responsibility. It is the ultimate duty of each citizen to be a good citizen, even with nothing forcing them to do so. As long as enough people do so, the Nation will remain free and great. Civic classes taught many examples from history of what happens to a democratic people that shirk the responsibilities of being good citizens (The Roman Republic, Germany before the Nazis, etc.)

Which brings us to this thread. Much talk about second amendment right being infringed, but nothing about the reasonability of owning and bearing arms. Do stupid comments of a city councilperson, who is not even from your city, release everyone from second amendment responsibilities?

Izaak Walton
November 30, 2008, 03:38 PM
So itís back to the old
If a fox is killing the chickens you need to punish the hogs.

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