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Amendments planned for Pittsburgh proposed gun restrictions

Bob Bauder
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Speakers address City Council regarding the proposed gun-control legislation during a public hearing inside of the City-County Building on Jan. 24, 2019.

Pittsburgh City Council got a feel this week for what people think about its proposed ban on certain semi-automatic weapons, ammunition and firearms accessories.

More than 100 people signed up to speak at a public hearing on the restrictions Thursday that went for hours.

So what’s next on the gun bill agenda?

Amendments

Councilman Corey O’Connor of Swisshelm Park, who sponsored the legislation along with Councilwoman Erika Strassburger of Squirrel Hill, said council would start talking about amending the bills so people understand the city is targeting only certain types of guns. Banned weapons would include assault rifles, semi-automatic pistols with large capacity magazines and those that can have a silencer or flash suppressor attached, and semi-automatic shotguns with revolving cylinders.

“We have to clear that language up,” O’Connor said. “It’s not all guns. We’re going to try to make amendments so that people know it’s not taking away their right to own a gun.”

Preliminary Vote

O’Connor said he expects the bills will come up for a preliminary vote during a standing committee meeting within the next few weeks. Council would vote on any proposed amendments at that time.

Final Vote

It could happen in February, but O’Connor said that depends on how quickly members can come together and craft amendments. Five other council members have joined O’Connor and Strassburger as co-sponsors of the legislation, and it is expected to pass.

Mayor’s signature

Legislation can pass with or without a mayor’s signature, but Mayor Bill Peduto, who supports the gun ban has said he would sign it.

Lawsuits and criminal charges

Gun advocates have vowed to challenge the ban in court, citing a Pennsylvania law that prohibits municipalities from regulating firearms. They’ve also promised to file private criminal complaints against council members and Peduto alleging a violation of that law should the bills pass.

O’Connor previously said council has legislative immunity and cannot be charged criminally. Peduto has declined to discuss legal strategy, but said the city would mount a stiff defense. He also said he would welcome criminal charges.

“I’m confident that we have a decent case to make that will not only ultimately be able to uphold what we’re trying to do but also change the discussions in Harrisburg and Washington, “ the mayor recently told the Tribune-Review.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter @bobbauder.