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In Wake of Recent Shootings, the Gun Lobby Shouldn't be Able to Intimidate Pennsylvania Local Leaders With the Threat of Expensive Lawsuits

In Philadelphia, there were at least 19 shootings over the course of last weekend, in which five people were shot and killed and 28 were wounded. According to the Philadelphia police tracker, there have been at least 158 homicides in Philadelphia alone this year, and recently, Police Commissioner Richard Ross remarked that “nearly 90 percent of the homicides this year had been committed with guns.” And just a few days after the violent weekend, 10 people were wounded in a shooting at a nightclub in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

These shootings underscore why lawmakers in Harrisburg should reject Senate Bill 531, punitive preemption legislation that would further tie the hands of local officials and create more barriers to enacting gun safety laws.

Senate Bill 531 would undermine local officials and law enforcement officers who want to fight the gun violence epidemic in their communities by enacting and enforcing common sense gun violence prevention laws. The bill would add a punitive element to Pennsylvania’s current preemption law, allowing individuals and out-of-state gun lobby groups to sue local agencies or elected officials for enforcing local gun laws, or simply having them on the books.

Preventing elected officials from taking action on gun violence in their communities would be a step in the wrong direction. Instead, lawmakers should work to pass legislation that will help reduce gun violence in the state, as Shira Goodman, the executive director of CeaseFirePA, wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer last week.

If you have any questions about the dangers of Senate Bill 531 or other actions that could be taken to reduce gun violence in Pennsylvania, don’t hesitate to reach out.