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Two weeks ago, gun rights supporters rallied in Pittsburgh to protest the mayor’s plan to defy Pennsylvania’s state-wide preemption law and enact an “assault weapons ban” and red flag law within the city. Nevertheless, the Pittsburgh city council plans to vote on gun control legislation for the city by mid-February.

From the NRA-ILA, here’s why the city council doesn’t actually have the authority to pass these laws:

Like most other U.S. states, Pennsylvania reserves regulation of firearms to the state legislature. State law is clear that “[n]o county, municipality or township may in any manner regulate the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms, ammunition or ammunition components when carried or transported for purposes not prohibited by the laws of this Commonwealth.”

Pittsburgh should be under absolutely no illusions about its local authority to regulate firearms, or to prohibit “assault weapons” in particular, having already lost a preemption challenge to a previous assault weapon ban in the 1996 case of Ortiz v. Commonwealth.

Last week, Pittsburgh District Attorney Stephen Zappala wrote a letter to the city council explaining that passing these gun control measures through a city council vote would likely be a criminal act. The letter reads as follows (emphasis ours):

Dear Councilman O’Connor:

I greatly appreciate you forwarding me the proposed legislation, referenced above. As the District Attorney of Allegheny County for the past 20 years, I understand the efforts to curtail gun violence and limit the accessibility to assault weapons, ammunition, and gun accessories capable of causing widespread injury, destruction, and death. I am also aware of the city’s effort previously under Mayor Ravenstahl which was decided against the city in 2010. While I certainly see the desire for such type of legislation at the state and federal levels, I believe that City Council does not have the authority to pass such legislation.

In support of that opinion, I would refer you to 18 Pa.C.S. §6120; Ortiz v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 681 A.2d 152 (Pa. 1996); Dillon v. City of Erie, 83 A. 3d 467 (Pa.Cmwlth. 2014); and Firearm Owners v. Lower Merion Township, 151 A.3d 1172 (Pa.Cmwlth. 2016). I am certain that you have sought the legal advice of your Law Department as to whether 18 Pa.C.S. §6119 would permit a criminal complaint to be filed against an individual member of Council who violates 18 Pa.C.S. §6120 by voting to adopt these types of regulations. Likewise, I am sure you have discussed the due process implications of enacting any legislation reviewed by your Law Department, and found to be unconstitutional. I am also certain that you realize that if such legislation passes, there is sure to be a resident of Allegheny County who seeks to file a private criminal complaint alleging a violation of §6120. Those are matters which will confront my Office, should the legislation be enacted. This letter is not intended to express any opinion on the merits or outcome of any effort to charge such violation against Council members. I do not have any knowledge of the legal opinion provided to you by your Law Department. I mention the matters just to ensure their consideration by you and Council.

As indicated, I understand the desire of local governments to be proactive in reducing gun violence and the opportunities to cause the type of pain, suffering, and death, which recently occurred in the City of Pittsburgh. I believe however, that the legislative effort needs to come from the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and that the legislation currently before Council, if passed, will be found unconstitutional.

Note that Zappala’s letter is actually quite sympathetic to the idea of gun control – he’s suggesting that he’d like to see more stringent gun control measures passed. He just wants them passed legally.

However, the author of the proposed gun control legislation, City Councilman Corey O’Connor, essentially tore up and burned Zappala’s very reasonable letter.

Here is a partial transcript of what O’Connor stated in an interview on public radio:

LYNNE HAYES-FREELAND (HOST): So, this letter from the DA’s office, were you surprised by it? Did you expect it? What was your reaction?

COREY O’CONNOR: We got it, uh, last week, um, so I’m really surprised all of a sudden it’s a social media post. Our office also talked to his office about the legislation before the letter even came over to us, so I don’t really understand what the need for social media was… but yeah, we received the letter last week, yeah.

HAYES-FREELAND: Well, what’s your reaction? I mean, he is arguing in the letter… a lot of what some of the open carry proponents had argued over the last couple weeks, that they believe this proposed legislation is illegal.

O’CONNOR: Yeah, I would argue we are doing the right thing, uh, we said we were gonna do this, and when we get elected officials that come out against gun violence… I mean, we’re not just talking about three bills, I mean, there’s five bills that we’re proposing to talk about gun violence, and they’re commonsense approaches to it. We are taking the stand that we are doing what’s right for our constituents. And not only that, we’ve seen this occur all across the country, and when are people gonna stand up and actually fight? I mean, we have a good coalition that we’ve built on council, with organizations outside of council throughout the state that are willing to finally take a stand and fight against gun violence. I don’t understand what the rationale would be to take the opposite side, when we see this as a daily occurrence.


HAYES-FREELAND: So, final question, Corey O’Connor, representative from City Council, you got this letter, you got it last week, surprised you that it popped up on social media today, but the bottom line for you is you’re gonna keep pushing toward the proposed legislation.

O’CONNOR: Yeah, you know, we believe we’re on the right side of history. We believe we’re doing what’s right for our city but we think this is what’s right across the country, and nobody is gonna stop us from doing that. And we are going to get, hopefully, our votes from City Council to pass this bill and move forward from there.

What is there to add? The corruption and hypocrisy really couldn’t be any clearer. You can also listen to the full recording right here:

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    • Interesting statement! I mean, if this article is correct, that this dimbulb can actually be criminally charged, *himself*, if he pushes this law, he may very well be taking it up the butt for a few years as a result. Perhaps that is his goal. The idea makes his actions look (possibly) less stupid.

      • Well, let him take his stand, and then take the consequences! In this case the process has been made clear. He just can’t read or comprehend. OR, he is thinking too big for his britches, as Grandma use to say.

    • Nothing won’t with that if that’s your thing and it’s consensual. It’s him butt ducking his constituents because he “feels right” that’s the problem.

      • Well there’s nothing inherently wrong butt too much butt play can result in hemroidds. Check with your doctor for further rectal tips.

  1. Does PA have a state equivalent of 42 USC 1983?

    If so, I could see one heck of a lawsuit against the individual counsel members for conspiracy to violate civil rights — they have been told by their own legal advisor that what they are planning on doing is illegal (so no qualified immunity) but are doing it anyway. Ridiculous, but unless / until they, individually, get slapped down for this, they will just keep doing it.

    • Should the proposed ordinance get signed by the mayor, anyone in their jurisdiction so affected can file a Private Criminal Complaint against the individual council members voting for it plus the mayor for signing it. The complaint would charge them each, individually, both personally and professionally, with criminal conspiracy, official oppression, and violating state preemption.

      The complaint would go first to a district magistrate judge in Pittsburgh, then get passed on to the county district attorney (Stephen Zappala).

      • Since the District Attorney has to prosecute the cases (which his office can’t because, as an agent of the court, they know the law is both unconstitutional and illegal) the only thing the city can do is to unlawfully arrest and detain anyone violating the law. The DA wuuld then refuse to prosecute.

        A few cases like that and they’ll have a (possibly very lucrative) class action suit against them. The letter in the article will be good evidence against them.

        My hunch is they’ll pass it to feel good but it won’t be enforced so no one ever has standing to sue.

        • They like to hand power down the line. Like Obama couldn’t do the executive order gun control thing but good ole Trump got it done.

        • I believe any citizen in the jurisdiction has the standing to sue, simply by being a resident. No need to be arrested. The simple passage of the law violates preemption, no enforcement is necessary.

        • Who determines that? The buddy he works with to fight crime? Like the district attorney? Who is going to bring the beer at the next BBQ?

          Government doesn’t like to hold government accountable because a lot of them are friends. At the very least they are working for a common goal. It’s usually the people that have to hold government accountable for breaking the law.

  2. “…we think this is what’s right across the country, and nobody is gonna stop us from doing that.”

    You’re wrong, you will be stopped one way or another, so I suggest you hide and watch!

  3. This councilman and his city council cohorts sound like a bunch of lefty-progressive social justice warriors out to ban legal gun ownership any way that they think they can. To me, his gambit sounds like a rather militant defiance of anything and anybody that doesn’t like their elitist, morally-superior views. I hope if the city law is passed, that the state government comes down on them like stink on a skunk and makes them regret they were ever elected.

  4. We are getting close to a time when elected officials like this openly admit violating the Constitution – they must be judged by a Tribunal of the People & Summarily Executed for TREASON.

    • In ages past politicians wrapped their steaming piles of dung with flowery language that at least paid lip-service to the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions. Now we are seeing politicians — unabashedly and smugly no less — flat-out defying the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions.

      In other words politicians see no need to even “wine and dine” us: they just go straight to raping us.

      Sounds like those politicians will be needing a smack-down sooner rather than later.

      • In the overarching society the widespread use of soy may, in part, explain the growing number and growing cup size of man-boobs.

        • A growing number of men in America can’t wait, thus they buy some boobs. And Mountain Dew helps with the transition.

        • “And Mountain Dew helps with the transition.”

          Eh, I’m kinda dim. How, exactly?

          The high calories of liquid perfection ‘Mountain Dew’?

        • “Eh, I’m kinda dim. How, exactly?”

          It’s a jab at transgender people. Guys who wanna be ladies specifically. He’s suggesting that they don’t need the hormones or a surgery when they can just drink enough sugary soda to make themselves fat enough to have man-boobs.

  5. This is why we must speak up about these things. When idiots like the councilman break the law they have to pay the price. When law abiding people purchase a weapon to protect them selves from the criminals that some idiot government person supports we must speak up. This will be the only way we can keep our selves safe and our family safe. When the rest of America sees that the majority of lawmakers are nothing but pond scum then we will see change.

  6. They never propose anything AGAINST THE CRIMINAL?? Why not, it is the CRIMINAL who is using a “tool” to break the law. Put some TEETH into legislation against the Criminal an stop trying to make criminals out of legal, law abiding citizens. How about a Mandatory Death Sentence for anyone using a firearm ILLEGALLY to kill another person; that will stop the criminal one way or another!

    Let them pass their law and the SUE their socks off individually for BIG MONEY.. Turn THEM into the CRIMINALS that they are by trying to pass an ILLEGAL set of “laws”.. Nothing about what they want that is “common sense”.

    • the next election can’t get here soon enough!….can you even picture this jerk in a hard-hat and actually working for a living?

      • “…can you even picture this jerk in a hard-hat and actually working for a living?”

        Not only can I picture it, I’ve seen someone disturbingly similar in appearance do so, albeit poorly.

        At the time I had quit smoking for quite a while. Picked up the habit again so I’d have an excuse to disappear when that moron jumped in a forklift (or any other piece of machinery). Scary as it sounds, starting smoking again was actually a health decision in this case.

        The closest I’ve even been to believing in God was the day they told that idiot that under no circumstances would he ever be allowed to run a boom lift or a telehandler.

    • Most of our laws are illegal.

      People don’t even know what a right is. They think driving is a privilege. So why can’t owning a weapon also be considered a privilege like it is in Europe?

  7. Where are all these MENTAL MIDGETS coming from. Because I “THINK I’M RIGHT “ it’s ok for me to break the LAW ! WOW🤦‍♂️

  8. Tyrants.

    They are right though. No one is going to do a damn thing to stop them because America doesn’t do that anymore. We will just sit there as the politicians, judges and law enforcement do what they please. Then we ask some organization to sue until the Supreme Court takes the case.

  9. Those that violate the Constitution (both the Federal and State Constitutions and State law in this case) eventually wind up on the wrong side of history (especially when interfering with the right to bear arms – just ask the British).

    • The winner writes history.

      Americans already lost one civil war with their government, I doubt they will start another one. It’s not so bad being s slave these days — we get fast food, VR porn, video games, sports, drugs, etc.

    • he probably won’t act independently…someone will have to force his hand…this guy has future political aspirations…

    • They have to pass it and enforce it first for someone to have standing to sue.

      They may pass it to feel good but enforcement would cause the police and the DA lots of trouble.

      I hope the SCOTUS takes a case firearns case soon and rules that strict scrutiny applies. After a bunch of lawsuits, nonsense like this will come to an end.

  10. Non res CCW will get chopped sooner than later in PA, it’s low hanging fruit. I’ve been a PA license holder for years and every time renewal comes up it seems fewer county Sheriffs are willing to do non res.

    • As they say, Pennsylvania consists of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in the middle.

      There are parts of Pennsylvania where Trump won with 87% of the vote.

      The State Legislature is heavily Republican. Don’t see that changing anytime soon.

      Just look at the district by district voting maps for the last 20 years. Lots of red in Pennsylvania.

      The areas the Republicans are loosing are the cities and the suburbs near and around Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and some of the smaller cities. And many of those areas would vote Republican if it wasn’t for Trump.

      You don’t have to go far into Montgomery, Bucks, Chester, and Delaware counties around Philadelphia to find strong support for the 2A.

      • The areas the Republicans are loosing are the cities and the suburbs near and around Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and some of the smaller cities.

        And that is a huge problem since that is something like 50% of the population of Pennsylvania. Remember, population — not land ownership area — determines vote counts.

  11. So the DA has now laid a bear trap on the floor, called attention to it and labeled it for exactly what it is.

    Somehow I get the feeling a bunch of people are still going to step in it… and then complain that their leg hurts.

  12. Many people own guns so that they can protect themselves, their families, and belongings from criminals who would violate or credibly threaten to violate their rights to life, liberty, and property.

    O’Connor the councilrat has declared that he wants to be a criminal who violates his neighbors’ rights to life, liberty, and property.

    And he doesn’t see where this is headed? S-s-s-s-stupid!

  13. Democrat O’Connor’s privilege is showing. “Yeah, the people voted in state and federal constitutions, but why should they restrain me? I know what’s best and shouldn’t be bothered to ask the state legislature to take this up.”

  14. He may think they’re on “the right side of history” but they will unquestionably be on “the wrong side of the law”. The consequences for the latter will likely be adjudged much sooner than that of the former

  15. I only wish for the residents of Pennsylvania.
    That their laws had the same implications as Florida’s Preemption laws do. This Klownz pre reserved jail cell and all court costs would get full use. Not to mention possible loss of office.

  16. They can’t do this, they can’t do that,,,and then they do because they can. The Republic is over. Long live the Dictatorship.

  17. Pittsburgh City Councilman: Violating the Constitution is Fine if You’re “On the Right Side of History”and not decorating main st. at the end of a rope.

  18. This douchewad just charged a Conservative being attacked by Antifa scum who was trying to leave from getting his truck destroyed with speeding and reckless driving while the police watched it happened and did NOTHING to the Antifa Trash.

    • I just saw video of exactly that happening in Vancouver, Washington. Is that the incidence you’re thinking of?

      That’s the opposite end of the country.

  19. Didn’t Harrisburg try passing gun control a few years ago despite the preemption law and they were slapped down by the courts within months? It’s sad that this guy can just willingly blow the money of the tax payers to go to court for a case that he knows he is going to lose.

  20. This is the oath politicians must take when being sworn into office. So how many politicians have violated this oath especially Democrats? Especially those who support gun control and Sanctuary status for non-citizens over American citizens. Anyone who knowingly violates this oath should be immediately removed from office and charged with sedition and treason including federal, state, city and municipal elected officials
    Title 5, Section 3331 of the United States Code. It reads: “I, ___________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.” In contrast to the presidential oath, where it’s used only by tradition, the phrase “so help me God” has been part of the official oath of office for non-presidential offices since 1862.

  21. What might the councilman’s response be to the following. What say you if it turned out, as I submit is obviously the case, that you are/were on the wrong side of history, as you are on the WRONG side of state law.

    • If they pass these laws in violation of Pennsylvania code nothing will be done at the state or local level in the way of prosecution for their violation of law.

  22. Abraham Lincoln- “When laws only apply to some people and not all people equally then all law is at an end.” Go ahead and let them pass the bill then have the Pennsylvania State Police come into the chambers and arrest them. They want it so bad then they need to be held accountable for their illegal actions. A little jail time will do them some good.

  23. I’m sorry to say but whenever I see a white American city councilman say violating the Constitution is for the best, for the people, it reminds me of those white Sheriff’s who denied Martin Luther King jr. A gun permit after his home was bombed.

    Happy MLK day.

    • BTW
      If anyone is wondering this is a good example of why Liberals are so hated in the gun community.

      They run Portland, Seattle, the gay power city of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and every major city in the country. They are all just like those white Sheriff’s who denied MLK and any other black person a gun permit who had been attack by the Klan.

      And they are the same Liberals who ordered the police to “stand down”, just like the police were told to stand down in the 1950s and 60s.

      Black people could purchase guns through the mail and have them delivered to their doorstep. Along with ammunition. This way they could defend themselves and their property against attack. Mail-order is how Dr. TMR Howard of Kentucky and civilrights leader received his Thompson submachine gun. However liberals took care of that by writing 1968 gun control act making mail-order guns illegal.

      The white liberals even said they were doing it for the good of black people.

  24. Lawless governments are the “right side of history”? Something about that is juuuuust a bit off according to the lessons of history. Do you think he meant “the most common mistake of history”?

  25. You’re younger than I am and probably not quite as intelligent so you are you to define future history? Taking away freedom and interfering with an UNALIENABLE right is the “right” side of history. I’m sorry we live in the same state. Read section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution if you yet haven’t.

  26. Show up for the city council meeting on the 24th of this month, at 6pm. Yes this month. They are to discuss these proposed violations of our rights!

  27. Apparently he hasn’t read any history because if you are on the “right side of history” you would want a fully armed population. Unless of course your intent is to enslave the population but then you fail to take into account the natural desire of humans to be free to make their own decisions. All through history when government tries to rule instead of leading people revolt and it doesn’t end well. Build the wall on the southern border, stop the flow of drugs, eliminate welfare as an incentive to young women having babies without a father in the house, strengthen families and you strengthen communities. It is difficult to put the toothpaste back in the tube but we have to start somewhere. The social experiment of the past 60 years has been a total failure.

  28. So if it’s rooted in history it’s OK…

    Women not allowed to drive, serve on juries or voting
    Blood letting
    Honor killings
    Human sacrifices

    • women voting & holding office = the amazing: boxer-shorts (ret.), camel hair-on-its-a**, fartstain, optional-kotex, pees-loosely, wasserman-test, toilet-waters

  29. OMG!!!
    This hack and others like him are damn DANGEROUS.
    Thinking “TAR and FEATHERS” may be a thing for such TYRANTS.

  30. This is an example of what is going on across America, politicians ignoring existing written law to do something the way they think it should be.

    The American people have to make a decision shortly, are we going to have a government of laws or a government of whim.

    Phrased in a different way…..

    If that guy can choose to ignore any law he doesn’t like, such as the second amendment or a state preemption law, then I can choose to ignore any law I don’t like.

    This leads to chaos. That is where we are heading and we will get there soon.

    Be Prepared !

  31. By his logic it is then OK for me to kill him if I am on the right side of the argument to defend the constitution.

  32. People who think they’re on the right side of history are often shocked when they find that they are the wrong side as they are lined up against a wall in front of a firing squad or rotting away in a cell.

  33. We are seeing a generation of people who were not taught history! All that needs to be done is take a gander at Venezuela if you want to see a recent picture of what the left is leading us to.

  34. The mayor disregards federal immigration with no reprecussions so they feel they can also ignore state law whenever they want. I feel that if they don’t have to follow laws they don’t like then we who don’t like their illegal laws don’t have to follow them.

  35. Sounds to me like someone will decide to violate your make believe law and get arrested….then become incredibly rich from suing you and your entire City Council and the City itself…..should be great evidence as all Council meetings are a matter of public information…..along with this letter from your D.A. advising you of the legalities……LOL


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