Mr. Frankel, whose district includes the [Tree of Life] synagogue, is pitching two bills that would seek to remove so-called “pre-emption language” from either state law or the Allegheny County code. Pennsylvania courts have ruled that such language prohibits cities from enacting gun laws that differ substantially from state law, striking down, for example, assault weapon bans in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
“What I’m trying to do is, basically, change those laws and remove the pre-emption for local governments and allow them to move forward in light of the fact that the state has been unable or unwilling to address the issues,” Mr. Frankel said.
After the Tree of Life Synagogue murders, elected officials in Pittsburgh are considering how to avoid state-level preemption laws in order to strengthen gun regulation in the city. From Jon Delano, KDKA:
Mayor Peduto alluded to stronger gun control measures at the Rally for Peace last Friday.
“Strength is not about how many guns you have,” the mayor said. “Strength is made by the compassion of your heart. And let us gather today to make sure as we move forward, we move forward as one America, working on common sense reform that will end this type of violence.”
It’s still unclear what city officials are planning, says Councilman Corey O’Connor, who’s working with the mayor.
Shira Goodman, who is the executive director of CeaseFire PA, pointed to specific weak points in current state law, including license and permitting, waiting periods, training requirements, and background check loopholes. The barrier to Pittsburgh taking action on its own is that state law prevents cities from passing stronger gun regulations than the state. Combined with national legislation like Concealed Carry Reciprocity, preemption laws are another mechanism to subvert local control when it comes to gun regulation and force a one-size-fits-all approach to firearm laws in areas of states with dramatically different priorities when it comes to the issue.
If and how the city can get around these restrictions remains to be seen, and will set a precedent for other cities who are tired of having their rights to protect their people restricted.
Pittsburgh Public Schools will not be arming its school police officers with guns.
On a 1-8 vote Wednesday night, the board that oversees the district of about 24,000 students nixed a proposal to provide guns to school officers stationed at high school campuses as well as in mobile units that respond to incidents across the district’s 54 schools.
Board member Moira Kaleida suggested that arming police with guns in schools could be detrimental to some students, particularly those who have experienced trauma. She also had concerns that the move could negatively impact students of color and children with disabilities.
The vote was the result of a request from the district police chief earlier this month, but board members expressed concern about the change armed officers in schools would have on the student’s well-being. A federal study showed that armed officers were present at least once a week in 43% of public schools in 2015-16, up from just 31% ten years prior.