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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Gun rights advocates are threatening to take legal action over a sign placed outside the Pittsburgh City-County Building.
The new sign at the entrance of the building says: “It is unlawful to possess a firearm or other dangerous device inside this facility. Any person possessing such device or devices is subject to prosecution under 18 PA. C.S.A. Sec 913. All persons entering this facility are subject to search.”
The sign has been placed there in advance of an “Open Carry Rally” set for Monday. The rally is a response to Mayor Bill Peduto’s proposal to ban assault weapons in the city.
Mayor Peduto says the demonstrators have a right to carry their weapons outside the building.
“This very area is an area that’s created for the First Amendment, for the rights of citizens to gather, to protest, and to be able to have free speech no matter what that speech maybe,” he said.
The mayor says all rifles have to be strapped to their owners’ shoulders and all handguns must be holstered. But the sign at the entrance bans weapons from being taken into the building.
“The area behind us is a building which contains courthouses, and it is prohibited to have firearms in courthouses,” Mayor Peduto said.
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A letter from the Firearms Industry Consulting Group addressed to Peduto and members of City Council says the sign is unlawful because it doesn’t say “lockers must be made available within the facility to every individual desiring to secure firearms and other dangerous weapons and that such persons securing firearms or other dangerous weapons must be issued a receipt.”
Kim Stolfer, president of Firearms Owners Against Crime, say the city is violating state law by posting signs in front of the building. While the city says lockers are available to check-in weapons free of charge, the sign does not say that.
“That’s not what the signs say out front to the best of my knowledge,” Stolfer said. “They need to pull those signs down and make sure they comply with the law.”
Joshua G. Prince, a representative of the Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League (ACSL) and Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC), says the two organizations are demanding the signs be removed and if the City plans to replace them, that the new signs advise individuals about the lockers.
“However, in the event that the City fails to immediately take down the unlawful signs, ACSL and FOAC are prepared to take legal action against the City,” Prince writes.
Meanwhile the mayor says he’s waiting for direction on whether to remove the signs.
“If there are challenges that are coming, we’ll have a response by our law department,” Peduto said.
A heavy police presence is expected at the City-County Building for the rally on Monday. City officials say they may even shut down Grant Street.