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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh City Council is digging in on its attempt to ban certain types of weapons, even after the Allegheny County District Attorney says it “does not have the authority to pass” proposed legislation to ban assault weapons in the city.
In a letter to Councilman Corey O’Connor, dated Jan. 9, District Attorney Stephen Zappala said:
“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.”
“The state has to act on it, there is no local authority,” Zappala said.
Despite Zappala’s letter, O’Connor said the city will move forward on its proposed legislation.
“He has every right to his own opinion, we are still going to move forward,” O’Conner said.
The proposed legislation was announced outside council chambers on Dec. 14 and was supported by the governor and the mayor.
The city wants to ban assault rifles, accessories like bump stocks and allow courts to temporarily prohibit anyone determined to be dangerous from possessing a gun.
“Right now you are talking about passing something that you don’t have the statutory authority to do,” Zappala said. “Once you start arresting people, there are constitutional implications to that, there are civil rights implications. I think this could open up a Pandora’s box.
The proposed legislation has been met with opposition from gun rights advocates, including an “Open Carry Rally” earlier this month on the portico of the City-County Building.
“At this point we are going to pass our bills, move forward,” O’Connor said. “Whatever happens after that we will find out.”
Kim Stolfer, an expert on firearms law, is pretty certain what the city will find out.
“They tried to ban firearms in 1993, in 1994 we had to sue them, they lost and there is a consent decree that says they can’t do this.”
O’Conner believes the council can’t be sued.
“We have legislative immunity, our law department told us that,” O’Conner said. ‘So we are not going to stop fighting against gun violence.”