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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Private complaints have been filed against Mayor Bill Peduto, seven members of the Pittsburgh City Council and the City Solicitor over the controversial proposed gun ban.
In December, Councilmembers and Peduto’s office drafted legislation to ban assault rifles, accessories like bump stocks and allow courts to temporarily prohibit anyone determined to be dangerous from possessing a gun.
The complaints filed with Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala argue that the gun legislation violates the Pennsylvania Constitution.
“The gun control ordinances that they have put forward are illegal. The District Attorney has also told them that it’s illegal in a letter, and they just decided to proceed with it anyway. They are demonstrating criminal intent,” gun rights advocate Val Finnell said.
Finnell, a retired Army Colonel from McKees Rocks, filed a private criminal complaint.
Mike Manko, the chief spokesman for the DA’s office, released the following statement:
“We have received a request this date to file a criminal complaint against Pittsburgh City Council members and others. Procedurally, a private criminal complaint must be personally submitted through the local magistrate’s office. Electronic service is not sufficient.
Further, at this time there is insufficient evidence to charge anyone with an offense. A Criminal Attempt or Criminal Conspiracy charge requires more than a political discussion. It requires an overt act. 18 Pa.C.S.A. 6120 prohibits the regulation of firearms not the mere political debate regarding a public concern. Neither the United States Constitution nor the Pennsylvania Constitution criminalize the exercise of a public discussion or public debate of an issue. Clearly the framers of either Constitution would not condone the criminal prosecution of anyone discussing changing laws. It only becomes a crime, when a person’s actions are contrary to established law.”
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The legislation is becoming personal for some local leaders. Both Mayor Bill Peduto and Councilman Corey O’Connor say they have both been the targets of death threats.
“They were going to send some people down here to take my life in a certain way,” said Councilman O’Connor. “I’m not concerned about it, I’ve gone on my daily routine.”
A spokesperson for Peduto said that the threats are coming in “on a continual basis.”
“It’s unfortunate that it is part of being an elected office-holder these days,” said a spokesperson for the Pittsburgh mayor.
The one significant difference between Peduto and O’Connor: Peduto has a security detail, O’Connor has none.
Earlier this month, Zappala issued a letter to Councilman Corey O’Connor, saying, in part, “I am 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 (the constitution),” referring to a state statute that prohibits municipal regulation of firearms.
Zappala goes on to say in the letter that he doesn’t believe City Council has the authority to pass such legislation.
Peduto has since said he intends to keep fighting for the gun legislation.
“Arrest me. You know what, I welcome him trying to put up a lawsuit that would arrest me if I sign this legislation,” Peduto said.