In ardent defiance of Article 1, Section 21 of the Pennsylvania Constitution and 18 Pa.C.S. §§ 5301, 6120, the City of Pittsburgh has scheduled a public hearing on January 24, 2019 at 6 PM in relation to its illegal firearm proposals.
Prior to the formal announcement of these unlawful proposals, on December 17, 2018, Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®), on behalf of Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League (ACSL) and Firearm Owners Against Crime (FOAC), submitted a 5 page letter addressing the Constitutional, Statutory, and Criminal provisions of the law that prohibit such proposals, as well as, the legion of precedent supporting those provisions. Regardless, on December 18th, City Council formally announced the proposals. More recently, in advance of the Rally in opposition to these proposals that was held on January 7, 2018, the City erected unlawful signs stating that firearms could not be taken into the City-Council Building, when the law requires that lockers be made available for anyone to secure their firearms and other dangerous weapons in the building and that any erected signage must inform the individual of that right. As a result, FICG submitted another letter addressing the unlawful nature of the signage, which the City ignored and failed to comply with, and even went so far as to have Mayor Peduto tell reporters that it was unlawful to have firearms in the City-Council Building.
And let there be no dispute that the Mayor and City Council are acutely aware that their conduct is prohibited by the law. In fact, City Council Member Strassburger went as far as to say
“My council colleagues and the mayor and I are aware of the state laws that are on the books, and we happen to strongly disagree with them,” Strassburger said, referring to Pennsylvania’s preemption law prohibiting municipalities from regulating firearms. “If there’s not political will to make change, we’re ready and willing to make changes through the court system.”
Thus, not only is Strassburger stating that City Council intends to enact the proposals regardless of the law and without consideration for any statements made during the public hearing, but she is vocally advocating for judicially activist judges to legislate from the bench, thereby, usurping the checks and balances of our Constitution and separate branches of government.
With the public hearing being scheduled for January 24, 2019, a lot of people are interested in attending and speaking in opposition to the proposals; however, there is some confusion about who will be able to speak and for how long.
Pursuant to City Council’s Rules, which were revised in November of 2017, all meetings are open to the public. In relation to Public Comment, Section III., Section 4., Subsection C.,
opportunity for comment by residents or taxpayers will be provided as the first order of business at any special meetings of the Council…Comment is limited to matters of concern, official action or deliberation which are or may be before Council, and unless determined otherwise by a majority of Council Members present; is limited to three (3) minutes per individual…The public comment period shall be recorded.
However, there is a separate section, Section VI, that also specifically addresses public hearings. While it does not provide specifics about the amount of time to be heard, it specifically declares that the right to public hearing is not that merely of “petitioners” but also that of “remonstrates” (i.e. objectors). Interestingly, there is no provision in the Public Hearing section relative to those who wish to speak in support of a proposal.
So, what about those who objected (or who object but have not previously noticed City Council) and are not residents or taxpayers? The Rules do not speak to them; however, the City Clerk has informed us that those who have petitioned, consistent with the Rule mentioned above, will be permitted 3 minutes and after those individuals are heard, anyone else wishing to be heard will be provided 1 minute. Given the extremely limited amount of time, we would suggest that you consider writing out all of your concerns, submitting that as your testimony during the public hearing, and merely hitting some high points of your objections, referencing your written testimony, so that you can be heard within the time limits. When the City Clerk was asked how City Council would handle a situation, where so many individuals intend to testify that there is insufficient time for everyone to be heard, she responded that she did not know.
How Can YOU Help?
Obviously, if you are able to attend the public hearing and speak in opposition to the proposals, including by submitting written testimony, you will let City Council know that We The People will not tolerate our elected officials violating the law.
If you are in a position to be able to support these matters, ACSL and FOAC would greatly appreciate donations, which can be made online through the Firm’s escrow account here – https://secure.lawpay.com/pages/civilrightsdefensefirm/trust. Simply place “ACSL/FOAC Pittsburgh Preemption Litigation” in the reference box.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of an unlawful municipal firearm or ammunition regulation or ordinance, contact FICG today to discuss your options.
Firearms Industry Consulting Group® (FICG®) is a registered trademark and division of Civil Rights Defense Firm, P.C., with rights and permissions granted to Prince Law Offices, P.C. to use in this article.