Frankel: Legislature must stop stonewalling and empower local communities to protect people

Legislation would allow communities to respond to shootings, violence by ending state preemption

PITTSBURGH, June 3 – Joined by the mayor of Pittsburgh, elected officials and community advocates, state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, today called upon the state legislature to stop stonewalling and to empower local governments to address gun violence issues that it has, to date refused to reckon with.

“The Pennsylvania General Assembly has abdicated its responsibility to protect this commonwealth when it comes to gun violence,” said Frankel. “That’s true on our city streets, where we lose young people week after week and leave their communities with layers of trauma. That’s true of hate-driven attacks like the one in Squirrel Hill, and it’s true of the many, many gun suicides that occur in Pennsylvania every year. My legislation would simply allow our communities to make their own rules regarding firearms, just as they do for fire prevention or traffic regulation.”

Frankel’s legislation, HB 1537 and HB 1538, would amend state laws to remove language that blocks local governments from enacting local rules regarding firearms. The bills would provide municipal and county governments the latitude needed in state law to create local ordinances that reflect residents’ desire to invoke reasonable, constitutional regulations for firearm ownership and use.

For example, in the wake of the Tree of Life massacre, Pittsburgh’s local leadership tried to protect its citizens by prohibiting the use of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines within city limits. Despite overwhelming public support for the restrictions, they were blocked by Pennsylvania’s preemption law. 
Philadelphia likewise tried to keep children and their families safe by enacting local laws to keep guns and other deadly weapons out of playgrounds and recreation centers, but was also prevented from doing so by state preemption language. 

Frankel, who co-founded the PA Safe Caucus 22 years ago to fight for firearm regulations in Harrisburg, said that it is long past time to allow municipal governments to do what state legislators have failed to do.

“The reality here is that Pennsylvanians are dying, communities are suffering, and we can do something about it,” Frankel said. “If the state legislature won’t look at the evidence and act to protect the public when it comes to firearm regulation, it needs to get out of the way and allow local officials to keep their residents safe.”