Philadelphia Mayor Protests State Gun Pre-Emption Law

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After six Philadelphia police officers were wounded in a long, tense standoff with a gunman, Mayor Jim Kenney angrily called for tougher restrictions on guns. “I say to our state and federal lawmakers: Step up — or step aside,” he said after the surrender of the suspect, who had a lengthy criminal record. In Pennsylvania, cities are barred in many ways from setting tough gun restrictions on their own. Kenney’s remarks were the latest in a growing chorus of calls from local leaders for Congress to enact stricter federal gun limits after deadly rampages in El Paso and Dayton. Most states prohibit local governments from adopting nearly any gun regulation that would go beyond state law, the New York Times reports. Pennsylvania legislators “have pre-empted us totally in enforcing any type of regulation, including really simple legislation that would require someone to report a stolen or lost gun,” said Kenney. See also: “PA Gov Orders Police to Monitor Hate Groups, Collect Data on Gun Violence.”

In some rural counties in states like Illinois and Texas, local leaders have been adopting measures aimed at resisting limits on guns rather than tightening them. Some counties have proclaimed their communities “Second Amendment sanctuaries.” In some large cities where crime and gun violence is a daily problem, leaders said they were  frustrated by their own inability to set laws that make sense for their residents. As of last year, 43 states had pre-emption laws. Advocates of the rules say they keep gun regulations consistent across the state, so citizens know they are in compliance wherever they are. Many mayors say pre-emption laws tie their hands on a major issue. In Philadelphia, Kenney received supportive calls and texts from other mayors. “The criminal … was better armed than most of the police on the scene,” he said. “That’s insane.”

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