Barely a week after taking effect, a novel state law that makes it easier for gun-rights groups to challenge local firearms measures in court is already sparking change: Nearly two dozen Pennsylvania municipalities have agreed to get rid of their potentially problematic ordinances rather than face litigation.
Joshua Prince, an attorney for four pro-gun groups and several residents, cited the new law in putting nearly 100 Pennsylvania municipalities on notice that they would face legal action unless they rescinded their firearms laws.
At least 22 of those municipalities have already repealed them, or indicated they planned to do so, according to Prince, who specializes in firearms law and is based in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania, which has a strong tradition of hunting and gun ownership, has long prohibited its municipalities from enforcing firearms ordinances that regulate the ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of guns or ammunition.
Gun-rights groups complained that scores of municipalities have ignored the 40-year-old prohibition by passing their own, mainly unchallenged gun measures.
Under the new state law, gun owners no longer have to prove they have been harmed by the local measure to successfully challenge it, and “membership organizations” like the National Rifle Association can stand in to sue on behalf of any Pennsylvania member. The challenger can also seek damages.
At least one other state, Florida, also permits a membership organization to file suit over local gun regulations.