The National Rifle Association was scheduled to go before a Philadelphia judge this morning, seeking an order to block enforcement of a package of gun-control laws that City Council passed last week and that Mayor Nutter signed.
C. Scott Shields, the Media lawyer who filed the lawsuit for the NRA, said a hearing on his request for a temporary restraining order would be held at 10 a.m. in City Hall before Common Pleas Court Judge Jane Cutler Greenspan.
The NRA lawsuit was filed late Tuesday, just hours after District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham told City Council members that she believed the gun-control package was unconstitutional and that she would not enforce it.
Abraham said that as a lawyer and elected official, she was bound to obey the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. In 1996, the court invalidated a city ordinance to regulate assault weapons, ruling that the state legislature in 1994 passed a law specifically barring municipalities from regulating guns.
The state Supreme Court also dismissed on the same ground a 1999 move to hold gun manufacturers liable for Philadelphia’s toll of gun violence.
Abraham said she agreed with the intent of the city laws but added, “I know that the ordinances are invalid and unenforceable according to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.”
But City Solicitor Shelley R. Smith told Council that “our analysis suggests these laws are defensible . . . if we are sued in court.”
Doug Oliver, Nutter’s spokesman, said the city expected a lawsuit “sooner rather than later.”
“If a court of law is where we’ll need to go to force a discussion about how to make our city safe, then that’s where we’ll be,” Oliver said. “As the mayor said, doing nothing is not an option.”
The lawsuit arose before the first arrest could be made. In addition to the NRA, plaintiffs include the National Shooting Sports Foundation; the Pennsylvania Association of Firearms Retailers; Colosimo’s and Firing Line Inc., two Philadelphia gun shops; and several individuals.
The five laws, introduced by Council members Darrell L. Clarke and Donna Reed Miller, were passed unanimously last Thursday and Nutter signed them the same day.
Permit authorities to seek a judge’s order to remove guns from people declared to be a risk to themselves or others.
Ban people who are subject to a protection-from-abuse order from owning guns.
Require gun owners to report to police theft or loss of a gun within 24 hours of the discovery.
Ban possession or sale of assault or contraband firearms within city limits.
Limit firearm purchases to one a month and require buyers to obtain a police certification that they have not purchased another firearm within the previous month.