In one of the final actions of its 2014 legislative session, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives this week approved a preemption measure to ensure firearm and ammunition laws are consistent across the Commonwealth.
House Bill 80, approved by a 138-56 vote, will grant legal standing to "membership organizations" to sue cities and municipalities that enact ordinances that are more restrictive than state firearms laws, and to collect legal fees and other costs if they win.
The bill now heads to Gov. Tom Corbett (R), who is expected to sign it, according to his spokesman, Jay Pagni, who issued a statement this week. Monday's action by the Pennsylvania House concurred with the Senate's Oct. 16 vote.
"The Supreme Court has been clear in previous case law that local ordinances cannot supersede state law,"the Governor's spokesman said.
State firearms preemption was originally enacted by the Pennsylvania Legislature to avoid the possibility of 2,639 separate firearm laws across the Commonwealth. However, in recent years, many localities have enacted gun control ordinances in violation of the current state firearms preemption law, creating a myriad of local gun laws that make compliance difficult for responsible gun owners.
More than two dozen municipalities, including 10 in the Philadelphia suburbs, currently have their own ordinances regarding lost and stolen firearms. An additional 19 have resolutions supporting mandatory reporting.
"This legislation will help ensure that Pennsylvania's law-abiding gun owners don't face a confusing patchwork of firearms laws throughout the state," said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), in a prepared release.
House Bill 1750, an amendment to HB 80 promoted by the anti-hunting organization Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) that would have threated the Pennsylvania tradition of organized bird shoots, was eliminated from the final bill.
The passage of HB 80 marked a successful culmination of four years of effort by the NRA and supportive lawmakers in The Commonwealth. The measure becomes effective 60 days after it is signed.