City, Brady Center seek to end NRA lawsuit over reporting ordinance

I don’t understand the constitutional point, but the NRA seems to think that the right to keep and bear arms is affected by a law requiring a person to report a gun was stolen. That is, a right to keep a gun is violated by a requirement to report that gun is gone? I’m at a loss.

"Pittsburgh City Council voted in December to allow authorities to fine gun owners who fail to report lost or stolen firearms. No one has been cited under the ordinance, Pittsburgh police spokeswoman Diane Richard said.

The NRA and four Pittsburgh gun owners sued the city in April, saying the ordinance violated state laws. Meghan Jones-Rolla, a Downtown attorney representing the NRA, said the Pittsburgh lawsuit is factually different than the Philadelphia action.

“One of our plaintiffs has had his firearm stolen. This case has to be decided on its own merits,” said Jones-Rolla, who filed paperwork yesterday to move the Pittsburgh case forward. Arguments are scheduled July 8 before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge R. Stanton Wettick.

City Council President Doug Shields called the court ruling a win.
“The NRA doesn’t have a leg to stand on,” Shields said. “When you make a complaint, you have to show damages. An obligation to report something — how does that affect the right to bear arms?”

The NRA argued in its April complaint that by requiring the reporting to police of the loss or theft of a gun, within 24 hours of learning that it’s missing, the city is infringing on gun rights. The city and Brady Center countered in preliminary objections yesterday that because the gun must leave the owner’s possession before the ordinance kicks in, it can’t infringe on the right to keep and bear arms.

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Maybe because the next logical (or not) step-would be to charge the gun’s owner for leaving it unsecured to be stolen.

I don’t know what the NRA put forward as its objections but I can think of two.

  1. Gun registration is not required in PA. If the gun is recovered, it becomes registered indirectly whether the owner likes it or not.

  2. It might require a gun owner to incriminate him/herself in something illegal or negligent. For example, if someone stupidly left a firearm in the open bed of a pick-up truck and (surprise) it was stolen, he may not want to admit how he lost it.

I’m not saying I agree or disagree. I don’t know enough about the proposed law. But these might be some of the objections raised.

I have firearms locked in my safe that I don’t “inventory” on a monthly basis. Someone enters my home and gets into my safe without my knowledge. Two months later a firearm of mine is recovered at a crime scene. Now I have been robbed and I am going to be charged with a crime because I was robbed. How fair is that?

The other issue - the equal protection clause. Why are only firearms being singled out? Why not include all property?

Third issue, what will the city do with this information? Will they redouble their efforts to recover the weapon and return it to the owner (:rotfl:)? Are they actually going to open an investigation? What interest of the public is being served by this law?

I think the law states within 24 hours of discovery of the loss.

OH requires all felonies to be reported. I think ‘equal protection’ refers to citizens, not to inanimate objects.

Supposedly, it will help the city determine if a ‘straw’ purchase had been made to circumvent the gun sales laws. It oculd help a person get their stuff back, too.

It does. In this case the citizens are being treated differently because of the property they own - or have stolen.

Most people will report the crime of thief in a timely manner, but the objection comes it is aimed at making a criminal out of a victim. that is not justice. That is in fact trying in an underhanded way at making gun owners criminals. All the while we all (that have been victims of burglary) knows that burglary of private homes are low priority crimes in the eyes of the law, yet we have this eagerness to make criminals out of gun owners.

We have the right to own firearms by the constitution, but not the right to own video cameras, yet I don’t see people pushing for laws for people to report thefts of their cameras in a timely manner, in order to prevent its use by pedifiles to make kiddy porn, which does more harm to children then guns.:shrug:

I don’t think the law impedes on constitutional rights. The city states that the law should cut down on illegal sales to gang bangers.

"The bill is intended to deter straw purchasers from selling guns to criminals. When guns are traced back to them from crime scenes, the straw purchasers routinely report them they were lost or stolen. City Police Chief Nate Harper supported the legislation but his boss, Mr. Ravenstahl, did not.

“I appreciate Council’s fervor and creativity in attempting to craft legislation that would not be subject to the preemption hurdles. However, I cannot agree that our Ordinance, as written, would be enforceable. Accordingly, I will not be signing it,” he wrote."

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There is the key – within 24 hours of DISCOVERY of the loss.

Only the person who’s guns were stolen will know when he/she DISCOVERED that they were stolen. How will police KNOW that somebody reported a loss later than 24 hours? You can not REQUIRE somebody to incriminate themselves and admit that they reported the loss later than 24 hours. That REQUIREMENT would violate a person’s 5th amendment rights against self-incrimination.

And without that self-incrimination, there is no way for the police to know that more than 24 hours have gone by and the law was broken. So, what is the point of having an non-enforceable law? It will create situations where the police will try to prove that a owner knew that the gun was stolen but failed to report it. But, again, there is no way to prove that. People will again be accused of a crime and have to prove their innocence and just as there is no way to prove that a person did know that his gun was stolen, there is no way to prove that he didn’t know either.

There is no requirement that a person report that he or she had failed to file a report.

Your discussion of the 5th amendment protections in regard to this law is off base. If the marijuana tax law can be upheld under the fifth amendment (it was!) this ordinance is certainly not self-incrimination.

You can PROVE that somebody made money from selling marijuana. How can you prove that somebody discovered the loss of their firearm but failed to report it? I don’t go into my gun safe on a regular basis and when I do go in, I don’t check every gun that I own.

I ask again, how would you PROVE that somebody discovered the loss of a firearm but failed to report it within the required 24-hour time period? You can’t unless you force the person to incriminate themselves which is a violation of the 5th amendment.

Well, 48 hours after an armed robbery you could ask the guy (or female) when he or she discovered the gun recovered in the robbery gone from his or her possession. Then the person could say or not say. The cops never can force a person to incriminate him or herself, so this ordinance is not out of the ordinary.

Basically, the ordinance makes a person liable as to the whereabouts of his or her firearms. Not a lot to dislike in that, in my view.

Beau, you really have to get rid of this childish hatred of conservatives. :dts:

You don’t get it, do you? A law-abiding citizen would obviously report his gun (or any of his property) stolen as soon as it became known to him while someone who would have less than honorable intentions, will not. So what it the point?

As is stated above, ‘don’t be a straw buyer for gangs and then try to lie about the weapons being stolen’. Or, as they say in the big city: “Don’t buy trouble.”

This is an anti-terrorism ordinance with little burden on the public. What’s not to like?

Person A buys a gun and sells it to as a straw purchase to person B. Unless you can prove that he actually made the sale (in which case, you don’t even need this law because you can prosecute him under already existing laws), how do you charge him with failing to report the gun within this 24-hour time period? His response will always be that he didn’t KNOW that the gun was missing and if he didn’t know, then he can’t be charged under this proposed law.

Well, you examine the story of Person B when the gun is found on him. Or, you ask Person A for his explanation when the gun is found in a car after a drive-by shooting. Prosecutions arise from their stories, or lack of explanation. That’s easy.

The law is designed to deter illegal transactions, not punish folks after the horse is out of the barn.

Problem is, things don’t stay that was for long. Remember some of the provisions in the Patriot Act?

And that accomplishes exactly what? If there is no transfer or registration of firearms required in his state, then it doesn’t matter how he got the gun. If there is transfer or registration of firearms, then the person is already guilty under EXISTING laws. Whether Person A was involved or not comes down to what can be proven. If it can be proven that he gave the gun to person B, then he is also already guilty under existing laws. If is can’t be proven that he gave the gun to person B, then the new law accomplishes nothing either.

Far from easy. If the person honestly didn’t know that his gun is missing, then the law accomplishes nothing. If the person knew that the gun was missing but failed to report it, them he would be required to give up his 5th amendment rights in order to admit it. And if he did something illegally, then what would there be to stop him from lying and say that he didn’t know that it was missing?

Again, the law accomplishes nothing that isn’t already addressed by existing laws or which violates a person’s rights.

I completely disagree. All illegal transactions are already covered by existing laws. The only thing that this law will do is further victimize those who were already a victim of crime and had their gun stolen.

It makes sense to report if your gun is stolen. If someone else uses it to commit a crime, your stolen gun report is your alibi. Otherwise, you can get charged.

HOWEVER fining someone who fails to file one? That’s stupid. What’s next? Fining someone for failure to breathe? Dead people can vote in some places, but how will they pay fines?

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