Crawford County Pennsylvania Courthouse

After the NRA helped defeat state legislation that would have required Pennsylvania gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement, dozens of cities statewide enacted the requirement themselves. The gun lobby responded by suing cities that had enacted the measure. When those suits failed, they began pushing bills through the legislature that would make it easier to sue local governments for enacting ordinances such as the lost or stolen reporting requirement.

One such bill has already passed the State Senate and would require cities to pay attorneys’ fees, expert witness fees, court costs and damages if a plaintiff succeeds in a lawsuit. Cities would be required to pay even if the city repealed the ordinance while the lawsuit was still pending. Another bill would require cities to pay triple the damages, fees and costs if a plaintiff were to prevail in court.

One Pennsylvania mayor whose city requires reporting of lost or stolen firearms predicted that if the measure is enacted into law, his city will “spend money fighting frivolous litigation instead of hiring police officers.” Another Pennsylvania mayor of a city with the reporting requirement said, “All we’re trying to do is protect our citizens. We were kind of shocked. The legislation is absolutely insane.”

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