PA SAFE Caucus members oppose firearms pre-emption legislation

HARRISBURG, April 25 – Members of the House PA SAFE Caucus today expressed opposition to firearm pre-emption legislation that would make it easier for gun groups such as the NRA to sue Pennsylvania municipalities at taxpayers’ expense.

House Bill 671 would permit individuals to sue municipalities they feel have “adversely affected” their firearm rights. The bill would put municipalities on the hook for legal expenses if the individual is successful, but would not require those taking legal action to cover expenses if the municipality prevails.

The bill would also extend to outside organizations those individuals are members of, meaning organizations like the NRA could file suits.

“This legislation would dangerously inflate Pennsylvania’s firearm pre-emption laws, giving extraordinary power to groups that could file frivolous lawsuits for their own gain. And our taxpayers would be the ones stuck with the bill, no matter the outcome,” said state Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Montgomery, who co-chairs the PA SAFE Caucus with Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny. “We shouldn’t open our municipalities up to this kind of threat, nor should we take control from municipalities to provide for the safety of their residents.”

Members of the SAFE Caucus said there are better ways for the legislature to be looking at the issue of firearms.

“Instead of going out of our way to make it easier for the gun lobbyists to sue local municipalities that seek to protect their residents from gun violence, we as state lawmakers should be focused on what is really important: commonsense legislation that would reduce gun violence and increase safety for our citizens,” said state Rep. Perry Warren, D-Bucks. “House Bill 671 does nothing to keep our community members safe or to protect their tax dollars.”

“This legislation would put our local officials in the precarious position of having to choose between doing what they think is right for their citizens or facing a lawsuit that could bankrupt them,” said Rep. Tim Briggs, D-Montgomery. “It would give outside organizations unprecedented influence over local matters.”

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court repealed an earlier version of this legislation after it was passed unconstitutionally as an amendment on an unrelated bill.

“House Bill 671 takes away the ability of local elected officials to keep their communities safe,” said Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, D-Delaware. “We need to protect Pennsylvania residents from gun violence, not pass a bad bill at the urging of the NRA.”

A number of amendments to House Bill 671 are expected to be considered this week.

The PA SAFE caucus is a group of lawmakers who are committed to reducing all types of violence in society through steps that include working to reduce gun violence. Learn more about the caucus here.