Saturday, November 29, 2008

Local government treason

Here is a picture of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania City Commissar Councilmember Tonya Payne. She purports to represent the peasants of District 6:

Last week, Ms. Payne and 5 of her colleagues voted 6-1 to pass an ordinance requiring city residents to report lost or stolen firearms within 24 hours or face a fine of $500.

My criticism is not of the merits of this particular bill, but rather of the fact that the Council passed this ordinance despite knowing full well that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has complete preemption of all firearms laws. This means that local government entities (such as, say, the city of Pittsburgh) may not enact any legislation whatsoever regarding guns, as the Legislature has reserved that task for itself. The bill just passed by Ms. Payne and Co. will be immediately challenged and overturned in court, with the local chump taxpayer playing the usual role of financing the city's legal bills.

(Preemption is a statutory technique commonly used by states to regulate all sorts of subjects, not just firearms. It's usually done in order to establish statewide legal uniformity of a given issue, and to prevent a crazy, confusing, unenforceable patchwork of local ordinances (which have nothing to do with running a city) that would require a citizen to carry around some sort of cheat sheet in order to determine what the law was on the particular piece of sidewalk they were currently standing on.)

Here's what Ms. Payne had to say when informed that her spanking new ordinance is most likely doomed to be struck down before it's even implemented:

"'Who really cares about it being unconstitutional?' said Councilwoman Tonya Payne, a supporter. 'This is what's right to do, and if this means that we have to go out and have a court battle, then that's fine ... We have plenty of dead bodies coming up in our streets every single day, and that is unacceptable.'" (Emphases mine)

So, in her version of reality, the "acceptable" thing to do in response to a perceived problem is to come up with a solution that may or may not work, regardless of whether the proposed regulations pass Constitutional muster, as long as she believes that what she's imposing on the peasants is "right", all the while merrily spending their hard-earned money along the way to fight the court challenges of other peasants who understandably are upset about this course of action. Do I have it about right, ma'am?

Again, the problem is not the subject of the law or whether the legislation is or isn't a good idea, it's that it's illegal to pass and implement it in the first place. Pick any issue, not just firearms, to see how out of control things could get without state preemption. What if Pittsburgh made the adoption of children within the city limits a crime, just because they thought it caused some sort of harm to the town?

This is the sort of imperious, overreaching thinking that regularly goes on from the local City Hall all the way up to Congress and the White House. The overlords know what's best for us, so they're going to pass a law to make it happen (usually while exempting themselves from the onerous regulations, of course), and regardless of whether they actually have the authority to do so. "Go ahead and sue us, we've got deeper pockets than you courtesy of you and your neighbors, so take your best shot".

It's unfortunate that only Ricky Burgess, the lone "no" vote on the Council, seems to understand the law in Pennsylvania:

"This ordinance will not be enforced, no loopholes will be closed and no lives will be saved, because no municipality can legally regulate firearms of any kind, at any time, for any reason."

The six Councilmembers who voted "yes" on this bill in spite of knowing full well the state law on the subject should be immediately impeached and removed from office because of the blatant violation of their official oath to support and uphold the Constitution and the laws of the United States and of Pennsylvania.

Some of us still take those oaths seriously.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I suggest that every gun owner in the city temporarily misplace, and report as lost, a nonexistent gun of a model that was manufactured before serial numbers were in use.