Gun debate springs from
city proposal to control protesters
Pittsburgh’s short-lived ban on assault weapons, quashed by the General Assembly in 1994, is still on the city’s books, and it may get new life under legislation driven by next month’s G-20 summit.
A little-noted clause in a proposed ordinance written by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s administration to keep protesters from thwarting police crowd control efforts invokes the defunct assault weapons ban. The clause says “no person shall possess” an array of items including 37 “contraband” weapons listed in the ban, “for the purpose of defeating lawful removal” by police.
To Councilman Bruce Kraus, a gun control advocate, it’s “clearly saying that this ban on assault weapons would be an effective tool for policing the G-20.”
City Solicitor George Specter said the clause is “not an attempt to ban such things,” but rather “a restriction on how they are used, in clearly defined, limited circumstances.”
But to Meghan Jones-Rolla, a firearms lawyer who has represented the National Rifle Association locally, it looks like “a back-door attempt at an assault weapons ban.”
“After the G-20, if I’m standing on the corner, and I have an assault weapon, and [a police officer] says, ‘Move,’ am I in violation?”