The Pittsburgh City Council passed an ordinance on December 2, 2008 that required gun owners to notify police when firearms were lost or stolen. Many cities have adopted such policies, which help deter trafficking by preventing criminals from claiming guns traced to them were lost or stolen, rather than sold on the black market. The law also helps police investigate thefts of weapons from law-abiding gun owners. In April 2009, the NRA and a group of its members sued the City, alleging that the reporting rule was moot because Pennsylvania has a law restricting local governments’ ability to regulate guns.
The Brady Center represented Pittsburgh to defend the City’s rule. The defense in the case centered on the legal concept of standing: in general, in order to bring a suit of this type, the plaintiffs must first demonstrate that they are harmed as a result of the challenged law. However, the NRA and its members were never able to demonstrate harm from the rule sufficient to give them standing to bring the case.
Brady Center attorneys argued the City’s case in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County on July 8, 2009, where Senior Judge R. Stanton Wettick dismissed the NRA’s claim due to lack of standing on July 21. The NRA appealed the ruling to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, one of the state’s appeals courts, where arguments were heard on April 20, 2010; the court ruled against the NRA on standing grounds on August 18, 2010.
Finally, the NRA filed a petition for review of the case with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on September 17, 2010; the Brady Center filed a brief opposing the petition on October 4. On June 15, 2011, the Supreme Court denied the NRA’s petition, and rejected a motion to reconsider the denial on December 15, concluding the case.