Daring opponents to stop them, Philly City Council passes a ‘red flag’ law | Friday Morning Coffee

November 15, 2019 7:04 am

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
With Harrisburg in park — and gun violence in Pennsylvania’s largest city showing no signs of abating — Philadelphia City Council took matters into its own hands on Thursday, passing a ‘red flag’ law that will allow law enforcement, acting on a court order, to seize the weapons of someone who poses an immediate threat to themselves or to public safety.

As our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report, the measure’s sponsor, Council Member Curtis Jones, believes the bill will stand up to any preemption challenge brought against it in court.

“We’ve been given encouraging news from the Law Department that it does have legs to stand on,” Jones told the Tribune’s Michael D’Onofrio. “We may get sued, but until it goes through the courts, it is the law of the city of Philadelphia.”

More from the Tribune:
Mike Dunn, a spokesman for the Kenney administration, said in an email that the legislation will be reviewed by the city’s Law Department, but stopped short of saying whether the mayor will sign the bill.

The Philadelphia Police Department supports Jones’ legislation. At a council hearing for the bill in OctoberPolice Inspector Fran Healy, a special adviser to acting Police Commissioner Christine Coulter, described the bill as common-sense gun legislation that could help prevent mass shootings and suicides.

The legislation builds on a city law already on the books by laying out a process for police and the courts to temporarily remove firearms from some individuals.

(Image via Flickr Commons)

The bill’s passage comes just weeks after an Allegheny County court judge struck down Pittsburgh’s own locally adopted gun ordinances, which the city approved in response to the October 2018 murders at the Tree of Life synagogue, in the city’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood, that claimed 11 lives.

The Republican-controlled state House and Senate are sitting on proposals that would make extreme risk protection orders, as ‘red flag’ laws are formally known, the law of the land in Pennsylvania. Earlier this fall, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rob Kaufmann, R-Franklin, said he would not bring any such measure to a vote while he chaired the panel.

Kauffman, however, is believed to be working on reforms to the state’s involuntary commitment law, which some see as a watered-down alternative to red flag laws. In the meantime, more people continue to be shot on the streets of Pennsylvania’s cities and towns. Local officials, however, aren’t content to stand by and watch.

“If we save one or 100 people in the meantime, so be it,” Jones said to the Tribune, referring to any potential legal challenges to his proposal.

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Our Stuff.
The top campaign staffer for Pa. Senate Democrats has stepped down after a sexual harassment allegation made while he was at a previous employer, Stephen Caruso reports.

Rural Pennsylvania’s immigrant workforce is growingCaruso also reports, crunching the numbers in a new statewide study.

A stretch of Broad Street in North Philadelphia will be renamed for the late civil rights champion, the Rev. Leon Sullivan, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune also report.

On our Commentary Page, here’s why impeachment witnesses George Kent and Bill Taylor are exactly the kind of heroes we need right now. And public education activist Larry Feinberg makes the argument for opposing a vouchers bill that could come before the state House next week.

Is Philly Mayor Jim Kenney really going to run for governor in 2022? Insiders at City Hall tell the Inquirer not to bet the ranch on it.
confrontation in an elevator is at the center of Allegheny County Controller Cheslsa Wagner’s trial in Detroit, the Post-Gazette reports.
Quakertown’s new lunch shaming policy includes sending debts to a collection agency and barring kids from participating in dances and graduation — because that will solve everything. The Morning Call has the story.
PennLive previews the chances that lawmakers could boost the minimum wage when they return to session next week.

Philadelphia City Council has unanimously approved a measure providing free lawyers to renters facing eviction proceedings, WHYY-FM reports. homes in on the push for a safe injection site in Philadelphia.
The push for a new community college in Erie has hit another roadblock, the PA Post reports. Read a Capital-Star op-Ed from the Pa. Budget & Policy Center about it here for some additional context that you won’t get in any other newsletter.
There are now five Democrats primarying state Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery. PoliticsPA brings you up to speed on Amanda Cappelletti, a township supervisor, who’s the latest entrant to the crowded race.
The impeachment fight has finally hit the U.S. Supreme Court. Roll Call has the details.WolfWatch.
Gov. Tom Wolf 
talks charter school reform with the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators during a 10 a.m. confab in Harrisburg. At 2 p.m, he’s off to Prospect Park, Pa., to watch a kindergarten robotics program.

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition).
State Rep. Greg Rothman, R-Cumberland, holds a 7:30 a.m. breakfast at the West Shore Country Club that costs about what you think it would. Admission runs from a merely preposterous $2,500 to a belief-beggaring $10,000.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s one that popped up quite unexpectedly. It’s the dreamy “Julian” from Swedish pop duo Say Lou Lou.

Friday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
got past Buffalo 5-4 on the road in overtime on Thursday night.  The ‘Canes currently sit fourth in the Metropolitan Division, tied on points with third-place Philadelphia.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.