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Mayor Peduto Vows To Defend Gun Legislation While Fighting Lawsuits Alleging Overreach

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The city's proposal to regulate guns is bound to bring legal challenges, but it comes at a time when the city's already fighting other legal battles alleging the same kind of overreach.

Mayor Peduto says he'll defend the city's power to regulate guns to the highest court in the land, but the expected battle comes at time when his Law Department is already working overtime fighting a half dozen other lawsuits accusing the city of legislative overreach.

"There are things worth fighting for," Peduto said.

From bills that would make private employers pay mandated sick leave to another requiring landlords pay for their own inspections to another requiring building owners to train security guards to one banning animal prods at the circus, City Council and the mayor have landed city in a number of protracted legal battles.

In each of these cases, the issue is roughly the same -- that the city is trying to legislate on matters that are governed at the state and federal levels. Duquesne University Law professor Joe Mistick says these bills were doomed to fail at the start.

"These kinds of lawsuits are not cheap. [They're] very expensive in terms of time and money, and it's unlikely that you're going to succeed because this has been the law since 1868," he said.


But Peduto believes in a city's right to govern itself, regardless of the cost in manhours to law department and legal fees. having already paid $28,000 to an outside law firm in two of the cases.

"Every movement that has happened in this country -- whether it was workers rights or civil rights or a woman's right to vote -- started at a local level and challenging which federal and state laws are just," Peduto said.

But councilwoman Theresa Kail Smith, who is voting against the gun legislation, says we need to rein in these legal battles.

"Our powers are limited, and as much as we may want to help, as much as we care, that doesn't mean we always can [help] or should," she said.

Over the next year or so and perhaps years to come, city lawyers are going to be busy fighting a half dozen cases trying to prove the city has powers where others say it doesn't.

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