Council member Strassburger, Mayor Peduto, and Governor Wolf walk to the ceremony. Courtesy of Tom Wolf/flickr

A series of bills that will make firearms like the one used in the Tree of Life shooting illegal within the city limits was introduced in City Hall early Tuesday.

The package of bills was written by Pittsburgh City Council member Corey O’Connor and co-sponsored by fellow East End City Council member Erika Strassburger.

At a press conference on Friday unveiling the legislation, Mayor William Peduto was joined by Governor Tom Wolf and several gun control activists from Newtown, Connecticut.

If passed, the laws will be some of the most significant pieces of gun control legislation both the city and the state have seen in decades.

“No one in America wants a country where guns make our schools unsafe for children, families afraid in places of worship and where our streets are stained every day with innocent blood,” Mayor Peduto said. “The morality we all share, across every race, gender, ethnicity, region and religion, compels us to take action.”

What’s in the bills?

The council will vote on three pieces of legislation.

One is a bill that would make it unlawful to manufacture, sell or possess an assault weapon within the city limits. The bill’s definition of assault weapons includes the Colt AR-15 automatic rifle used in the Tree of Life shooting, as well as certain kinds of shotguns and handguns modified to have a larger shooting capacity.

Another bill bans bump stocks, armor-piercing bullets and other weapon accessories.

The third bill gives city courts expanded rights to seize the firearms of citizens deemed a threat by their immediate family members or law enforcement.

The laws do not address the sale of traditional handguns, which are responsible for 81% of gun homicides in Pennsylvania.

What comes next?

The National Rifle Association has sued the City of Pittsburgh twice in the past decade over gun control policies much less sweeping than those proposed last Friday.

In Harrisburg, pro-gun lawmakers have passed a series of bills that limit the rights of cities and local governments to enact gun laws stricter than statewide regulations.

If the bills pass the vote in City Council, the city may be looking at several weeks or perhaps months of legal challenges coming from both the NRA and the state legislature.

Mayoral spokesperson Timothy McNulty said a final vote on the legislation was expected in mid-February.

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.