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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In a major legal victory for gun rights organizations, the state Supreme Court has upheld the right of organizations and individuals to sue municipalities that enact gun safety measures.

Pennsylvania has a state preemption law that forbids municipalities from enacting their own gun legislation.

But many communities like Pittsburgh have tried to do so anyway, and that has brought lawsuits from gun rights groups like Firearm Owners Against Crime.

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“I think it’s an outstanding result,” says Kim Stolfer, founder and president of FOAC.

“It’s a dangerous decision that’s going to make Pennsylvania communities less safe,” says Josh Fleitman, western Pennsylvania manager for CeaseFirePA, a gun safety group.

In a 4-to-3 decision on Wednesday, the state Supreme Court ruled that Stolfer, an Allegheny County resident, and FOAC had standing or the right to challenge gun ordinances in the city of Harrisburg for violating the state preemption law without first breaking the law.

“The Supreme Court empowered every citizen in Pennsylvania, not just gun owners, to be able to challenge prior to being prosecuted and put in jail,” Stolfer told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.

The city of Harrisburg requires gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms, prohibits firearms in parks, bans the discharge of firearms in the city, and prohibits minors from possessing a firearm.

Stolfer says these local laws are invalid because of the state’s preemption law. Now he can challenge those ordinances in court.

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“It’s a century-old concept that says you can challenge a law prior to any enforcement action, and the city and the anti-gun groups in Pennsylvania were trying to say that didn’t apply to citizens. We reject that premise, and so did the Supreme Court,” says Stolfer.

“This Supreme Court decision is going to have a chilling effect on the local democratic process by striking fear into local lawmakers about lawsuits from people who don’t live in the state even,” says Fleitman.

Fleitman says this decision may discourage local municipalities from enacting common-sense gun safety measures.

“This Supreme Court decision expands the definition of standing to cover anybody really. You don’t have to violate the law. You don’t have to be impacted by the law. You can sue to undo any law you disagree with.”

“And that’s a really radical departure legally speaking,” says Fleitman.

This state preemption law against local gun ordinances is controversial.

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Last spring, Pittsburgh officials joined Philadelphia in challenging the preemption law, saying municipalities must be free to combat gun violence. That case is still pending in Commonwealth Court.

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Tags: pittsburgh news ceasefirepa gun rights gun safety gun safety laws harrisburg jon delano local tv pennsylvania pennsylvania news pittsburgh news you don’t this supreme court decision don’t the state supreme court gun safety measures the supreme court the supreme court in pennsylvania lawsuits ordinances can challenge to challenge firearms in the city

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Judge cleared to resume investigation into Beirut port blast

BEIRUT (AP) — A Lebanese court Tuesday cleared the way for the judge leading the state’s investigation into last year’s massive explosion at Beirut’s port to resume his work.

The probe was suspended for more than a month following legal challenges from former officials charged in the case.

State-run National News Agency said an appeals court judge in Beirut rejected a case filed by a former Cabinet minister challenging Judge Tarek Bitar. That opened the door for Bitar’s probe to continue.

Lebanon’s investigation into the August 2020 explosion led by Bitar was suspended for the third time in early November because of a deluge of legal challenges filed by defendants.

Several officials have refused to be questioned amid calls by some groups, including the powerful Hezbollah, to have the judge removed, accusing him of bias.

Disagreements over the judge’s work between rival political groups have paralyzed the government, which has not met since Oct. 12. Hezbollah and two allied groups have demanded that Bitar be replaced.

At least 216 people died in the port explosion, caused by the detonation of hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse for years, apparently with the knowledge of senior politicians and security officials who did nothing about it. The explosion also injured 6,000 people and destroyed parts of the city.

More than a year after the government launched a judicial investigation, nearly everything else remains unknown — from who ordered the shipment to why officials ignored repeated warnings of the danger.

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