DA says 'nope' to local gun laws

District Attorney Lynne Abraham told City Council today that the local gun control legislation signed into law last week by Mayor Nutter is unconstitutional.

Asked during a budget hearing if she would prosecute people arrested under the laws, Abraham said, “nope!”

Abraham said after the hearing that state law does not permit Philadelphia to enact local gun laws.

“Until or unless the Supreme Court tells me otherwise, I’m obligated to follow the law the Supreme Court has enunciated,” Abraham said.

The state Supreme Court in a 1996 ruling declared that only the General Assembly has the power to regulate guns, tossing out the city's last effort at gun control.

But Nutter last week signed a package of five gun bills passed unanimously by City Council. The laws limit handgun purchases to one a month, make it a crime not to report lost or stolen guns in 48 hours, allow police to confiscate guns from people considered a danger to themselves or others and ban semiautomatic weapons with clips that hold more than 10 rounds.

Nutter said he planned to start enforcing the laws immediately, except for the one-gun-a-month bill, which will take six months.

Abraham was skeptical about the enforcement plans.

“If there are wholesale arrests which turn out to be illegal, this city is going to get the pants sued off them,” Abraham said.

Nutter wants to sit down with Abraham to discuss the laws, which he says are legitimate. She says she's happy to talk.