Philadelphia’s Nutter Doctrine

Back in May, I wrote about the Philadelphia city council’s passage of a package of draconian gun laws, despite Philadelphia having no legal authority to pass such laws (Pennsylvania state law preempts local laws regulating firearms).

Basically, they passed laws that were themselves illegal. That is clearly a problem, so the laws were never actually put into effect. This year, however, under the administration of the appropriately named Mayor Nutter, Philly will apparently break the law, enforcing illegal laws.

Mayor Nutter yesterday said he would enforce new city gun-control laws even without state authorization to do so – setting up a possible legal and political showdown between the state and the new mayor.

At the first regular meeting of the new City Council yesterday, Council members Darrell L. Clarke and Donna Reed Miller introduced the same package of gun-control measures that languished last year while the state legislature refused to authorize them.

But these bills have a new wrinkle – they don’t call for state-enabling legislation. The previous bills were conditional on companion state laws in recognition of a 1996 Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling that said cities could not enforce their own gun laws.

But Nutter, Clarke and Miller, frustrated by the repeated failure of gun-control measures in the legislature, now appear ready to do just that.

“If these bills pass and if I sign them, then I expect to enforce them,” Nutter said. “If you believe we can have a safer city by putting these measures in place, I think as good public servants we are compelled to take some type of action in the face of no relief coming from anywhere else.”

If I were a Philadelphia police officer, I would be looking for a new job, because the municipal government would be putting me in the position of having to break the law in order to do my job.

Clarke said only that the new bills are “part of a legal strategy.”

Perhaps Darrell actually meant “part of an illegal strategy,” because that’s what is being proposed here.

If the Philadelphia municipal government goes through with this, then they and every police officer who enforces these illegal laws will themselves be criminals.

I believe Pennsylvania law allows armed self-defense against criminals.

UPDATE: Sebastian (a Pennsylvanian) has more at Snowflakes in Hell

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4 Responses to “Philadelphia’s Nutter Doctrine”

  1. Laughingdog Says:

    Maybe I’m just out in left field on this, but it seems to me that city employees that try to enforce these laws, which violate civil rights, knowing that they are illegal, could go to prison for doing so.

    It’s one thing to enforce illegal laws without knowing they’re illegal. But it’s pretty obvious that city officials know they have no leg to stand on with these laws.

  2. 45superman Says:

    LD, if you’re out in left field, you’re not there alone (but you had better take any balls that come our way–I have a lousy arm)–I see it exactly as you do.

  3. Turk Turon Says:

    Any Philly cop who enforces such a patently-illegal ordinance is probably guilty of abduction, just for starters! And if shots are fired during an arrest … oh, brother!

  4. 45superman Says:

    Exactly, Turk–which is why I find Darrell Clarke’s statement that it’s “part of a legal strategy” especially amusing.

    It sure as hell isn’t part of a wise legal strategy.

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