By: Teresa Mull

Pittsburgh has become “ground zero for gun control” since the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting, to the point that lawmakers are breaching their elected oaths of office, says gun rights activist and retired Air Force Colonel, Val Finnell.

“Our Mayor, Bill Peduto (D), has decided he’s going to be the poster boy for gun control,” Finnell told Gunpowder Magazine. “The Pittsburgh City Council has introduced three illegal proposals, and Pennsylvania has a preemption law; these proposals would violate the preemption law.

“The preemption law has been tried and tested, and they know they’re going against state law, and they’ve gone on record saying they don’t care – that they’re going to go ahead and defy the law,” Finnell continued. “I was a public official. I’m a retired Air Force Colonel, and I was responsible for making sure that everything I did followed regulations. I would not dream of going against the regulations that I was expected to uphold. Any public official who says they can violate the law with impunity is completely outrageous.”

GPM reported in December 2018 that Peduto’s trio of proposals included (from the NRA): "a total ban on commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms, a total ban on several types of common firearms accessories and standard capacity magazines, and the development of a procedure to confiscate an individual’s firearms without due process of law."

Pennsylvanians Push Back
Finnell says Peduto has teamed-up with Pennsylvania’s rabidly anti-gun Gov. Tom Wolf to expand gun control statewide.

But Pittsburgh residents are pushing back.

“My argument and the argument of the people here is the city has no authority under the state constitution and under state law, and it’s actually criminal for them to pass gun control legislation,” Finnell said. “Some citizens came forward and filed private criminal complaints upon the introduction of these proposals in January. There are two city residents, at least two, who will be filing private criminal complaints with the municipal court in Pittsburgh if and when the proposals pass, because they would violate Title 18 of the Pennsylvania State Code. There is also a lawsuit ready to be filed by Firearms Owners and Against Crime and Allegheny County Sportsmen’s League should the proposals pass.”

’We Have to Stay Vigilant’
Pennsylvania, outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, is largely rural, with a strong hunting and outdoor culture. Pennsylvania residents elected Trump during the 2016 presidential election.

Nevertheless, Finnell says nothing can be assumed.

“We need to be on guard,” Finnell said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a Republican-controlled legislature or a Democratic-controlled one, we have to be vigilant. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance. People might say because we have a Republican legislature, gun control is not going to go through. I wouldn’t be too sure about that. We are going to be fighting this aggressively.

“Whether you have a Republican representative or a Democrat representative, our expectation is that you follow the Constitution and you do not violate our Constitutional rights to keep and bear arms,” Finnell went on. “I think it’ll be an uphill battle for them, I really do, but they’re using Peduto as leverage so they can get these proposals into the state legislature – it’s a springboard for them.”

Finnell advises gun owners in Pennsylvania get connected with groups such as Firearms Owners Against Crime and Gun Owners of America, and to write their state legislators.

“Let them know you do not consider any gun control to be acceptable,” Finnell said. “That’s the only way it’s going to be defeated. It’s going to have to come from the people writing their elected representatives.”

Teresa Mull is editor of Gunpowder Magazine. Contact her at [email protected].