Skip Navigation

City of Philadelphia Smacked Down in Federal Court

October 13. 2021


(Philadelphia, PA) — Last week, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania issued a smack down to the City of Philadelphia, which in June had frivolously removed, to federal court, the Gun Owners of America’s (GOA) lawsuit challenging the City’s ban on 80% receivers.

“We are happy that GOA’s case against the City of Philadelphia will now be able to proceed in state court, where it belongs,” said Erich Pratt, GOA’s Senior Vice President. “Pennsylvania state law and legal precedent are clear on protecting Second Amendment rights and homemade firearms, and we anticipate another favorable outcome for law-abiding gun owners at the state level.”

In January, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed an ordinance banning the manufacture of 80% and 3D printed firearms, and criminalizing purchase, sale, or transfer of such unfinished frames or receivers. There’s just one problem — Pennsylvania state law explicitly preempts localities from regulating “the lawful ownership, possession, transfer or transportation of firearms.”

In May, GOA and Gun Owners Foundation (GOF), together with several Philly residents, brought suit in state court challenging the City’s ordinance, alleging violations of both the state’s preemption statute and the Pennsylvania constitutional right to keep and bear arms. However, rather than defend its ordinance, Philadelphia sneakily removed GOA’s case to federal court, in an obvious delay tactic to avoid having state courts decide the case.

As GOA’s Pennsylvania Director, Val Finnell noted, “over the years, Philadelphia has tried numerous times to infringe the right to keep and bear arms, but its actions have been repeatedly struck down by Pennsylvania courts. This time, Philly unsuccessfully tried to enlist the federal courts, in the hopes of avoiding a similar fate.”

In response to Philly’s removal action, GOA swiftly filed a motion to remand, explaining the baseless nature of the City’s removal: “Philadelphia seeks to avoid having a state court rule on what are quintessentially state constitutional and statutory issues. This Court should reject Philadelphia’s naked attempts to derail Plaintiffs’ ability to have their day in court.”

Last week, the federal judge assigned to the case agreed with GOA, “conclud[ing] that there is no federal question presented in the complaint nor any other basis for exercising federal jurisdiction.” The case will now proceed in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.

GOA Pennsylvania Director Val Finnell, or another GOA/GOF spokesperson, is available for interviews. Gun Owners of America, and its sister organization Gun Owners Foundation, are nonprofits dedicated to protecting the right to keep and bear arms without compromise. For more information, visit GOA’s Press Center.