Oxford Borough repeals gun ordinance to avoid possible legal challenges
● By Steven Hoffman
Oxford Borough has repealed a gun ordinance after officials decided that having the regulations on the books left the borough vulnerable to possible legal challenges.
With a new state law set to become effective on Jan. 7, Oxford Borough Council voted 5-2 in favor of repealing its own ordinance because it could be legally challenged as being more strict than the state law allows.
Borough council had initially adopted the ordinance in October of 2009. The ordinance contains the regulations that restrict the discharging of firearms in the borough, as well as provisions that require residents to report lost or stolen firearms within 72 hours. At the time the ordinance was passed, borough officials approved the rules as a common-sense attempt at tracking firearms that are lost or stolen and could end up in the hands of criminals.
However, the Pennsylvania General Assembly last year approved House Bill 80, which limits a municipality's authority when it comes to firearms regulations. The legislation gives third-party entities—one example is the National Rifle Association—the right to sue municipalities that are attempting to regulate gun ownership. If a municipality faces such a legal challenge, the municipality could end up having to pay the challenger's legal fees as well as its own.
Without an ordinance on the books, the state's laws and regulations against discharging firearms are all still in effect. After seeking a legal opinion, Oxford Borough officials thought it would be wise to repeal the ordinance before a legal challenge could be filed. Other municipalities across the state are doing the same thing because the expectation is that challenges will be filed soon after the new law becomes effective.