Prosecutor blocks gun law charges against Pittsburgh mayor, council

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A prosecutor refused to approve criminal charges Friday against Pittsburgh’s mayor and six City Council members over the passage of firearms restrictions that gun rights advocates say are blatant and deliberate violations of state law.

Seven city residents tried to file private criminal complaints against Democratic Mayor Bill Peduto, who signed the legislation into law this week, and council members who voted to approve the bills. The complaints charge the mayor and council with official oppression and other counts.

Pennsylvania law allows citizens to file criminal charges, subject to approval by the district attorney. The office of Democratic Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. refused to accept the residents’ complaints Friday, saying prosecutors would not weigh criminal charges against the mayor and council until the new gun laws begin to take effect in about two months and someone is cited for violating them.

The gun restrictions were passed after a mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue that killed 11 worshippers. Gun rights advocates are suing to get the laws overturned, noting Pennsylvania law forbids municipalities from regulating the ownership or possession of firearms and ammunition. Courts have thrown out previous municipal attempts at regulation.

The Pittsburgh legislation restricts military-style assault weapons like the AR-15 rifle authorities say was used in the synagogue attack. It also bans most uses of armor-piercing ammunition and high-capacity magazines, and allows the temporary seizure of guns from people who are determined to be a danger to themselves or others.

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