Mayor Sal Panto, Jr., of Easton, announced on June 22, 2016, that he was going to be introducing a bill that would prohibit openly-carried guns in public buildings and parks in a few weeks. The move comes after Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court threw out a law that would make municipalities vulnerable to lawsuits for regulating guns.
Easton and other cities backed off gun bills when Act 192 of 2014 made them vulnerable to lawsuits and could have forced them to pay the litigants’ legal bills.
But the state Supreme Court found Act 192 unconstitutional on June 20, 2016.
Now that the Pennsylvania law has been declared unconstitutional, Panto is looking to impose stricter control measures in his city.
“You can’t take a gun into a Northampton County Council meeting because it’s in the courthouse and you can’t take it into the capitol building (in Harrisburg) but you can bring a gun into city hall,” the mayor said at a recent city council meeting.
The measure would not apply to police or to those who have a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
“If someone has been vetted for a concealed weapon they have the right and frankly I have no problem, because they have been cleared (to carry the weapon),” Panto said.
Law-abiding gun owners aren’t the problem in Easton, according to Mayor Panto.
Unless they lose their weapons or they are stolen. And only then if they don’t report it.
He said he’d also reintroduce a bill that would require Easton residents to report lost or stolen guns to the police. An earlier version of his lost gun bill was defeated in 2008. The mayor worries too many felons get guns in their hands because they use guns that were “lost” when they can’t legally obtain them.
Often when a crime is committed with a stolen or lost gun, police trace the gun back to the owner of record.
Panto says the rules would benefit legitimate gun owners.
“It’s protects them when that gun is used in a crime,” Panto said of the proposal. “It exonerates them.”
The criminals are the people who end up with the guns, he said.
“People who stole the guns, now they have an illegal weapon,” Panto said. “I’m concerned about guns in the hands of bad people.”
“We have to get off this attitude that any kind of gun control is trying to take away guns from law-abiding citizens,” he said. He went on to say he did not believe his measures would infringe upon the rights of law abiding gun owners.