April 10 (UPI) -- Pittsburgh passed new gun-control ordinances Tuesday that ban the use of semi-automatic weapons in public and allow courts to seize weapons from individuals showing "red flag" signs of extreme risk.
The laws, which were immediately challenged by pro-gun groups, come six months after the Tree of Life synagogue massacre that killed 11 people and injured seven in Pittsburgh. A survivor who was there when the gunman opened fire with his AR-15 rifle gathered with the Pittsburgh City Council as they signed the bills, the Post-Gazette newspaper reported. Violators would have to pay a civil penalty up to $1,000.
Mayor Bill Peduto said his city was taking matters into its own hands after similar efforts for gun-control legislation failed at the state and federal levels.
"We have tried to get that change through Harrisburg, we have tried to get that change through Washington, and we have taken steps backward, not forward," Peduto said. "So what we're saying is in communities across this state ... in cities around this country, we will take action."
But the bills elicited a lawsuit from the National Rifle Association, which is challenging the city's definition of large-capacity magazine. The new laws consider any clip that carries more than 10 rounds as "large capacity." The lawsuit argues that magazines that accept more than 10 rounds are popular not just for rifles but also for handguns.
The four plaintiffs said because of Pittsburgh's new law, they "will be forced to alter their behavior and to incur additional expense." They name the mayor and city council in the suit.
The lawsuit reads, "[b]y banning the public possession and transportation of loaded standard-capacity firearm magazines that can carry more than 10 rounds of ammunition, Pittsburgh has violated the rights of its citizens and exceeded its authority under Pennsylvania law."
The laws cleared the council by a 6-3 margin. The NRA cited statements from the three dissenting council members in its lawsuit.
Pro-gun advocates waited outside the mayor's office, as they were not allowed inside.
One advocate, local doctor Val Finnell, said Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala warned the council that the proposals violated state law and could generate legal challenges. Finnell said six more lawsuits will be filed Friday.
Council members who supported the bill said Zappala didn't' contact them.