- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Guns were a hot topic Wednesday in the Pennsylvania Senate, which voted to back a ban on pigeon shoots and for a bill to give groups like the National Rifle Association legal standing to sue municipalities over local gun laws.

Senators favored outlawing pigeon shoots by a 3-1 margin and sent the measure back to the House for consideration.

The shoots, which involve launching the birds from spring-loaded boxes to be shot at close range, were derided by senators who called it inhumane and a throwback to “another age.”

“There is no appropriate way to do a pigeon shoot,” declared Sen. Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, leader of the Democratic minority.

Sen. Mike Brubaker, R-Lancaster, proposed a compromise amendment placing the shoots under the supervision of the Pennsylvania Game Commission but it was rejected by 33-15 vote.

The proposal to allow “membership organizations” to stand in for any Pennsylvania member who is “adversely affected” by local gun-control ordinances was portrayed by proponents as a simple clarification of existing laws. The amendment to a separate bill was approved by a 2-1 margin and sent to the House for additional action.

“We’re not doing anything drastic here, this is just good common sense,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson.

Opponents, particularly senators from the Philadelphia area, which is plagued by gun violence, said the proposal gives special license to the NRA to push its agenda in Pennsylvania courts at the expense of local taxpayers.

“This is a mess!” said Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia.

Wednesday was supposed to have been the last session day before a new Legislature is elected on Nov. 4, but both houses added a day to their calendars. The Senate reconvenes Thursday and the House on Monday.

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