Philly City Council approves bill to get guns out of dangerous hands, another to give renters lawyer in eviction court

Councilmember Helen Gym poses with advocates in Philadelphia City Council.
Photo credit Pat Loeb/KYW Newsradio
By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia police would be able to seize a gun from someone that has been judged an imminent threat under a bill that passed City Council Thursday. It was one of two major bills passed as Council works to wrap up legislation by the end of its current term.

Councilmember Curtis Jones sponsored the "red flag" bill that creates a judicial process to temporarily remove guns from people identified as an imminent threat because they've made a credible threat to harm themselves or others with the weapon.

"It could be in a school setting, where I got bullied and I say 'I'm coming back to shoot you and I'm going to take the rest of the class.' Well, we should believe them, that they've declared a threat and we should remove those firearms temporarily until they can have a hearing," he said.

Jones says he believes it would stand up to a legal challenge. 

"We have gotten reassurance from the Law Department that we do have legs to stand on so we're going to go with that and if we save one or 100 people with this law in the meantime so be it," he added. 

Council also approved a bill granting a right to free legal counsel, subsidized by the city, for tenants in eviction proceedings to put them on equal footing with landlords who almost always have lawyers. It formalizes a pilot project Council approved two years ago, which sponsor Helen Gym says has been a success. 

"You've kept a roof over a woman's head, you've kept children more stable in school and you've helped landlords get paid," she said. 

Tenants rights advocates turned out in force to see the passage of Gym's bill.

"We have expanded this idea of civil rights, we have expanded our concept of what's just and right," she said. 

Council also got a couple dozen new bills to consider, including eight rezoning bills from soon-to-depart Councilmember Jannie Blackwell.

The current council has just three more sessions.