The York City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to send a resolution to the state legislature recommending the adoption of a state law requiring the reporting of lost and stolen guns, ending nearly a year of debate on the controversial subject.

Last November, York City Councilwoman Toni Smith introduced a proposal, backed by the city administration, for a city law that would require lost and stolen firearms to be reported.

Supporters said a law would help crack down on straw purchasers and keep illegal guns off the street. Opponents said it would not be effective and would punish the innocent.

Throughout the debate, some council members said they were concerned about the proposal, since state law prohibits municipalities from making their own gun laws.

On Tuesday, Smith introduced a resolution urging the state to take up the matter. Her proposed law, tabled at an earlier meeting, was left to die at the end of the year.

York City Police Commissioner Mark Whitman said he would have preferred the law, but "we are grateful that at the very least we have a resolution from the city."

Council President Joe Musso was the lone dissenter among the council members. He said no one could tell him exactly how the law would help or what it would do differently than existing laws against straw purchasing.

"I'm not in a position where I'm going to start pursuing the good guys instead of getting the bad guys," he said.

Whitman said the law would help close loopholes in the existing laws but was not a "silver bullet.


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"I can't tell you all illegal guns are going to go away," he said. "I can tell you it will help."

Chris Buckingham, a city resident who spoke to council several times on the matter, said he applauded council for not moving forward with the city law but agreed with Musso.

"We already have laws against straw purchases," he said, adding that the city's time and money could be better spent other ways, such as working with youths.

City resident Franklin Williams urged the council to think about whether or not such a law would work without hurting innocent people.

"I could think of some other things we could do that would probably help more," he said, echoing other speakers who said the city should work with courts to keep offenders in jail.

Councilwoman Genevieve Ray, who had opposed the law, said she supported the resolution because it took the issue where it belonged -- to the state legislature.

Councilman Cameron Texter said he was willing to vote for the resolution to send a message to the legislature and have a discussion about it, but that didn't mean he totally believes a law would be effective.

Smith said during the meeting she was happy with the resolution.

"I just feel that it's a cause worth fighting for," she said.

amason@ydr.com; 771-2048

READ THE RESOLUTION

To read the text of the resolution passed by city council, click here.