FILE PHOTO: People gathered outside the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill to hold a vigil a week after a deadly shooting there
By Gabriella Borter
(Reuters) - The Pittsburgh City Council began considering a package of gun-control laws on Tuesday, including a ban on assault-style rifles, nearly two months after a gunman shouting anti-Semitic messages killed 11 people in a synagogue.
The measure would also ban certain types of ammunition and allow courts to ban gun ownership by people deemed to pose a significant threat of violence.
Seven of nine council members agreed to co-sponsor the legislation at Tuesday's meeting.
"As gun violence escalates across the country, it would be unconscionable for me to stand by and do nothing," Councilman Corey O'Connor, one of the legislation's authors, said in a statement. O'Connor represents Squirrel Hill, the neighborhood where the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue took place.
Assault-style weapons, with the capacity to fire multiple rounds in a short period of time, have played a significant role in the series of deadly mass shootings the United States has experienced in recent years.
A vote on the legislation is expected to held in February.
Gun-rights advocates opposed the measures and threatened legal action if they passed.
The Allegheny County Sportsmen's League and Firearm Owners Against Crime noted that a state law forbids local governments from enacting stricter gun laws than those in place statewide. The groups also said the proposal would violate the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Robert Bowers, 46, is accused of shooting and killing 11 worshippers at Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Synagogue on Oct. 27, using a legally purchased assault-style rifle and three handguns. He has pleaded not guilty.
(Reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York; editing by Scott Malone, David Gregorio and James Dalgleish)