It’s called state preemption, and anti-gun mayors, city councils and political police chiefs despise it nearly as much as the nation’s gun prohibition lobbying groups.
Everytown for Gun Safety dislikes these laws so much that they devote an entire page on their website to bashing the concept. Bloomington, Indiana Mayor John Hamilton railed against his state’s preemption law in a July 21 Op-Ed for the New York Times. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s attempt to skirt Washington’s 33-year-old preemption law by signing a “gun violence tax” into law last year is currently being challenged in court.
Anti-gun municipal officials hate these laws because they prevent local governments from adopting often-conflicting ordinances that regulate firearms to the point that they confuse armed citizens to the point of discouraging the exercise of their right to bear arms.
Here’s how the Libertarian Republic describes a scenario in which such laws don’t exist:
Proponents of the law argue that without this protection, gun owners would struggle to possess and transport firearms legally within state lines because they would be forced to comply with a patchwork of local laws and regulations. Gun owners and concealed carriers could easily become entangled in a legal nightmare when traveling through individual towns or counties with much tighter restrictions than neighboring areas.”
It was because that sort of scenario once existed that more than 40 states have now adopted preemption statutes. This keeps gun laws uniform from state border to state border. For example, in Washington, what is legal in Seattle is also legal in Spokane. An armed citizen in Pacific County on the coast faces the same regulations as an armed citizen in Pend Oreille County, in the state’s northeast corner butting up against the Idaho Panhandle.
But Mayor Hamilton and his contemporaries don’t like that. Hamilton used his New York Times diatribe to rip into Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, asserting that Pence “has long fought against any reasonable restrictions on guns.”
“His extreme views on this, and other issues, are apparently one reason Donald J. Trump chose him as his running mate,” Hamilton declared. “The nation as a whole will now get a better look at the kind of attitude on gun laws that has earned Governor Pence an A rating from the National Rifle Association — and has made it harder for me to do what my constituents want when it comes to making them safe.”
Would it surprise anyone to learn that Hamilton is a self-described “life-long Democrat and progressive activist?” That description comes from his campaign website.
And what, in Hamilton’s mind, do his constituents expect from him as their mayor?
“The people of Bloomington expect their mayor to protect them against violence,” he said in his July 21 commentary.
In most places south of the Ohio River and west of the Mississippi, people expect their mayors to administer municipal affairs while not meddling with their individual right to protect themselves and their families against violence. The concept of government as a nanny seems to be common among progressive activists. Those who believe in and practice self-reliance think otherwise.
Watch for challenges to preemption laws to become commonplace if Seattle is allowed to skirt the Washington statute. If legislatures won’t erode their laws, it’s possible that big money citizen initiatives will be launched in states with the initiative process in place, supported by anti-gun billionaires like Michael Bloomberg.