We usually spend a great deal of time talking about the impact on the Second Amendment made at the federal and state level. But it is important to remember that attacks on our right to keep and bear arms are often made at the local level, and we don’t want these affronts to freedom to slip under anyone’s radar. Statewide preemption statutes that reserve the authority to enact gun-control laws to state legislatures are critical to diminishing these efforts. They help to avoid a patchwork of conflicting laws and regulations throughout a state.
Unfortunately, not every state has a preemption statute, and even with them in place, anti-gun local authorities regularly work to challenge, undermine or circumvent them. Here are a few of the things extremists have tried to do, or actually have done, at the local level to undermine law-abiding gun owners that may not have caught the attention of national news coverage.
Boulder County Adopts Gun Control
In Colorado, the Boulder County Commissioners unanimously voted to pass a gun-control package consisting of five ordinances to infringe on your Second Amendment rights. Commissioner Matt Jones claims these ordinances are “common-sense gun violence laws designed to help keep people safe,” but, apparently, common sense isn’t common. These ordinances are restrictions that attack your constitutional right to bear arms and do nothing to promote public safety.
The gun-control package includes: banning the sale of firearms to anyone under the age of 21; requiring a waiting period of 10 days to sell or purchase a firearm; prohibiting the carrying of firearms in a number of public places; banning the sale of “assault rifles,” “large” magazines, and trigger activators; and regulating the possession of unfinished gun frames and guns without serial numbers, sometimes referred to as “ghost guns.”
The city council forced this gun-control package through at the beginning of July with no opportunity for public comment. The first public hearing was in early August, which is conveniently when the gun-control package went into effect. Cities in Colorado like Boulder have had the authority to pass a patchwork of confusing and conflicting local laws throughout the state since Colorado repealed its firearms preemption statutes last year. By doing this, Colorado became one of the few states to take away the state legislature’s sole authority to regulate firearms, and the various cities’ gun-control regulations have already begun to create inconsistency and uncertainty statewide.
Pima County Passes Resolution Calling for Repeal of State Preemption Statute
In Arizona, the Pima County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution in early August calling for a lawsuit to challenge the state’s preemption statutes, as well as urging the state legislature to repeal them. This resolution falls in line with efforts by both Pima County and Tucson to pass local gun-control ordinances. In 2017, the Arizona State Supreme Court ruled in the State’s favor, causing the City of Tucson to repeal an ordinance that was in violation of the state statute.
The Arizona Legislature enacted the state firearms preemption law in 2000, which has been modified and strengthened over the years, most recently in 2016.
Columbia to Consider More Gun Control
South Carolina’s capital city, Columbia, submitted a draft ordinance to Attorney General Alan Wilson’s office in July, asking if it violates the state’s preemption law. The draft ordinance victimizes gun owners who have suffered the loss or theft of their property if they fail to report a lost or stolen firearm within a certain period of time after discovering it missing. Nearby Virginia passed a similar law in 2020, which has not only been ineffective in hindering criminals, but also has been almost unenforceable, as there have been just three civil penalties in the two years it has been in effect.
Attorney General Wilson has previously stopped Columbia from violating the state’s preemption law, which prevents localities from passing their own gun control. Columbia’s newest effort is just another waste of time and taxpayer resources while doing nothing to hold criminals accountable for their actions, such as stealing firearms, and get them off the streets.
As we went to press for this issue, Attorney General Wilson had not yet responded to Columbia’s request for his opinion.