Preemption laws have become the target of anti-gun politicians, gun control organizations and their cheerleaders in the media. Local pols who want to impose their own special brand of civilian disarmament in the cities they control are frustrated that they’ve been thwarted by their states’ preemption laws, which prevent a patchwork of regulations that would make compliance a nightmare for lawful gun owners.
Preemption is currently in place in 43 states. Two prominent examples where state preemption laws have come under attack are Florida and Pennsylvania.
In the former Gunshine State, a push was made following the Parkland shooting to invalidate preemption via the courts.
A lawsuit was filed by gun-grabbing city officials to effectively invalidate preemption. They’re challenging the constitutionality of the legal penalties imposed on them should they violate the law. The case is currently winding its way through the courts.
As sun-sentinel.com reports . . .
Florida since 1987 has barred cities and counties from passing regulations that are stricter than state firearms laws. But in 2011, lawmakers went further by approving a series of penalties that local governments and officials can face if they violate the prohibition.
Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson did not immediately rule on the constitutionality of the law, giving attorneys until 5 p.m. Thursday to file written proposed orders. The challenge by 33 cities and counties has drawn briefs from gun-control groups and the National Rifle Association, which is supporting the state’s defense of the penalties.
In a motion for summary judgment filed in February, attorneys for the cities and counties contended that the penalties are unconstitutional in a number of ways, including violating separation of powers and free-speech rights. The case focuses mostly on the penalties, though it also raises arguments about vagueness of the underlying law that bars cities and counties from passing gun regulations — what is known as a “preemption” law.
In the Keystone state, the effort to invalidate preemption started after the Tree of Life synagogue shooting. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has openly flouted Pennsylvania’s preemption restrictions, signing a series of gun control measures into law that are in direct violation of the state statute.
According to the Pittsburgh City Paper . . .
“If Washington and Harrisburg refuse to recognize this is a public health emergency, and refuse to stand up to gun manufacturers, then we must take action to challenge laws and protect our people,” said Peduto in a press release.
Peduto’s signature led to a swift attack from his critics on Twitter and a lawsuit from the National Rifle Association. But the strongest criticism came from state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Cranberry).
Metcalfe shared on social media that he was drafting legislation to have Peduto impeached as a result of his “illegal gun ordinances.”
Now, in an escalation of the anti-preemption push, the front in the fight for more local gun control has moved to the federal level. Missouri Rep. William Lacy Clay, who inherited his 1st congressional district seat from his father, is trying to use the cudgel of withholding federal funds in order to pressure states to repeal their preemption laws.
Clay’s bill would cut off Department of Justice public safety grants to any state that has the restrictions in place.
Here’s the Associated Press’s report on Clay’s bill . . .
By Jim Salter
Democratic U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay is introducing a bill aimed at reducing gun violence in urban areas like his hometown of St. Louis, but it faces a difficult path to becoming law with a Republican-led Senate and White House.
Clay said Friday that he is confident that his bill, the Local Public Health and Safety Protection Act, can pass Congress. It likely would face strong opposition from largely conservative state legislatures such as Missouri’s, as well as gun rights advocates. Messages seeking comment from Republican Gov. Mike Parson and from the NRA were not immediately returned.
The measure, co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Illinois, would require any state receiving U.S. Department of Justice public safety grants to allow cities to enact their own gun laws. Missouri is currently among 43 states that prohibit cities from having gun laws stricter than their states, Clay said.
The measure is among many changes needed to address the epidemic of gun violence in cities, Clay said.
“In St. Louis and across the nation, we are faced with an ugly, obscene inescapable truth: Gun violence is a public health emergency,” Clay said. “I’m tired of the violence, I’m tired of the excuses, and I’m tired of our state legislature being either unable or too frightened to do something about gun violence because they’re being held hostage by the NRA (National Rifle Association).”
Democratic St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, anti-violence activists and top health care leaders stood alongside Clay at a news conference at St. Louis Children’s Hospital to show support for the proposal.
St. Louis Children’s Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alexis Elward said the facility’s trauma center has treated more than 40 children this year who were critically injured or died from gunshot wounds. Five children have died in shootings in St. Louis this month alone.
Elward said even children who survive the bullets often suffer life-changing harm.
“I’m also a mom,” Elward said. “I am concerned about our community.”
St. Louis typically has one of the highest murder rates in the nation, and June has been a particularly deadly month with 19 homicides so far. For the year, 89 people have been murdered in the city of just over 300,000.
Eighty of the 89 victims were black. St. Louis Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards said most of the shooters also were black.
“The state legislative bodies have decided that is not important,” Edwards said.
Clay said the bill would allow cities to enact laws such as those requiring background checks, restricting the quantity and type of ammunition, and prohibiting the sale of assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines.
Krewson grew up in the small town of Moberly, Missouri. She said urban areas like St. Louis face challenges “that are separate and distinct from other parts of the state.”
“We need this in the city of St. Louis,” Krewson said.