The next battleground for gun rights will likely be fought at the local level, and it’s going to be a tough fight.
Since the Gun Control lobby can’t seem to pass any gun control through Congress, they’ve taken two different but distinct pathways. The first is the Biden administration ruling by executive fiat and using the DOJ & ATF to push "regulations" that affect gun owners using existing laws on the books.
The second is something we have mentioned before, but now we are starting to see a pattern from anti-gun groups. There’s a heightened push for gun control at the local level, specifically about State Preemption.
Giffords, one of the largest anti-gun organizations, has been making a serious push for states to overturn their preemption statutes concerning gun laws. In 2021 they scored a significant victory when the Colorado General Assembly repealed the majority of its firearms preemption statute, making them the first state in the country to do so. According to Allison Alderman, senior counsel at Giffords, other states are looking to follow in Colorado’s footsteps.
Let’s back up a second and get everyone caught up. If you’re unaware of what State Preemption is, it’s a law that says that no law at the local level can supersede state law. Forty-two states have preemption laws that specifically relate to firearms. Look no further than Montgomery County, Maryland, for an example of why state preemption laws are essential.
Montgomery County is constantly trying to make their own gun laws, with at one point making it illegal to have ammunition shipped to anywhere in the county. Because Maryland has State Preemption, Maryland Courts overturned this law. Even still, to this day, Montgomery County continues to attempt to pass its own gun control laws, with its most recent being a de facto ban on firearms throughout the entire county, which is currently being litigated.
Steph from TMGN Breaks Down State Preemption Laws and How They Affect You:
State Preemption laws are a huge reason that many anti-gun jurisdictions in pro-gun states have consistent laws. Many may not remember, but in 1981, a suburb of Chicago, Morton Grove, passed a ban on handguns. They were able to do so because, at the time, there were no state preemption laws related to firearms. If you lived in Morton Grove, you could not possess a handgun. This ban on weapons was considered legal for 27 years until the Supreme Court decided District of Colombia v. Heller, affirming the 2nd Amendment as an individual right.
Now we’re seeing a revisit of this 80s era Morton Grove mentality. In the aftermath of Colorado repealing its state preemption statute, Boulder, Colorado, is considering reviving its Assault Weapon Ban. The proposed ban would make possession of any rifle with a pistol grip or any pistol loaded outside the pistol grip illegal and punishable by a $1000 fine and 90 days in jail.
This same ban (which officials from Boulder have previously admitted would be hard to enforce) was deemed invalid by Boulder District Court in 2021, 10 days before a mass shooting in Boulder, CO. This event led to the overturning of the state’s preemption statute.
Gun owners know that firearms bans do not work. Many studies have been done by non-biased parties that show how gun bans are ineffective. In their own study, even the DOJ admitted that there’s no evidence to support that an "assault weapons ban" had any effect on gun violence whatsoever.
Regardless of the evidence and data, the Boulder, CO city council seems determined to pass this ban into law, with Councilmember Mark Wallach saying, "This is not very controversial to me, let’s get this done." About the proposed ban.
This is precisely why Giffords will be pushing to overturn State Preemption laws across the country. The reality of the situation is that since gun control groups cannot get legislation passed at the federal level, they’ve resorted to where it’s relatively easy to get laws passed: Local government.
The overturning of state preemption laws sets a dangerous precedent for gun owners. It’s impossible for individuals to know the laws of every county or city. If you were to have a concealed carry permit in your home county but then enter another county that has made carrying a firearm illegal, you’d be committing a crime unknowingly. State preemption goes a long way to ensuring that States don’t become a balkanized patchwork of conflicting gun laws.
If gun owners don’t oppose the overturn of State Preemption laws, we may see a return to the time of Morton Grove. Remember that Morton Grove’s ban on handguns lasted from 1981 to 2008, 27 years. It was only overturned when the Supreme Court decided on Heller. Even though a few cases regarding so-called "assault weapon" bans are up for the Supreme Court’s consideration, this route of gun control seems to be compelling enough for Allison Anderman of Giffords to say, "It’s a really big deal."
The decentralized nature of this attack on our 2A rights will be a tough challenge, but this is exactly why it’s essential for gun owners to make their voices heard and participate in local politics.