If you watched today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, you got a peek at the type of anti-gun hysteria that can be weaponized by the gun control lobby if they don’t have to concern themselves about running afoul of state firearms preemption laws. Those laws, which provide a uniform standard of gun laws across a state, prevent localities from adopting their own gun ordinances, which can lead to a patchwork-quilt of local laws that are impossible for gun owners to be aware of and comply with.
That’s not a bug, but a feature for anti-2A activists, who want to make exercising your Second Amendment rights as legally dangerous as possible, and axing preemption laws are a priority for the gun control movement at the moment as they desperately try to stem the rising tide of new gun owners and a wave of pro-2A laws around the country.
Washington State is ground zero for the fight over preemption this year, and the politicians trying to get rid of the state’s existing statute are already lying about the law in a shameless attempt to tilt the electorate’s views on the issue. The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (where, in full disclosure, I serve as an unpaid board member) is blasting Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell for his recent comments on the state’s preemption law, which offered far more fiction than fact.
At his presser, Harrell—a longtime opponent of state preemption, which guarantees uniformity of firearms law from border to border—declared, “You will hear this year me lead efforts on trying to get relief from the exemption RCW 9.41.290. You’ll hear me talking about that. I don’t know how many lives have to be lost before we realize we’re one of the few states that has that kind of restriction allowing the state to govern the laws we need for our city of Seattle.”
“Bruce Harrell needs to reload his brain before shooting his mouth off,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. “Forty-two states have preemption laws, and that is hardly ‘a few’ states, as Harrell would have the public believe. Washington was among the first to adopt this law in 1983, and its statute has been used as a model by other states when they adopted similar statutes because they all saw the common sense of gun law uniformity.
“Harrell and other anti-gunners would have us roll back the calendar to a time when a literal state of confusion existed in Washington,” he continued. “Before preemption was wisely adopted by the State Legislature, we had a checkerboard of often conflicting local gun regulations. State lawmakers properly took control of this mess and cleaned it up with a single set of regulations that apply equally from the Canada border to the Columbia River.
Gottlieb went on to say that Harrell’s off-target claims are “why gun owners don’t trust low-caliber politicians,” adding that Washington State “provided the road map for the majority of other states to bring not only uniformity but integrity to gun laws” but that Harrell wants a return to “what amounts to chaos”.
Chaos may be the result of what Harrell’s demanding, but I don’t think that’s actually his intent. What he and other anti-gun activists really want is control; specifically control over the lives of gun owners and how they exercise their fundamental right to keep and bear arms. They’d much prefer that control come from the federal government, but if they have to “settle” for states or localities imposing their own restrictions in the meantime they’ll take it. And local ordinances do serve a purpose for the gun control lobby, because it’s much more expensive and time-consuming for 2A activists to challenge two dozen local gun control laws than it is to bring suit against one state-level law.
If we’re going to keep our 2A rights intact, then we can’t let them be destroyed one local ordinance at a time. Firearms preemption is worth fighting for, even in states that have become increasingly hostile to our right to keep and bear arms like Washington. The fact that Seattle’s mayor can’t even be honest with the public about the ubiquity (and utility) of these laws says a lot about the weakness of the anti-preemption argument, and I’m guessing Washington State gun owners will have even more to say about the intent of the anti-gun movement as its preemption repeal bill starts moving through the legislature.