The crowd at The Trace is at it again. This time, they’re whining about firearm preemption laws in Virginia. You see, the City of Richmond has banned numerous things from protests that can be used as weapons, things like bats, shields, and knives. Yet they’re barred from blocking firearms due to the state’s preemption law.
For those who are unfamiliar, preemption laws mean that all firearm laws must come from the state’s legislative bodies. Individual communities can’t enact their own laws or regulations regarding guns.
And for The Trace, that’s a problem.
Richmond is bracing for possible clashes as a small pro-Confederate group descends on the Virginia capital for a rally this weekend. The event comes a month after a demonstration in Charlottesville descended into deadly violence. In preparation, the city has banned bats, shields, knives, and poles from the gathering — but not guns.
The reason is the same as why armed militia members and protesters were allowed to patrol the streets of Charlottesville: Virginia is one of 36 states that allows guns at protests, and also prevents municipalities from enacting their own gun-related restrictions.
On Tuesday, Virginia convened policymakers and legal experts to look for a way to get around the laws, but that effort came up short. Richmond officials have concluded that they can not legally ban firearms from public demonstrations.
Of course, The Trace ignores the reason that preemption laws exist in the first place.
While it’s simple to look at a moment like this and argue that all Richmond wants to do is keep its community safe–ignoring that there are legitimate reasons why someone might need a firearm at a political protest–you can’t look at laws simply by what they prevent you from doing in one single instance where it may arguably do some good (hint: It won’t).
Instead, you have to look at what cities do throughout this nation in states without preemption laws.
I living in a state with a preemption law. Imagine that I, a lawful and law-abiding gun owners, conducted business throughout my state on a regular basis, and due to the nature of that business, felt the need to carry a firearm. Without preemption laws, I would have to become familiar with the gun laws of any city I decided to enter, assuming there were any, then tiptoe around each regulation as needed. I might also find myself needing a special permit to carry in that city that wouldn’t do me any good beyond the city limits.
Preemption laws make firearm laws universal throughout a state. It makes it easier for people to know what is acceptable and what isn’t. It helps a person from Atlanta know that the pistol they get a glimpse of when the man in front grabs his wallet isn’t necessarily illegal because it wouldn’t necessarily be illegal in their home.
It creates a uniformity in the law that makes the legalities far, far easier to navigate.
So yes, it may keep the City of Richmond from being able to keep guns from a protest. Even if you agree that would be a good thing, it shouldn’t be too difficult to see that removing preemption would create many more problems than it would solve. It would create criminals out of people who simply followed what was legal everywhere else in the state except for those few square miles of dirt.
If you can’t see the problem with that, why should we listen to anything else you have to utter?