Judge's comment on preemption misguided at best

Judge's comment on preemption misguided at best
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Preemption is the idea that gun control laws in a given state can only come from the state legislature. Local governments cannot infringe on the gun rights of its citizens without the state’s blessing in the form of legislation permitting such regulations.


These laws create a uniform code across the state, one where someone from one part of the state is unlikely to run afoul of gun control regulations in another part simply due to ignorance. That is ultimately a good thing.

Pennsylvania is a preemption state, and its two major cities routinely try to press their luck in regard to this rule. They also keep getting slapped down.

In a recent piece about how GOA keeps winning against these local governments, one judge is quoted saying something that I have a huge issue with.

The judge who issued the decision seemed to do so begrudgingly. In his opinion, Judge Joshua Roberts wrote he was “duty-bound to uphold the law” — referencing Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act, which says Pennsylvania municipalities can’t enact their own gun regulations.

Roberts strongly suggested the state Supreme Court should revisit that law. He quoted another Pennsylvania judge, Bonnie Brigance Leadbetter, who wrote earlier this year that “the overwhelming blight of gun violence occurring in the city of Philadelphia … call[s] for a recognition that local conditions may well justify more severe restrictions than are necessary statewide.”


No, the “blight of gun violence occurring in the city of Philadelphia” calls for no such thing.

Such a comment doesn’t come from a place of reasoning and reality, but one of emotion and ignorance.

Both Judge Roberts and Leadbetter fail to grasp that lawful gun ownership is not now nor has ever been the issue in Philadelphia. Neither has the lawful carry of firearms.

What’s transpiring in Philly is little different than what we see anywhere else, including major cities with far more extensive gun control schemes and no preemption blocking still more. What we see are criminals going around any and all laws in order to obtain firearms and using them whenever they so desire without regard for anything.

The issue there isn’t that preemption stops Philadelphia from passing gun control, it’s that Philadelphia is unwilling to look for any solution other than measures they cannot lawfully implement.

But that’s true across the board. Many so-called anti-gun violence activists are solely focused on gun control as an answer. They have no idea of any other potential measure that could be implemented that might help. We actually know for a fact that there are programs that do.


That’s not gun control, though, and when it comes to so-called gun violence, those who claim to oppose it are myopic with regard to potential solutions.

And then we come back to preemption, a law that won’t let them implement those supposed solutions.

The judges here are just as myopic, though. It’s not their place to look at potential policy outcomes. It’s their place simply to rule on the issues before them. They have a right to speak their minds, like any other citizens, but their lofty position doesn’t make them better informed.

As we can clearly see.

Preemption needs to stay on the books in Pennsylvania because lawful gun ownership isn’t the issue. It never has been and never will be.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member