There are a lot of threats to our Second Amendment rights these days. At the federal level, Joe Biden is in the process of implementing new ATF regulations that would turn home-built and unserialized firearms into prohibited items and threaten to turn millions of gun owners into criminals if they don’t register their AR-style pistols with the federal government. In states like California, the gun control lobby isn’t just trying to ban guns, but is even targeting gun shows. And in Colorado, anti-gun activists have succeeded in overturning the state’s firearm preemption law, setting up the prospect of local gun bans and more.
It’s that last effort that has Cody Wisniewski really worried. The director of the Mountain States Legal Foundation’s Center to Keep and Bear Arms says that activists around the country are looking to replicate Colorado’s repeal, and the results would be devastating to our Second Amendment rights.
With the passage of Senate Bill 21-256, Colorado has become the first state to reverse course after having such a law in place. Colorado abandoned preemption and replaced it with a law whereby “a local government is permitted to enact an ordinance, regulation, or other law governing or prohibiting the sale, purchase, transfer, or possession of a firearm, ammunition, or firearm component or accessory.”
Crucially, “the ordinance, regulation, or law may not be less restrictive than state law.” Localities can make their own choices — but only if those choices are in the direction of more gun control.
The dial only turns one way. But gun control advocates have worked hard to obscure this fact. Advocates of the repeal framed the new law as one focused on enabling “local control” — a point that would be hard to argue with if it were actually true.
Wisniewski is right that getting rid of firearms preemption laws isn’t about enabling local control. It’s about allowing for local gun control. If the town of Rifle, Colorado, for instance, wants to establish a local ordinance allowing for possession of 30-round magazines, they can’t. But if Boulder wants to put a local law on the books limiting magazines to five rounds, that would be allowed.
Natural rights don’t vary from place to place. Since the natural right of self-defense exists everywhere, legal protections of that right should not arbitrarily change because of the simple act of crossing a street into the next town.
Gun-control advocates insist that some areas are especially violent and should be able to set stricter policies. But this is the usual fallacy on their part. Anti-gun activists seek to prevent crime by disarming law-abiding individuals rather than enabling those individuals to defend themselves against criminals (who are more than willing to breach local gun laws in the process of committing far worse acts).
Some cities and towns are, indeed, more violent than others — and in those places, peaceable citizens are in even greater need of armed self-protection. To leave them at the mercy of criminals is deeply immoral and detestable.
Getting rid of firearms preemption laws has nothing to do with reversing a rise in violent crime. It’s simply about putting new gun control laws on the books. In Colorado, crime has steadily increased since the state instituted universal background checks and a ban on “large capacity” magazines back in 2013, but there’s been no attempt by the Democrats in control of the state legislature to revisit or repeal their gun control laws even though they clearly haven’t had an impact on criminals. Rather than looking for way to target violent criminals, the state legislature decided to make it easier to go after legal gun owners by allowing communities across the state to impose their own local restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms.
And yes, the gun control lobby is looking to replicate their success in Colorado by scrapping firearm preemption laws wherever they can. Don’t be surprised if lawmakers in blue states like Washington, Oregon, Maryland, and New Mexico follow Colorado’s lead in the months ahead and introduce their own bills to repeal or weaken firearms preemption laws. In Democrat-controlled statehouses from coast-to-coast, one of the biggest fights we face in the 2022 legislative session will likely be the battle over empowering localities to impose their own ordinances that criminalize our constitutional rights.