Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Ohio Appeals Court and Philadelphia-Area Case Underscore the Significance of Statewide Firearm Preemption Laws

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The states of Ohio and Pennsylvania are currently highlighting the challenges that arise when local governments try to impose their own gun control measures that conflict with state laws. Politicians pushing for stricter gun control are causing confusion and legal complications by attempting to enforce local laws that don't align with existing state statutes.

In Ohio, the Tenth District Court of Appeals recently reversed a lower court's ruling that had initially permitted the City of Columbus to implement its own gun control regulations. The appellate court held that Columbus was wrong to interfere with Ohio's uniform firearms laws, which had already been set by the state. Ohio is one of 42 states with "preemption" laws, meaning that the state legislature holds the sole authority to regulate firearms, preventing a confusing mosaic of local laws. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost emphasized that this ruling ensures that all Ohio residents are subject to the same set of rules regarding firearms.

Despite such laws, some advocates for stricter gun control selectively choose when to adhere to them. These advocates frequently call for rigorous enforcement of their own stringent measures while ignoring state laws.

In Oregon, Measure 114 was passed, banning standard capacity magazines and instituting various other regulations. Several county sheriffs have refused to enforce these rules, claiming they infringe upon Second Amendment rights. Legal challenges against the law are currently underway.

In New Mexico, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham had a standoff with local sheriffs over "red flag" laws in 2020, insisting that law enforcement had no choice but to enforce state laws.

The issue of local control versus state preemption is also surfacing in Lower Merion Township, a suburb of Philadelphia. Local authorities have passed a zoning ordinance that threatens the operations of Shot Tec, the area's only federal firearms licensee. While local officials argue that the law is about zoning, not gun control, the owner of Shot Tec contends that it's an impediment to Second Amendment rights.

Pennsylvania also has preemption laws, which were recently upheld when Philadelphia's mayor tried to impose gun bans in public spaces. This sets a precedent against local governments attempting to pass their own gun control laws.

What's often overlooked in these political maneuvers is a focus on addressing criminal behavior. Instead, politicians are aiming their efforts at law-abiding citizens, complicating their ability to purchase firearms legally. This tends to disregard state laws and sidesteps the issue of criminal activity, which poses the actual threat to public safety.

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