The Seattle Times is reporting that former Seattle Mayor Jenny “Summer-of-Love” Durkan is flabbergasted by Thursday’s unanimous state Supreme Court ruling upholding Washington State’s 37-year-old firearms preemption law in a case brought against the City of Edmonds by the Second Amendment Foundation.
Joining SAF in Bass v. City of Edmonds were the National Rifle Association, firearms instructor Brett Bass (for whom the case is named) and two other Edmonds residents, Swan Seaberg and Curtis McCullough.
Durkan told the Times, “The Supreme Court ruling today is a stark reminder that local governments must have the ability to … keep their own businesses and residents safe.”
The former mayor added a hope that Gov. Jay Inslee calls a special session of the legislature to “address the wave of gun violence facing our state.”
But wait one minute. The notion of “localizing” gun control laws just brought an interesting plea from “prominent firearm-control advocates” in Canada to the Liberal government in Ottawa “government to abandon plans to allow provinces to ban handguns, saying regional measures will lead to a disastrous patchwork across Canada.”
The key word here is “patchwork,” which was the situation existing in Washington State four decades ago, prior to the 1985 enactment by state lawmakers of the current preemption statute, which prohibits cities including Edmonds and Seattle from adopting local gun control laws.
Ironically, it is gun prohibitionists north of the border who are preaching uniformity—in this case a total ban on handguns—because they acknowledge “local” (provincial) control of the issue would be “a disaster: politically, legally, and most importantly, in terms of public safety.”
According to CP24 News in Toronto, “In their letter, the groups say there is little evidence to suggest handing responsibility to provinces for prohibiting the sale, import or possession of handguns would have any effect, given that firearms flow from unregulated jurisdictions to regulated ones.
“Conferring power to the provinces to ban handguns,” the letter reportedly predicts, “will result in never-ending debates, legal challenges and the inevitable failure of whatever patchwork of laws are enacted – if any.”
Over the past several decades, U.S. gun prohibitionists first campaigned for a national handgun ban, then took their case to state legislatures because Congress wouldn’t adopt their radical agenda. Nowadays, anti-gunners want to strike down state preemption laws—several of them modeled after Washington’s statute—to allow liberal city governments to create their own gun control regimes.
The 2008 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller was a major blow to the U.S. gun prohibition effort, because it specifically stated that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, and confirmed that protection applies to handguns.
Then came the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicago, which incorporated the Second Amendment to the states via the 14th Amendment, and nullified Chicago’s handgun ban. The fundamental individual right to keep and bear arms as enumerated in the Second Amendment is the law of the land.
Canadian citizens to not enjoy a Second Amendment equivalent in their constitution, ergo the effort to ban handguns. But at least up there, the gun ban crowd is bright enough to understand localizing firearms policy has a downside.
As noted in the opening paragraph of his 13-page ruling, Chief Justice Steven C. González explained, “Under our system of divided government, many elected bodies hold legislative power, including elected city councils. These councils, however, must legislate within constitutional constraints. One of those constraints is that city ordinances must not “conflict with general laws” that have been enacted by the people of our state by initiative or by our state legislature. WASH. CONST. art. XI, § 11. Constitutional general laws that state they explicitly occupy the field, that implicitly occupy the field, or that are otherwise inconsistent with local laws preempt local lawmaking. We are asked today whether a city ordinance that requires that guns be stored safely and kept out of unauthorized hands is preempted by state law. We hold that it is.”
Just as the Second Amendment applies to the entire nation, the state preemption statute brought uniformity to gun laws from border to border, within the guidelines of the state constitution. What the gun prohibition lobby wants is to turn back the clock to when the state had a hodgepodge of local regulations that may have conflicted with one another. It was for that reason the Legislature pioneered preemption, and the idea caught on, resulting in dozens of states adopting similar statutes.