Reacting to Monday’s shooting rampage at a Louisville bank, Mayor Craig Greenberg made a plea Tuesday for local control of firearms, which translates to a call for an end to Kentucky’s long-standing firearms preemption statute.
Big city mayors dislike preemption laws because they’re prevented from adopting their own gun control policies. However, the laws have worked for many years, providing uniformity
According to Fox News, Greenberg asked for two things from “every Kentucky state senator and every Kentucky state representative who wants to join me in reducing the amount of gun violence in Louisville.”
It was then he asked for the city to “be given autonomy to make its own decisions” on firearms regulation.
“If you support local decision-making to address local issues, if you want to help our state’s largest city thrive, please give Louisville the autonomy to deal with our unique gun violence epidemic,” he said, according to Fox.
More than 40 states have firearm preemption statutes, according to an ABC News report in 2021. Only one state in recent history—Colorado—has repealed preemption, while in another state—Washington—this year saw the Legislature once again approached by cities including Seattle to repeal its nearly-40-year-old-statute. But the bill once again did not advance out of committee, at least so far. The Legislature does not adjourn until April 23.
Washington’s law was one of the first preemption statutes, dating back to 1983, and it has served as a model for many other state laws over the past four decades.
Kentucky’s law dates back several years as well, according to a Duke Law essay from September 2021. In the article, it is stated, “Favored by groups such as the National Rifle Association, those laws guard against what supporters claim would otherwise be a confusing patchwork of local gun rules and restrictions that law-abiding gun owners could unwittingly violate just by traveling through a state.
“Opponents say preemptive laws stop local leaders from enacting gun ordinances to meet the specific needs of their communities,” the article adds. “Those laws, they argue, ultimately can lead to fewer children and adults killed or wounded in shootings and less damage done to neighborhoods besieged by gun violence.”
But would any local ordinance have prevented Monday’s attack, which appears to have specifically targeted bank executives and key staffers? Probably not, as other attacks with multiple shooting victims, even in states with very restrictive gun laws such as California and New York, have occurred.
Fox News quoted Greenberg stating, “Let us, the people of Louisville, make our own choices about how we reduce gun violence in our city. Other communities should be able to make the policies that work for them. Let us implement policies that work for us. Please change our state law to let Louisville make its own decisions about reducing the amount of illegal guns on our streets and gun violence that is killing far too many people in mass shootings and individual shootings. In any shootings.”
Preemption laws establish and maintain gun law uniformity from one state border to the other.