gun rights groups

Gun Rights Groups Target Local Rules

by Joe Palazzolo, WSJ  |  published on February 7, 2013

Beginning in the 1980s, states started passing laws that limited the ability of cities and counties to regulate firearms swept the nation.

The effort has paid huge dividends for the gun lobby.

In 1979, seven states had laws that blocked municipalities from regulating guns. That number reached 45 states by 2005, thanks to lobbying efforts by the National Rifle Association, according to Kristin Goss, a Duke University professor and the author of “Disarmed: The Missing Movement for Gun Control in America.”

Still, the gun lobby continues to fight on this front, encouraging states to toughen up these so-called “preemption” laws. Three states — Florida, Kentucky and Virginia — recently overhauled their laws to make it easier to take legal action against municipalities that try to regulate firearms or ammunition.

Now, if a resident were to prevail in a lawsuit challenging a local law, not only would the ordinance be struck down, but the municipality would be liable for the opposing party’s attorneys’ fees.

“It makes these function more like civil rights statutes,” said Michael O’Shea, a professor at Oklahoma City University School of Law, of the preemption statutes.

From the perspective of gun-control advocates, preemption may be among the NRA’s masterstrokes.

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