The tragic events that unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day have been a wake-up call for many Americans. And many are awakening to the fact that 43 states ban local elected officials from taking local action to prevent gun violence.
We’ve rounded up a few examples of the most serious firearm preemption laws across the country.
States that impose fines against local legislators personally for violating the preemption statute
Arizona, up to $50,000
Florida, up to $5,000
States that make local officials personally liable for damages and/or attorney’s fees for violating the preemption statute
States that expressly authorize the removal of local officials from office for violating the preemption statute
States that make local legislators criminally liable for violating the state’s preemption statute
The most sweeping firearm preemption laws contain onerous, punitive provisions designed to intimidate city officials from even attempting to address gun violence.
- Under Florida’s preemption statute, for example, local officials who adopt any firearm rules or regulations are subject to removal from office and fines up to $5,000; they are also prohibited from using any public funds to defend any local public safety rules.
- Under a Nevada preemption law passed in 2015, a person who succeeds in challenging a local firearm law is entitled to attorney’s fees and costs — and may be eligible to receive a monetary award of up to three times the actual damages proved in court.
- Under a 2014 Pennsylvania law, which was later declared invalid, if a locality was sued over its gun laws, it was required to pay the legal fees and costs of the law’s challenger — even if it repealed the law before the court issued a ruling.
- The invalidated 2014 Pennsylvania law expressly gave groups like the NRA the ability to sue localities. The legislation was a direct response to courts that had concluded the NRA did not have legal “standing” to sue cities.
- The gun-lobby group Second Amendment Foundation has initiated litigation campaigns against cities it claims have violated preemption laws — suing or threatening to sue hundreds of cities in states from Maryland and Virginia to Oregon and Washington.