State-level preemption is a favorite tool of the right-wing

Just ask the NRA.

The passage of the homophobic law in Tennessee is deeply offensive — and it’s setting a dangerous precedent for local LGBT equality laws.

For several years back in the 90s, I worked as the Director of State Legislation at an organization called Handgun Control. (It’s now the Brady Campaign.) Support for gun control laws was always strongest in cities and suburbans areas. A lot of state legislatures were dominated by rural types. Back in the late 80s, to counter a growing number of local gun control ordinances, the NRA crafted a preemption strategy. And, it worked for them. From the NRA website (and I can’t believe I’m even linking to it, but I couldn’t find anything on the Brady website about the issue, which says a lot about the state of that movement):

To prevent the problems associated with restrictive local ordinances, 46 states have enacted “firearm preemption laws”–laws that prevent local jurisdictions from imposing ordinances more restrictive than laws passed by the state legislature and, in some cases, rescind local ordinances to ensure uniform firearm laws statewide.

The NRA works with gun owners and lawmakers to enact preemption laws in the few states that still permit local ordinances more restrictive than state law. To ensure uniform firearm laws throughout your state and to guarantee equal rights for all, support statewide firearms preemption.

See, they just wanted to have uniform laws. Just like businesses in Tennessee, Nissan, FedEx, AT&T;, Comcast, DuPont, Pfizer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caterpillar, KPMG, Whirlpool, Embraer, Alcoa, and United HealthCare, claim they just want “consistent” laws across the state. That’s how it started with the gun laws, too. The NRA also preempted city lawsuits aimed at the gun industry in many states, too.

The homophobes know that the trendline for equality is moving in our direction. They’re concentrating their resources where they have power — and there are lots of homophobes in state legislatures around the country. And, in Tennessee at least, they were able to hoodwink businesses into supporting their anti-gay agenda.

That’s why we need to speak out and prevent any business leaders from joining on to these hate-based efforts.

And, don’t forget, the right-wingers are all in cahoots with each other. David Keene, who ran the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), is now the President of the NRA.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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