...The issue here is state pre-emption, and it's as relevant in Michigan, as it is in Arizona. Once a local municipality, a school district or even a library gains an exemption, the door is open to further and accelerating deterioration of your Second Amendment rights.

The article below makes that example.

City Gun Laws Hit Roadblock
After NRA Push, Many States Can Pre-empt Local Rules; Tucson Takes On Arizona


Zuma Press Residents of Tucson, Ariz., which has tried to tighten its gun laws since a 2011 shooting, wait to turn in firearms at a gun buyback event this year.

TUCSON, Ariz.—This city, the site of the 2011 mass shooting that nearly killed former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and sparked a national debate on gun control, is proving how tough it can be for localities to enact new firearms restrictions.

The Tucson City Council advanced a measure on Tuesday that would require background checks on the sale of all guns on city property, an attempt to regulate firearms sales at gun shows held at the Tucson Convention Center. But supporters predict gun-rights advocates will sue to invalidate the measure under Arizona state law.

The vote marks the latest chapter in a tussle between the City Council and state lawmakers over gun laws. City officials have moved several times to tighten local restrictions on the sale and possession of firearms, only to see state officials exercise their sweeping authority over gun laws to invalidate the efforts.

The National Rifle Association began lobbying statehouses decades ago to adopt so-called pre-emption laws that limit the ability of cities and counties to regulate firearms.

In 1979, seven states had laws that either fully or partially blocked municipalities from regulating guns; that number had reached 45 states by 2005, according to Kristin Goss, a Duke University professor and the author of "Disarmed: The Missing Movement for Gun Control in America."

Now, gun-rights advocates are aggressively using those laws to roll back gun restrictions or prevent gun-control groups from passing local laws.

Some city and county leaders have responded with lawsuits, arguing that statewide gun laws don't address the specific needs of urban or suburban areas. The gun lobby says firearm laws should be uniform within each state.

The shootings late last year in Newtown, Conn., have sparked a new debate on guns in Washington, D.C., with calls for broader federal regulation on firearms. But gun regulations are generally being relaxed in the states, which have broad latitude to legislate as they see fit, a power that includes stripping cities and counties from passing their own laws.

Mike Kane for The Wall Street Journal Alan Gottlieb's Second Amendment Foundation, a gun-rights group, is targeting local ordinances that violate states' pre-emption laws.

Recently, a gun-rights group called the Second Amendment Foundation began picking through municipal codes around the nation for gun regulations that violate state pre-emption laws—and threatening to sue if the local rules aren't repealed.

Last fall, the group targeted ordinances in 30 municipalities in Virginia, including one that prohibited the possession of firearms at music or entertainment festivals in Franklin County in the Blue Ridge foothills. After receiving threats of lawsuits, about two-thirds of the jurisdictions repealed the laws or were in the process of doing so, said Alan Gottlieb, the group's founder.

The group also took exception to ordinances in 60 jurisdictions in Washington state, including the town of Dayton's ban on carrying guns in graveyards. The law was repealed in October.

"We're going to every municipality to take them all off the books," said Mr. Gottlieb.

The pre-emption movement began in 1981, in response to a handgun ban in Morton Grove, Ill., a suburb of Chicago. At the time, Morton Grove's ban was the strictest gun-control law in the country, and was viewed as the beginning of a nationwide trend. Then, the NRA started lobbying statehouses to prevent cities from passing what it viewed as draconian regulations.

"Pre-emption made it impossible" to pass the laws, said Duke's Ms. Goss.
More recently, the pre-emption movement won a pair of high-profile legal victories in California and Washington. The Second Amendment Foundation, along with the NRA, successfully challenged San Francisco's handgun ban in 2008, saying it violated California's decades-old pre-emption law. In 2011, a Seattle appeals court struck down a city ordinance banning guns from city parks, in another case pressed by the foundation and the NRA.

A few years ago, commissioners in Florida's wealthy Palm Beach County were considering banning gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. "I support the Second Amendment, but we saw no reason for clips that held 30, 50, 100 rounds," said Burt Aaronson, who was county commissioner.

Before the county could act, the Florida legislature passed a law in 2011 that allows state authorities to boot from office local lawmakers who pass gun-control regulations. "It stopped us in our tracks," said Mr. Aaronson. "Once our jobs were at stake, we dropped the plan entirely."

The commission sued the Florida legislature, the attorney general and the governor over the law. Part of the lawsuit was dismissed last year, and the case is currently pending before a state appellate court.

Critics of the pre-emption laws say they fail to account for population and demographic differences within a state, especially in places like Florida and Pennsylvania, which contain both sparsely populated rural areas and densely populated urban centers.

Defenders of pre-emption laws argue they impose a badly needed uniformity across a state. "Having a patchwork of laws throughout the states would basically decimate people's rights to self-defense or undermine one of their constitutional rights," said Andrew Arulanandam, an NRA spokesman.

In Tucson, officials have been playing a cat-and-mouse game with state lawmakers and gun-rights activists for more than a decade over firearms laws. In 2001, Tucson moved to require instant background checks on any gun sold at gun shows. After a lengthy court fight, local gun-rights advocates pressed for changes to state law that invalidated the city's regulation.

The city makes for an unlikely Second Amendment battleground. Guns are widely owned in the state, whose Constitution gives their owners more sweeping protections than the U.S. Constitution does.

Tuesday's vote on background checks is the first major step by the City Council to tighten gun laws since the shooting rampage here two years ago. But Arizona law says the state, not cities, has sole authority to set the conditions for buying and selling guns.

Even the author of the background-check regulation expects opponents to file a lawsuit or to petition state lawmakers to stifle his efforts. "They will sue us," said Steve Kozachik, the council member proposing the new restriction. "I say, 'Fine. Meet us on the courthouse steps.' "

"Every time the city of Tucson does this, we go back to our friends in the legislature and put them in a smaller box," said Todd Rathner, a lobbyist for the Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association and a member of the NRA board.

Write to
Ashby Jones at ashby.jones@wsj.com