S.C. Judge upholds preemption, rules Columbia gun ordinances invalid

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson won a lawsuit against the City of Columbia for violating the Palmetto State’s firearms preemption law. (Screen snip, YouTube, Carolina Business Review)

A South Carolina judge has upheld the state’s long-standing preemption law by ruling three gun control ordinances adopted in the City of Columbia are invalid, according to The State, a newspaper in the city.

The city has said it will appeal if its motion to reconsider is denied.

But the Post and Courier added a spin on the ruling, noting in its own report, “Minutes after the ruling became public, a gun fight was reported in Five Points around 4:20 p.m. with one man injured and bullet holes riddled in cars on Greene Street near Harden Street.”

There does not appear to be any connection between the court action and the shooting.

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Judge Jocelyn Newman ruled in favor of state Attorney General Alan Wilson’s lawsuit, filed against the city in 2020 in response to the adoption of three gun control ordinances in 2019, The State reported.

Several states have adopted preemption statutes over the year to bring uniformity to gun laws within their boundaries. It has resulted in various attempts by cities to test or get around those laws, and Columbia is just one example.

Out in Washington State, legal actions against such attempts have been filed by private entities while anti-gun State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has taken no action. Seattle and Edmonds have tried to enact so-called “safe storage” ordinances, but the state Court of Appeals has already struck down the Edmonds law and a ruling in the Seattle case remains unannounced.

Ferguson is a Democrat. Wilson is a Republican.

In the Columbia case, Wilson issued a statement declaring, “We’ve said for three decades now that state law doesn’t allow cities, towns or counties to regulate firearms, so we appreciate the judge’s ruling. These Columbia ordinances clearly violate the state law that prohibits local governments from passing any gun laws or ordinances that regulate the transfer, ownership, or possession of firearms.”

Fits News called the ruling a “big Second Amendment victory,” but the more important issue appears to be the upholding of a state preemption law.

The National Rifle Association cheered the judge’s ruling, noting in a prepared statement, “This ensures that all law-abiding citizens in South Carolina have the same Second Amendment rights, regardless of where they are. It also prevents the creation of a confusing patchwork of laws that are difficult to understand and obey.”


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