NRA: Plan to muscle gun dealers violates preemption law


Arms With Ethics, a Miami-based nonprofit, wants to force gun dealers to follow their list of rules — which they call “best practices” —  in order to  prevent illegal gun trafficking and straw purchases.

More than a dozen municipalities in the Miami area have already pledged to support AWE’s  plan, which the group calls its “Responsible Gun Vendor Initiative.”

Those gun dealers who balk at the group’s rules won’t be able to do business with the municipalities that are backing the group and supporting the initiative.

“Local law enforcement departments spend $1.7 billion on guns every year. If local elected and law enforcement leaders work together to incentivize responsible gun industry practices, they can have a tremendous impact on the number of guns on the streets,” the group claims on its website.

Two of the “best practices”  described on the website include “regular inventory checks” and “providing training for gun store employees to recognize an illegal gun sale.”

However, in a guest column published in the Miami Herald last year by AWE’s founder Casey Woods, a former reporter, titled “Stand up to the gun lobby,” Woods suggested other best practices,”  such as requiring dealers to video tape all transactions and banning all cell phone calls inside a gun shop.

“The NRA and other ‘gun rights’ groups have created an America where the gun industry is absolved of all responsibility from its pursuit of profit at the expense of life,” Wood wrote. “I don’t want my tax dollars financing this bloody churn any more.”

Using the contact form on her website, I tried asking Wood whether she was  concerned that the municipal lawmakers who sign onto this proposal may be violating the state preemption statute by regulating firearms.

She did not respond to the email.

Marion Hammer

Marion Hammer

Marion Hammer, NRA’s Florida lobbyist and executive director of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida, said the plan violates state preemption laws, which could result in civil penalties and loss of employment for the lawmakers who have backed the plan.

“I think you’re clearly looking at a violation of the preemption law.  It’s a willful and knowing regulation by fiat rather than ordinance,” Hammer said. “When these governments say ‘Follow these rules or we won’t do business with you,’ they are regulating.  I don’t care how they style it, it’s a regulation of gun sales.

“Since these are tax dollars these governments are playing  games with, I wonder if it will make taxpayers unwitting accomplices to their blackmail,” Hammer said. “Rather than ‘Arms with Ethics’ it sounds more like ‘coercion and politics’ to me.”


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


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