Early last month, South Carolina attorney general Alan Wilson made it abundantly clear that his office was prepared to take action against the city of Columbia, S.C. – the capital of the Palmetto State – in the event its leaders continued to enact gun control ordinances that ran afoul of both state law and the United States Constitution.
We editorialized in support of Wilson – who warned Columbia mayor Steve Benjamin that the city’s repeated attempts to impose unconstitutional firearm restrictions on city residents were inviting costly litigation that the municipality could not win (and that its taxpayers should not be required to bear).
We further argued that if Benjamin failed to “heed (this) warning,” that Wilson’s office should “follow up with the decisive action such defiance would require.
That “decisive action” came on Wednesday …
According to a news release from his office, Wilson has filed suit against the city – asking the S.C. supreme court to “strike down various ordinances adopted by the city of Columbia related to guns.”
Wilson is asking the court to accept the matter in its original jurisdiction, hoping to provide clarity on the matter in the event other municipalities seek to appropriate unto themselves authority which is clearly vested at the federal and state level.
“We have consistently advised for almost three decades, since 1991, that state law preempts local regulation of firearms,” Wilson said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “These 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.”
Is he correct? Absolutely …
S.C. Code of Laws (§ 23-31-510) explicitly prohibits municipalities in the Palmetto State from passing “any ordinance that regulates or attempts to regulate … the transfer, ownership, possession, carrying, or transportation of firearms, ammunition, components of firearms, or any combination of these things.”
Benjamin and his cronies on city council have been habitually violating this law and – by extension – the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In addition to its courtesy letter sent to Benjamin last month, Wilson’s office has issued a trio of opinions related to recent gun control ordinances passed by city council. Prior to that, it put the city on notice back in 2015 after its council passed an “emergency ordinance” banning firearms and other unspecified “dangerous weapons” within 250 feet of the grounds of the S.C. State House.
We argued at the time that such an ordinance was prima facie unconstitutional and in direction violation of state law.
Wilson’s office agreed, issuing an opinion (.pdf) informing the city that its proposed ordinance was “preempted by State law, and thus unconstitutional.”
“This office strongly supports the Second Amendment,” S.C. solicitor general Bob Cook added in the 2015 letter.
(Click to view)
(Via: City of Columbia, S.C.)
Benjamin didn’t learn his lesson then … and clearly hasn’t learned his lesson now. Now it is up to the supreme court to put him in check – which we fully expect it to do.
In addition to being right on the law, Wilson is right on the merits of this case.
As we have argued on many occasions, stripping law-abiding citizens of their ability to protect themselves is not going to make Columbia any safer. After all, the real problem the city is facing is Benjamin’s ongoing insistence on shortchanging core government functions like law enforcement in the name of speculative real estate boondoggles.
“Benjamin is the latest in a long line of grandstanding, liberal politicians pimping the fantasy that tougher gun laws will reduce gun violence,” we noted in a column two years ago.
Oh, and let’s not forget the fact that his wife – S.C. circuit court judge DeAndrea Benjamin – and so many of her judicial colleagues keep putting violent criminals back on the streets in the name of “justice reform.”
Those are the real dangers to public safety, not law-abiding gun owners.
WEB EXTRA: THE LAWSUIT
(Via: S.C. Attorney General’s Office)
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