This month, the South Carolina House of Representatives made it clear that they don’t want anyone’s hands on their guns—not national leaders, and certainly not local ones. To keep Washington’s interference at bay, representatives introduced a bill that would let the state consider seceding from the country if the federal government were to start confiscating legally purchased firearms. But they also launched an inward-facing attack, introducing a “Second Amendment Protection Act” that would enforce extra punishments on cities that act to “restrict [gun] access beyond that which is provided by state law.”
South Carolina already has harsh state preemption policies that weaken localities’ ability to pass their own gun regulations, as do 42 other states. So why is it passing a new one? The answer may lie in a bold piece of legislation passed this December by the city of Columbia, in what has become the most recent manifestation of a city-state battle over guns—waged while the federal government sits most of it out.