Episode 71 - I had no idea the NRA did this in 45 states

Transcript, Web links and Credits below.


I woke up early this morning, at about 5 a.m., to prepare for today’s episode, and a bright idea came to me.

Why don’t we start a movement across the country to have cities ban assault rifles and all weapons of war? And when I started researching it, I found something that shocked me.

The NRA helped write laws in 45 states banning cities from being able to make their own gun laws. Did you know that? I had no idea. Only five states in the entire country currently allow cities to make their own gun laws.

And guess what? Those are five of the safest states in the nation for gun violence.

Let’s dig in. I have two action steps for us today.

This is Shaun King, and you are listening to (The Breakdown)!

(The Breakdown Intro)

This past weekend, 59 people were shot in Chicago. 10 people were shot and killed in Dayton. 22 people in El Paso were shot and killed in the deadliest hate crime in the United States since 1922; we now know that the shooting victims were as young as two and as old as 82.

Babies and elders. Mothers and fathers. Sons and daughters.

The shooter, a white supremacist, drove nearly 700 miles — that’s over nine hours — so that he could get close to the Mexican border and, in his own words, shoot as many Mexicans as possible. We learned late last night that before he walked into the Walmart with his weapon of war, he left everything in his car and walked into the Walmart to see if the store was full of Latinos. It was.

So he walked right back out to his car, got his assault rifle, put on shooting glasses and protective ear covers, and started shooting every single person he saw. 22 have died so far.

And just like that, he committed the deadliest race-based hate crime in this country since the Tulsa Massacre of 1921. And I need us to understand that we live in that age. We live in the age of the deadliest hate crime in nearly 100 years — not the 50s or 60s, but 2019.

The United States is the only nation in the world with more guns than people. And as I said last week, second place on that list is not even remotely close. Experts estimate that we have over 350 million guns in circulation and that as many as 100 million of them are literally weapons of war — AR15 and AK47 assault rifles — designed for fast, mass human carnage.

They don’t require skill. They don’t require licenses. They don’t even require registration in most states. All that you need to be able to slaughter 22 people at Walmart is a bunch of bullets, and in this nation, they’re plentiful.

And that’s all it takes: one weapon of war, clips that can hold a hundred bullets, and one person evil enough to walk out into the world to use it.

Last year was the single deadliest year ever measured for guns in America, with nearly 40,000 people shot and killed. School shootings hit a record high in 2018. Gun deaths by suicide hit a record high in 2018.

This year our nation has had at least 250 mass shootings. No other developed nation in the world has had more than two.

And so, if you listen to this podcast, you know that we’re going to flip the United States Senate away from conservatives so that meaningful legislation — on gun reform, on voter reform, on health care, on the minimum wage — can finally pass. And if you haven’t joined us yet, join us now at HowWeFlipTheSenate.com. There you can sign up to volunteer. You can donate to support our efforts, and be a part of our 15-month plan to flip the Senate. We can do it.

But today, I want to break down another hurdle for us.

Let me break it down.

(Breakdown Music)

In 1981, Morton Grove, Illinois, a small town about 30 miles north of Chicago, decided they wanted to ban handguns altogether. And that’s where the NRA comes in. All the way back in 1981, a full 38 years ago, the local gun groups and the NRA knew the way to stop the tiny town of Morton Grove from banning handguns wasn’t to take on Morton Grove, but it was to get Illinois to pass a law declaring that only states could make gun laws and that cities were banned from making any changes whatsoever.

It’s called preemption. And I didn’t know it, but for the past 38 years, it’s the primary battleground for the NRA. Since 1981, they’ve spent tens of billions of dollars — not millions, BILLIONS, with a B. They’ve spent tens of billions of dollars to get states to preemptively make laws declaring that cities aren’t allowed to have any say in the matter.

As it stands today, only Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York allow cities to make their own gun laws. And guess what? Out of all 50 states in the entire country, those are literally the five safest states for gun violence nationwide.

That’s not a fluke; that’s a trend. When cities all across a state are able to make their own gun laws — banning assault rifles, banning weapons of war, requiring background checks and registration, requiring training — the gun deaths in those states plummet. That’s not my opinion; it’s math. The five states that allow cities to set the ground rules for guns are the five safest states for gun deaths nationwide.

Which takes me to our action steps for today!

(Action Steps Music)

By my count, eight states in the country currently have a Democratic governor and a Democratic legislature but do not yet grant cities the right to make their own gun laws and policies.

They are the following:






Rhode Island



If you have not yet signed up to be a part of our team at TheActionPAC.com, we’re going to put some pressure on the governors and legislators of those states to vote down and remove their preemption laws, so that cities all over those states can make laws to protect people. It’s important.

If you’ve already signed up at TheBreakdownCrew.com — you don’t have to sign up twice — but we’re going to calmly, cooly, respectfully let the powerbrokers in those eight states know that they have to take power into their own hands right now to make their cities and states much safer.

When we put all of our eggs into the federal basket, sometimes we win, but most of the time we lose. Hear my heart: we must fight on the federal level AND be fighting for change on the state and local levels at the same time.

So after you sign up at TheActionPAC.com, we’re going to be giving you some real instructions for how we can sway these states and give cities the power to make people safer.

Which brings me to our final action step for today!

So far, an amazing 4,368 of you have chipped in and donated to The Action PAC! THANK YOU! Doing so is what’s going to allow this to not just be a podcast that’s great to hear, but a movement that we lead together.

We’ve had hundreds of donors give just $1, but our average donation is $20.21 per month. And we need all hands on deck — to fund not only our work to take back the Senate, but to make real change happen all over the country.

You can give now at TheActionPAC.com or at HowWeFlipTheSenate.com.

And it’s sad that I even have to say this: I don’t make a single dime from any of that — not a penny. All of our disclosures will be public every quarter, as required by law. Every dollar you give goes directly to funding the staff and campaigns and projects that we lead!

Thank you!

(Breakdown Music)


Thank you all for making it all the way through this episode of The Breakdown!

If you haven’t already subscribed to our podcast, we’ll be right back here every single weekday, breaking down important news stories and issues, and we’d love for you to subscribe on your favorite podcast apps like Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Please share this podcast with your friends and family. Our next goal is to get to 100,000 subscribers, and we won’t get there without you! Have you left a review yet? On Apple Podcasts we now have over 9,650 five-star reviews, but we’re aiming for 10,000. So we still want to hear from you, so please leave your best review when you get time.

Thank you so much to the nearly 30,000 founding members of The North Star whose generosity even makes this podcast possible. Love y’all, and appreciate you so much.

If you love this podcast and want to support our work — or want to see the show notes and transcript for each episode — we’d love it if you considered becoming a founding member of our community at TheNorthStar.com. There we not only have our podcasts, but hundreds of original articles and stories and commentaries from some of the leading scholars and thinkers and journalists in the world.

Lastly, a shout out to our Associate Producer Lyssandra and Podcasting Director and Senior Producer, Willis, for their hard work on this and every episode.

Take care everybody.



Produced by Willis Polk II

Additional production by Christian “Idrys” Shannon

Additional Instrumentation by Christian “Idrys” Shannon, Lance "Lance Fury" Powlis & Markeith Black

Additional Engineering by Amond “AJ” Jackson for Salem Psalms Library

Additional Vocals by Garnett “Natti” Bush & Jason Coffey

Scratches by Kenny “DJ FlipFlop” Vanderberg