State and Local Politics Go Nuclear

Guest post by Emma Claire Foley, Global Zero

With the power to launch catastrophic nuclear attacks limited to a few very powerful men (and one woman), nuclear weapons seem like an unlikely target for grassroots organizing. But it’s just that imbalance, along with growing unease with the international political climate around nuclear weapons, that is feeding efforts at the state and local level to push for limits on the way the United States’ nuclear arsenal can be used.

Activists across the country are pressing citizens and local lawmakers to engage on nuclear issues, and they have already seen results:

  • California legislators have introduced bills urging Congress to pass “no-first use” legislation, committing the United States to never use nuclear weapons first in a conflict.
  • California and Minnesota legislators are considering bills urging the United States to voluntarily commit to honor the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was signed by 122 non-nuclear countries in July 2017.
  • Vermont, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Illinois are all considering resolutions calling for “checks and balances” on the President’s authority to launch a nuclear strike.

Other states are considering similar measures, and city councils across the country are looking at what they can do to communicate their constituents’ concern about nuclear weapons. 

Significantly, each of the state resolutions calling for checks on presidential launch authority cite the catastrophic damage that a nuclear attack would do to the state, and nearly all provide estimates for the number of casualties likely from a nuclear attack on a metro area in their state.

There are numerous resources available for those who want to bring the fight for a safer nuclear order to their own communities. Students and anyone under 35 can consider joining the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization youth group, which organizes events and training sessions focused on non-proliferation and the promotion of the existing ban on testing nuclear weapons. Beyond the Bomb, an organization working to rid the world of nuclear weapons, offers resources and support to would-be local organizers

NTI’s Atomic Pulse blog periodically includes posts from guest authors. The views expressed are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of NTI, its Board of Directors or the institutions with which they are associated.

March 13, 2018

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