WASHINGTON, DC -- As many state legislatures across the country wrap up their sessions for the year, a new report released today provides an analysis of the latest national trends in state firearms legislation. Released by Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, and its partner organization the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Gun Law Trendwatch: 2017 Mid-Year Review documents a series of important, lifesaving legislative victories in states across the country. Trendwatch also details the ways in which the gun lobby is attempting to chip away at state gun laws by moving forward a deadly agenda to allow more guns in more places.
Thanks to the unyielding efforts of the gun violence prevention movement and groups like Americans for Responsible Solutions and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, in the 2017 legislative cycle, legislators in 13 states rejected measures to allow guns on campus and legislators in 20 states defeated measures to allow guns in public without a permit. This success is further evidence that the gun violence prevention movement has maintained the historic momentum generated in response to the tragedy at Newtown. In fact, since 2013, 198 gun laws that make communities safer have been enacted across 45 states and DC.
“While Washington continues to be stuck in the gun lobby’s grip, gun safety advocates are taking on the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda in states across the country and advancing bills that help protect families from gun violence and make our communities safer places to live, work, and play,” said Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Co-Founder of Americans for Responsible Solutions. “At a time when over 36,000 Americans are dying from gun violence every year, now is the time for lawmakers to come together, be responsible, and make our communities safer. Since the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, we’ve made a lot of progress on this issue, passing 198 responsible gun laws across 45 states. We look forward to continuing to work across the aisle to advance commonsense solutions that protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and keep guns out of the wrong hands.”
The new report, Gun Law Trendwatch: 2017 Mid-Year Review, contains a roundup and analysis of firearms bills that have been introduced in states across the country, including:
Defeated Gun Lobby Bills. The gun lobby suffered numerous setbacks to its agenda this cycle. Legislators in 13 states rejected measures to allow guns on campus and legislators in 20 states defeated measures to allow guns in public without a permit. The gun lobby also failed to repeal background check laws in Washington, Nebraska, and Iowa.
New Gun Safety Laws. Americans for Responsible Solutions and other groups in the gun violence prevention movement worked to advance a series of smart gun laws. In Hawaii and Washington, we saw legislation that would strengthen the background check system. In Utah and Washington, we saw bills that will help reduce the epidemic of firearm suicide. Five states, including Maryland, New Jersey, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah, enacted legislation that combats the deadly nexus between gun violence and domestic violence.
New Gun Lobby Laws. This year’s legislative cycle saw very few victories for the gun lobby, and those primarily confined to states with already poor gun laws. Arkansas, New Hampshire, and North Dakota all passed laws to weaken concealed carry laws, while Texas and Tennessee passed legislation to weaken silencer regulations. The gun lobby’s efforts to dismantle the laws regulating silencers and concealed carry mirror its efforts at the federal level. Fortunately, this year advocates stopped many of the gun lobby’s dangerous bills from advancing.
“The gun violence prevention movement has had remarkable success passing lifesaving smart gun laws while blocking dangerous gun lobby measures,” said Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “Despite these major victories for public safety, there is still so much more that must be done to protect Americans and make our communities safer. With a handful of state legislatures still in session, we look forward to working with lawmakers and advocates to achieve additional legislative victories and continue fighting for the policies we know will save lives and protect our communities from the scourge of gun violence.”
Read the full report: Gun Law Trendwatch: A Roundup and Analysis of the Latest State Firearms Legislation
Case Studies of Advocacy in Action
Since the start of 2017 legislative session, Americans for Responsible Solutions has worked with advocates and leaders in states across the country to advance important legislation that will reduce gun violence and save lives and to prevent bills from passing that will threaten the safety of our communities. Already this year, we’ve achieved numerous legislative victories. A few examples of our work includes:
New Jersey: In January of this year, Republican Governor Chris Christie signed into law a bipartisan compromise bill, S2483, to help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous abusers. Following a roundtable discussion in March 2015 led by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, Americans for Responsible Solutions worked closely with New Jersey leaders in both parties to craft and lead efforts to advance the bill. New Jersey domestic violence organizations as well as local gun violence prevention advocates were also instrumental partners in this work. The new law helps to protect domestic violence survivors by requiring abusers who are convicted of domestic violence to surrender their firearms and provide a receipt and affidavit to the court demonstrating that they have done so.
Oregon: Americans for Responsible Solutions and the Oregon Coalition for Common Sense - which is comprised of gun owners, veterans, educators, law enforcement officials and community advocates - have been helping to lead the charge to pass an innovative new policy, the Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO), that will help save the lives of those who may be experiencing a crisis. The proposed legislation, SB 719, prohibits a person who is in danger of hurting themselves or others from possessing a firearm. The bill passed the Oregon Senate on May 1 and is awaiting action in the Oregon House of Representatives. Jenna Yuille, the Engagement Manager for Americans for Responsible Solutions hails from Oregon, and is a gun violence survivor. Joined by members of the Oregon Coalition, Jenna delivered powerful testimony after her father committed suicide with a firearm, sharing how he might have been saved had ERPO been in place. Currently only four states in the country have similar laws but the initial research on the efficacy of this policy is promising. In the first 14 years of the implementation of Connecticut’s law, it is estimated that between 38-76 lives were saved due to their law.
California: Attorneys from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Americans for Responsible Solutions worked with a coalition of partners to lead the effort for the inclusion of $9.2 million for the CalVIP program in the 2017 California budget. CalVIP is one of the only sources of state-level funding for locally driven violence prevention strategies. In recent years, the program’s grantee cities across California, including Los Angeles, San Jose, and Oakland, have achieved lifesaving, cost-effective reductions in both violent crime and incarceration by implementing programs that provide focused outreach, counseling, and other services to at-risk youth. Hundreds of Law Center/ARS supporters sent their representatives letters urging them to support the CalVIP funding. In March 2016, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence released a groundbreaking report, Healing Communities in Crisis, highlighting the importance of locally driven violence prevention and intervention strategies—exactly the kind of solutions supported by CalVIP funding.
Arizona: Americans for Responsible Solutions and the Arizona Coalition for Common Sense helped stop several dangerous gun bills this session, including HB 2118, an extreme and dangerous bill which proposed the formation of an illegal compact between states that would prohibit Arizona from enacting commonsense firearms laws without the consent of all the other member states. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly brought together with lawmakers, coalition partners, and stakeholders in their home state to stop these irresponsible gun bills that would have made Arizona communities less safe. In addition to defeating the firearms compact bill, we worked with partners to defeat HB 2287, an irresponsible bill that would have weakened Shannon’s Law by making it more difficult for law enforcement to prosecute those who illegally discharge firearms in celebration, and SB 1159, a bill that would have infringed on the rights of Arizonans by holding small business owners and individuals who chose to prohibit guns on their premises liable for damages caused by a shooting. These proposed bills would have endangered Arizona communities and would have unfairly burdened small business owners.
Virginia: With the Virginia Coalition for Common Sense, we worked with Governor Terry McAuliffe and lawmakers in the Virginia General Assembly to defeat harmful gun bills that would have allowed more firearms in the hands of untrained individuals. Governor McAuliffe vetoed several dangerous bills, including HB 1852/SB 1299, which would have made women and families in crisis less safe. In addition, members of the Virginia Coalition for Common Sense, such as John Bell, retired Deputy Chief, Virginia Beach Police Department, worked with legislators to defeat two extreme gun bills: SB 1450, an irresponsible campus carry bill, which would have let individuals carry loaded, concealed firearms on public college campuses, and HB 2265/SB 1440 a dangerous permitless carry bill that would have let unsuitable individuals carry loaded, concealed weapons in public.
Texas: Working closely with law enforcement and local advocates, Americans for Responsible Solutions helped defeat two dangerous permitless carry bills (HB 1911 and HB 375) this year. Two members of the ARS Law Enforcement Coalition for Common Sense, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, spoke out against permitless carry in Texas. If passed, HB 375 or HB 1911 would have allowed any eligible person to purchase a firearm and carry both open and concealed handguns in public without a permit. In addition, HB 375 would have also prohibited college and university campuses from preventing individuals from carrying concealed handguns on their campuses.
Founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS) is committed to advancing commonsense change that makes communities safer from gun violence. Learn more at www.responsiblesolutions.org and at @Resp_Solutions.