States Take Lead in Gun Violence Legislation | #College. | #Students

Students at Alderdice High School in Pittsburgh, PA. protest school shootings. Photo by Mark Dixon via Flickr

With a new wave of gun violence causing alarm across the nation, and no sign of congressional action in sight, several states have begun to prioritize firearms legislation this year, reports Stateline.

New York State Sen. Anna Kaplan sponsored a bill  earlier this year that would increase regulation surrounding ghost guns.

Two proposed bills in Delaware would increase the required training before being able to own a gun and ban magazines that contain over 17 rounds of ammunition. Anyone guilty of carrying a firearm with over 17 rounds of ammunition, classified as a “large-capacity magazine” under the new bill would be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor and most likely have to relinquish their weapon to the state.

Similarly, Connecticut lawmakers are currently attempting to increase regulations for risk protection, in an aim to take firearms away from individuals at risk of hurting themselves. The court could be able to seize their weapons should family or friends ask a judge to.

But while Americans overwhelmingly favor action to address gun violence, both parties agree that gun violence is bad, solutions advanced remain locked in partisan gridlock.

Just four months ago, the country was congratulating itself on the lowest number of mass shootings in over a decade – largely due to the coronavirus.

More people were at home instead of at work or school; the nation was focused on the spread of COVID-19 and the burgeoning movement to confront systemic racism. But as quarantine restrictions eased and more citizens are being vaccinated, the horror of mass gun violence has emerged again, with at least 45 shootings in the past month alone.

The reemergence of mass shootings has not gone unnoticed by the Biden administration, with six executive orders revolving around gun violence in early April.

“Gun violence takes lives and leaves a lasting legacy of trauma in communities every single day in this country, even when it is not on the nightly news,”  a White House press release said.

“Cities across the country are in the midst of a historic spike in homicides, violence that disproportionately impacts Black and brown Americans.”

Biden’s executive orders target common goals of gun legislation, like banning “ghost guns,” enforcing “red flag” laws and investing in “evidence-based community violence interventions.”

Meanwhile, federal lawmakers continue to encounter headwinds in their efforts to address firearm violence. See: Activists Target Filibuster as Key Hurdle to Gun Control. 

But even before Biden was signing executive orders, state legislators across the country were working on preventative legislation to combat gun violence earlier this year.

“Oftentimes, these types of decisions to end your life is impulsive,” said Jeremy Stein, Executive Director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence.

“If they had a cooling-down period or a period of time to get help, and we can take the gun away from this kind of compulsive decision, it can save lives.”

Much of the new gun legislation proposed early 2021 has been sponsored by Democratic state lawmakers. And while those Democratic legislators believe their work is lessening the risk of gun violence, many Republican lawmakers see it as a direct threat to the Second Amendment.

In fact, many Republican-led states have pushed legislation opposite to the ones in New York, Connecticut and Delaware, instead pushing for more gun freedom and rights for citizens.

Montana legislation passed in February loosens gun restrictions on college campuses, and  supports the idea of “constitutional carry” for citizens to protect themselves.

Democrats often propose preventative measures―like red flag laws or ghost gun bans― to prevent a gun being in the wrong hands in the first place, while Republicans propose reactive solutions, allowing citizens to carry guns in order to protect themselves from potential threats.

“If you’re bringing a fire extinguisher to a gunfight, you’re probably not going to win,” Montana Rep. Seth Berglee told Stateline.

“It’s natural law: You have the right to defend yourself.”

Amidst the debate from both sides,  almost two-thirds of Americans would favor a majority of Americans are in favor of stricter gun legislation, according to a USA Today/Ipsos poll.

“What’s holding us back right now is politics, not public sentiment,” said  Allison Anderman, a senior counsel for the Giffords Law Center.

See more: New Jersey and Texas Gun Laws Reflect Different Priorities

This summary was prepared by TCR reporting intern Emily Riley.

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