Did you know that since the Newtown massacre, there have been about 1,500 state gun bills introduced? Did you know that 109 of these have now become law? The LawCenter to Prevent Gun Violence has stated that in the twelve months after the Sandy HookElementary School shooting, nearly every state has enacted at least one new gun law. Contrary to what you may think, almost 2/3 of these new laws actually decrease restrictions, and expand the rights of gun owners. Here are a few of the laws that have been passed in the last year.
The state of Alabama now requires the sheriffs to approve or deny permit applications within 30 days, and explain any rejections. Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana , Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, and Virginia have declared concealed-carry permit records confidential. Louisiana allows issuance of lifetime concealed handgun permits.
In Arkansas they now allow guns in places of worship, allow pregnant women to use deadly force to protect the fetus with no duty to retreat, and allow employees to carry on college campuses, as well as allowing firearms in bars and even allowing employees with concealed-carry permits to carry in liquor stores. Idaho declared that local governments may not regulate the carrying of concealed weapons. Kansas allows universities and colleges to authorize employees to carry in school buildings, and concealed-carry permit holders to carry in buildings that do not explicitly prohibit it. North Carolina allows firearms in bars, vehicles in state government parking areas, and on college campuses.
Indiana allows people authorized by school boards to carry firearms at K-12 schools, Kansas allows K-12 schools to authorize employees to carry in school buildings, and Oklahoma allows concealed and unconcealed handguns in private schools as well as on private school buses.
Alabama amended their state Constitution to say that every citizen has a right to bear arms and that any restrictions will be subject to strict scrutiny. Alaska and Kansas have nullified federal firearms laws in their states, and Missouri has prohibited state agencies from cooperating with the federal government to develop a firearms database. Arizona expanded a prohibition on keeping records of gun possession and purchases, as well as prohibiting the destruction of firearms by a government entity as part of a buyback effort. Montana has prohibited health care providers from asking patients about firearm ownership, Texas now allows the state attorney general to file injunctions against local governments that adopt regulations on firearms or ammunition, and pre-empts local regulations of air guns.
Most of the new restrictions concern mental health issues and background checks. Among these, Alabama, Colorado, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee require state officials to send mental health records to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. On the other hand, Utah has set up a system to restore gun rights for residents once designated as mentally ill. California has passed laws allowing more time to conduct background checks. Connecticut requires background checks for all gun, ammunition, and magazine sales. Delaware, Illinois, New York, and Colorado require background checks for private gun sales. West Virginia, however, now exempts concealed-carry permit holders from background checks.
Several states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, and New York, also passed laws banning high-capacity magazines, and certain “assault weapons”, while Louisiana repealed state regulations on machine guns and deferred instead to federal law. California has made it illegal to have a loaded firearm where a child may access it, and Utah allows people to hand their guns to police if they suspect that they or someone in their home may pose a danger to themselves or others.
Virginians should keep their “antennas” up, since many new bills concerning firearms are being proposed and will be voted on in the upcoming weeks and months. To see these bills, you can visit http://www2.vcdl.org/webapps/vcdl/2014leg.html