New Report Highlights National Trends in 2017 State Gun Safety Legislation

December 20, 2017—A new report from Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence provides an analysis of the national trends this year in state firearms legislation. Gun Law Trendwatch: 2017 Year-End 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 promoting a deadly agenda to allow more guns in more places.

Thanks to the unyielding efforts of the gun violence prevention movement and groups like Giffords, 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 people to carry loaded, concealed firearms 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 Sandy Hook elementary school five years ago. In fact, since 2013, over 210 gun laws that make communities safer have been enacted across 45 states and the District of Columbia.

“The gun safety movement has had remarkable success passing new gun laws that save lives while blocking dangerous bills backed by the gun lobby,” said Allison Anderman, managing attorney of Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “This year we saw major victories for public safety that mean more Americans will be better protected from gun violence. Lawmakers are realizing that the damage from gun violence will not go away if they stay silent. In 2018 we’ll continue the momentum we’ve established by continuing to encourage our leaders to stand up and better protect their communities from this threat.”

Gun Law Trendwatch: 2017 Year-End Review contains a roundup and analysis of firearm bills that were introduced in states across the country this year. Attorneys at Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence tracked nearly 1,700 bills introduced in state legislatures across the nation in order to identify key trends, including:

  • New Gun Safety Laws: Giffords and other groups in the gun violence prevention movement worked to advance legislation that will make communities safer from gun violence. In Hawaii and Washington, legislation was signed into law that strengthens the background check system. In Utah and Washington, bills that will help stem the epidemic of firearm suicide were passed. Five states, including Maryland, New Jersey, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah, enacted legislation that addresses the deadly nexus between gun violence and domestic violence.
  • Defeated Gun Lobby Bills: The gun lobby suffered numerous setbacks to its extreme 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 Lobby Laws: This year’s legislative cycle saw very few victories for the gun lobby, and those were primarily confined to states with already weak gun laws. Arkansas, New Hampshire, and North Dakota all passed bills 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.

Read the full reportGun Law Trendwatch: 2017 Year-End Review

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Case Studies of Advocacy in Action
Since the start of 2017 legislative session, Giffords has worked with advocates and leaders in states across the country to advance important legislation that will reduce gun violence and save lives while preventing 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, Giffords 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: Giffords and Giffords Oregon Coalition—which is comprised of gun owners, veterans, educators, law enforcement officials, and community advocates—led 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. SB 719, the bipartisan bill which was signed into law by Governor Kate Brown in August, prohibits a person who is in danger of hurting themselves or others from possessing a firearm. Jenna Yuille, the engagement manager for Giffords, hails from Oregon, and is a gun violence survivor. Joined by members of Giffords 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 its law.
  • California: Giffords Law Center drafted and sponsored the Disarm Hate Act (AB 785), which closes a gap in California law that permits individuals convicted of hate crimes to possess and acquire firearms within 10 years of conviction. Governor Jerry Brown signed this bill in October. Additionally, Giffords Law Center 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 supporters sent their representatives letters urging them to support the CalVIP funding. In March 2016, Giffords Law Center, released a groundbreaking report with PICO National Network, Healing Communities in Crisis, highlighting the importance of locally driven violence prevention and intervention strategies—exactly the kind of solutions supported by CalVIP funding.
  • Massachusetts: Representative David Linsky and state lawmakers in Massachusetts passed the first state bump stock ban after the massacre in Las Vegas in October. Massachusetts’ Republican Lt. Governor Karyn Polito signed the law in November. Giffords and SiX Action released a state legislative toolkit for addressing bump stocks that details legislative options for lawmakers who want to take action.
  • Arizona: Giffords and Giffords Arizona Coalition 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 lifesaving gun laws without the consent of all the other member states. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly brought together 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, Giffords 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: Giffords Virginia Coalition, 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 Giffords Virginia Coalition, 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, Giffords helped defeat two dangerous permitless carry bills (HB 1911 and HB 375) this year. Two members of the Giffords Law Enforcement Coalition, 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.

For additional information or to arrange time to speak with a gun violence prevention expert, contact Jason Phelps at jphelps@giffords.org

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