Trendwatch: State Legislatures Respond to Polling Demanding Stronger Gun Laws


Many state legislatures are responding to polling that shows strong support for safer gun laws, while others maintain allegiance to the gun lobby. Our latest edition of Gun Law Trendwatch breaks down what you need to know.

Following years of catastrophic mass shootings, rising gun suicide rates, and daily carnage on the streets of numerous cities, American voters are demanding change. An Associated Press poll conducted in February 2019 showed 69 percent of respondents are in favor of stronger gun laws. This sentiment is echoed at the state level. But while some states are hearing the message loud and clear, others are not.

Polling in April 2018 by the Star Tribune in Minnesota and in 2019 by the nonpartisan group SurveyUSA showed that nine out of 10 Minnesotans support background checks on all gun TWDLTLI-215purchases. The SurveyUSA poll also revealed that 87 percent of voters support an extreme risk protection order (ERPO) law. In April, the house responded by passing bills that would close the private sale loophole and enact an ERPO.

After a SurveyUSA poll found that 71 percent of Alabama voters support requiring people carrying guns in public to obtain a permit and undergo a background check, two Republicans broke party ranks by voting against a dangerous permitless carry bill, SB 4.

Yet some state elected officials are ignoring the will of their constituents in favor of appeasing the gun lobby. Just over a year after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, a Quinnipiac University poll found that 57 percent of Florida voters oppose arming teachers. Despite this, legislators approved, and the governor signed, SB 7030, which asks teachers to also play the role of security guard.

While some representatives continue to fail their constituents by refusing to enact lifesaving gun laws, every day many more are courageously defying corporate gun interests in favor of a safer America.

Read the full roundup here, or check out this summary of where gun safety legislation stands in states around the country today.

Gun Violence Prevention Bills

At least 18 states have bills pending that would close domestic violence loopholes that allow abusers to access guns.

  • North Dakota HB 1393 was enacted on April 30.
  • Oregon HB 2013 has a hearing on May 15.

Extreme risk protection order bills are pending in at least 19 states.

  • Indiana HB 1651, which would strengthen existing law, was enacted on May 6.
  • California AB 61, which would strengthen existing law, passed the assembly.

At least 9 states have bills pending to allocate or protect funding for community-based urban gun violence reduction strategies.

  • Minnesota HB 2414 passed both chambers.
  • California AB 656 passed a committee and has a hearing on May 16. AB 166 also has a hearing on May 16.

Dangerous Gun Lobby Bills

Dangerous bills to allow guns in school or on campus are pending in at least 17 states.

  • Montana HB 325 was vetoed on May 3 and HB 567 was vetoed on May 7.
  • HB 357 was passed on May 2 and will be on the 2020 ballot.
  • Indiana HB 1284 was enacted on April 26.
  • Florida SB 7030 was enacted on May 8.
  • Texas SB 811 passed a house committee.
  • Pennsylvania SB 621 passed a committee.

Defensive Victory Highlights

So far in 2019, the gun violence prevention movement has defeated bills to weaken concealed carry permitting laws in eight states; to allow guns onto local and state property in seven states; to arm teachers and other civilians in K–12 schools in eight states; and to allow concealed carry without a permit in four states. Other defeated gun lobby–backed legislation includes bills that would force businesses to allow guns in parking lots in two states; to bring guns onto the campuses of colleges and universities in eight states; and to enact or expand “stand your ground” laws in four states.

As state governments around the country begin to wrap up their legislative sessions and the NRA descends further into disarray, activists and courageous legislators continue to keep up the fight to enact lifesaving gun laws and defeat dangerous gun lobby bills.

About Trendwatch: Distributed biweekly during the state legislative cycle, Gun Law Trendwatch rounds up and analyzes trends in state gun legislation, documents important victories, and monitors the gun lobby’s activity in legislatures across the United States.