Pressure Leads to Progress

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While Senate leaders continue to block gun safety legislation in Congress, there is reason to celebrate: Since Parkland, 32 states and DC have signed over 110 gun safety bills into law. In 2019 alone, 47 gun safety bills have been passed in 22 states and DC.

Historic Progress in Congress

For years, the gun lobby’s toxic grip on Congress blocked meaningful change to our nation’s federal gun laws.

That changed after the 2018 midterm elections, when American voters elected a gun safety majority to the House of Representatives, which swiftly took action. Early in 2019, members of Congress made good on their campaign promises and passed critical gun violence prevention legislation in the House for the first time in more than a decade.

Gun lobby–bought senators are blocking further federal action, but state legislatures aren’t waiting around for Congress to pass lifesaving gun laws.

So far this year, gun safety advocates have continued the momentum that’s been building up since the tragedies in Newtown and Parkland, prompting state lawmakers across the country to pass laws to make their communities safer places to live, work, and play.

19.07 SOC Mid Year Trendwatch Infographics_Bill Map Email

Since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012, 45 states and DC have enacted over 315 gun safety laws. According to Giffords Law Center’s latest analysis, that trend continued to grow after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018. In the 17 months since that tragedy, 32 states have passed over 110 gun safety bills, including 16 states with Republican governors.

Progress State by State Since Parkland

  • Over 110 gun safety bills have been signed into law in 32 states and DC
  • Nine states have passed laws to add or improve background check requirements (FL, LA, NJ, NM, NV, OR, TN, VT, WA)
  • Thirteen states have passed laws to help keep guns away from domestic abusers (AR, CA, KS, LA, MD, NM, NY, OH, OR, PA, UT, VT, WA)
  • 12 states and DC have passed extreme risk protection order laws. (CO, DC, DE, FL, HI, IL, MA, MD, NV, NY, NJ, RI, VT)
  • Nine states have passed laws to dedicate funding to evidence-based community gun violence reduction strategies (CA, CT, FL, IL, MA, MD, NE, NY, RI)
  • 16 Republican governors have signed gun safety bills into law since Parkland.

Passing strong legislation isn’t the only victory for gun safety. In the 2019 legislative session alone, the gun violence prevention movement defeated some of the gun lobby’s top legislative priorities in 26 states, including permitless carry and guns in schools bills. Notably, legislation that aimed to arm teachers and other civilians on K–12 campuses were rejected by 18 states.

In 2019, some of the most groundbreaking and robust gun safety bills to pass in states include:

  • Extreme risk protection orders are now law in Colorado, Washington DC, Hawaii, Nevada, and New York, bringing the total number of states that have these laws nationwide to 17.
  • While the Senate sits on bills that would create universal background checks and keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, several states have passed legislation to do exactly that. New Mexico and Nevada passed major legislation to close the private sale loophole and ensure that all gun sales are subject to background checks. New Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oregon, and Washington all expanded efforts to disarm domestic abusers.
  • Community violence reduction programs are proven to save lives by intervening with those most at risk of being a victim or perpetrator of gun violence. California tripled its annual funding, from $9 million to $30 million, for grants to community-based organizations and Illinois invested $25 million into a similar program. A total of six states set aside new funding for these proven strategies.

For the complete list of state gun legislation so far this year, check out the mid-year edition of Gun Law Trendwatch from Giffords Law Center.

Building on Success

These victories didn’t just happen on their own. This progress is the result of years of activism as well as heightened efforts to elect gun safety champions up and down the ballot.

In 2018, Americans saw a new wave of activism and progress blossom, and so far this year, there’s strong evidence that the lifesaving momentum is here to stay. Americans will no longer accept inaction in the wake of tragedy.

In 2019 and beyond, Giffords will continue to fight for stronger gun laws, fight back against gun lobby bills, and elect gun safety champions.