Gun Law Trendwatch rounds up the latest information on gun legislation in America.
Each year, our attorneys track and analyze state firearm legislation, both positive and negative, as it’s proposed across the country, researching close to 2,000 bills annually. Distributed monthly during the first half of the year, when the majority of state legislatures are in session, Gun Law Trendwatch follows developments in gun policy, documents key victories, and monitors the gun lobby’s efforts to undermine public safety.
Interested in partnering with us to draft, enact, or implement lifesaving gun safety legislation in your community? Our attorneys provide free assistance to lawmakers, public officials, and advocates working toward solutions to the gun violence crisis.
Legislative sessions have begun in most states, and gun violence prevention bills are already on the move across the country.
For the Virginia legislature, 2024 promises to be a productive year for gun safety. After listening to Virginia residents, lawmakers are likely to put multiple gun violence prevention bills on Governor Glenn Youngkin’s desk that address a wide array of gun policies, including banning assault weapons, auto sears, and ghost guns; limiting the carrying of concealed handguns in public; and ensuring that people convicted of domestic violence turn over their guns. As of February 1, six bills had already passed one chamber, and many other bills had passed out of committee.
Virginia is prioritizing gun safety once again.
For some longtime gun safety advocates, this activity may feel a little like déjà vu. In 2020 and 2021, following prominent mass shootings in the state, Virginia enacted numerous gun safety bills under then governor Ralph Northam. In 2020, Virginia passed laws that require background checks, require the reporting of lost or stolen firearms, ban bump stocks, allow people to put themselves on a list so they cannot buy firearms, and limit the purchase of handguns to one per month. Then in 2021, Virginia passed laws that disarm people who have committed domestic violence; allow courts to issue extreme risk protection orders; protect polling places, schools, and government buildings from guns; and allow the state police five business days to conduct a background check. Thanks to these new gun safety measures, Virginia’s grade jumped from a D to a B in GIFFORDS Law Center’s Annual Gun Law Scorecard.
While progress may have slowed in 2022 and 2023, Virginia was still able to improve its grade from a B to a B+ by investing in community violence prevention programs. In 2023 in particular, Virginia invested $34 million in community violence intervention (CVI) and created the Office of Safer Communities. Governor Youngkin also signed into law a $10 million, one-time appropriation to create the Virginia Mass Violence Care Fund, designed to provide assistance to victims and survivors of mass shootings, as well as their families.
Despite this progress, Virginians continue to suffer from gun violence.
The state is a major source of guns trafficked into Maryland, New York, New Jersey, and DC. The District of Columbia, in particular, has been hard hit by gun violence in recent years, and Virginia’s less-than-adequate gun laws bear some responsibility.
In addition, gun violence in Virginia made headlines last year when a six-year-old boy critically injured a teacher with a handgun in a first grade classroom in Newport News, Virginia. The handgun used by the boy was purchased by his mother and was kept in their home until the boy brought it to school in his backpack the day of the shooting. A few months later, a high school graduation in Richmond was the site of a mass shooting.
Legislators will continue to fight for safer communities.
Luckily, following the results of last year’s elections, gun safety is once again a top priority for the state legislature. In November, Democrats retained control over the state senate and took control of the house of delegates—and, in what one reporter has called a “replay of 2020,” the legislature has already demonstrated a real hunger to pass gun laws that will reduce gun violence. It’s also sparked speculation about whether the Republican governor will sign gun safety legislation into law or veto the popular policies. In the meantime, legislators are continuing to listen to their constituents and put in the work to create safer communities for us all.
Our experts can speak to the full spectrum of gun violence prevention issues. Have a question? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more than three decades, GIFFORDS Law Center has helped states pass evidence-based gun safety policies while fighting the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda. This year, both gun safety bills and gun lobby bills are moving in statehouses across the country, as lawmakers go head to head over protecting their communities from gun violence versus caving to the whims of the gun lobby.
So far in 2024, at least 35 states and Washington DC have active gun safety bills.
Gun Safety Bills in Motion
BACKGROUND CHECKS: DE SB-2 is moving to the floor of the second chamber and was mentioned in the governor’s budget. Bills that would enact universal background checks or strengthen existing background check laws are pending in at least 13 states.
COMMUNITY VIOLENCE: NJ AB-5326 was signed into law by the governor. CA AB-1252 passed its house of origin. NM HB-144 passed a committee. MD SB-475 is scheduled for a hearing on 2/9. At least 13 states have bills pending that allocate, protect, or administer funding for evidence-based violence prevention programs.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: MI HB-4946 was scheduled for a hearing on 1/30. VA SB-642 was scheduled for a hearing on 1/31. VA HB-46 and VA SB-47 have passed their chambers of origin. At least 20 states have bills pending that would improve efforts to keep guns out of the hands of people who commit domestic abuse.
GHOST GUNS: VT SB-209 was scheduled for a hearing on 1/31. VA HB-173 and VA SB-100 passed committees and were scheduled for additional hearings. At least 11 states have bills pending that regulate ghost guns or improve the effectiveness of their ghost gun policies.
INDUSTRY ACCOUNTABILITY: NM HB-114 and VA SB-491 each passed a committee. NH HB-1037 was scheduled for hearing on 1/31. At least nine states and Washington DC have bills pending that would allow survivors to hold the gun industry accountable in court.
EXTREME RISK PROTECTION ORDERS: CA AB-667 passed its house of origin. NH SB-360 was set for a hearing on 1/25. NY-SB 3340 and NM HB-27 each passed a committee. VA HB-927 was scheduled for a hearing on 2/1 and VA SB-258 was scheduled for a hearing on 1/31. At least 22 states have bills that would establish or strengthen laws that allow courts to issue orders to temporarily remove guns from those who pose a risk to themselves or others.
Gun Lobby Bills in Motion
GUNS IN SCHOOLS: ID HB-415 passed its chamber of origin. WV HB-4851 passed a committee. WV SB-143 passed the state senate. WV HB-4851 and TN HB-1631 were scheduled for a hearing on 1/31. TN HB-977 was withdrawn from further consideration. Dangerous bills to allow or expand the ability to carry guns in school or on campus are pending in at least 18 states.
PERMITLESS CARRY: SC HB-3594 was scheduled for a vote on the floor of the state senate on 1/30. Bills to remove requirements for a permit to carry a concealed weapon are pending in at least seven states.
STAND YOUR GROUND: WI AB-544 and WI SB-517 were scheduled for hearings on 1/11. At least 10 states have bills that would extend the right to use deadly force and claim self-defense.
LIABILITY FOR ENFORCING GUN LAWS: NH HB-512 died, having failed to pass the house. Bills that would make law enforcement officers or other state and local government officials personally liable, or otherwise impose onerous penalties on law enforcement agencies or localities, for enforcing federal gun laws are pending in at least six states.
MERCHANT CATEGORY CODE: WI SB-466 has passed both chambers and is headed to the governor’s desk. IN HB-1084 passed a committee. NH HB-1186 was scheduled for hearings on 1/31 and 2/2. At least 11 states have bills pending that would prohibit credit card companies or similar entities from using a code to identify firearm businesses.
MANDATORY BANKING: AZ SB-1167 passed a committee. IN SB-28 was scheduled for hearing on 1/31. NE LB-925 was scheduled for a hearing on 2/1. Bills that would penalize banks or other companies that refuse to do business with the gun industry are pending in at least 10 states.
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GUN VIOLENCE STATISTICS
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