Press Release

YEAR-END REPORT: States Continue to Prioritize Gun Safety, Passing 137 Gun Safety Bills in 32 States Since the Parkland Shooting 

In 2019, 23 state legislatures passed 70 bills targeted towards ending the gun violence epidemic

Multiple states funded community violence intervention programs, investments in reducing the impact of daily gun violence 

December 19, 2019 — As demands for lawmakers to do something about the ongoing toll of the nation’s gun violence crisis remain high, states across the country have reacted by prioritizing gun safety legislation in 2019, according to the year-end analysis released today by Giffords Law Center. Gun Law Trendwatch reveals that nearly three dozen states have stepped up and passed commonsense gun safety legislation since the shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018. Overall, 32 states and the District of Columbia have passed 137 lifesaving gun safety measures since the shooting in Parkland last year.  

“State legislatures have not stood still in the face of America’s rising gun violence crisis,” said Allison Anderman, Giffords Law Center Senior Counsel. “The gun lobby’s iron grip in states from coast to coast has melted away as lawmakers increasingly cast aside their threats and focus on keeping their communities safe. From keeping guns out of the hands of those experiencing a crisis to investing in evidence-based strategies to fight everyday gun violence, states recognize that tackling this epidemic requires a comprehensive agenda. As momentum grows and more leaders embrace the need for stronger gun laws, the record pace of legislative successes will help keep ever greater numbers of Americans safe for decades to come.”

Among the most notable policies embraced by states this year are efforts to reduce the daily gun violence that afflicts our nation’s most underserved communities. Evidence-based investments in local violence reduction efforts have been proven to save lives and allow cities and states to generate enormous savings for taxpayers. A recent Giffords Law Center report, A Case Study in Hope: Lessons From Oakland’s Remarkable Reduction in Gun Violence, explores Oakland’s successful citywide gun violence reduction strategy. Since 2012, Oakland has cut its annual shootings and homicides nearly in half, and efforts highlighted in the report suggest effective policy that could reduce community gun violence in cities around the state and the nation.

Examples of the types of lifesaving legislation we’ve seen pass just this year include:

  • Background Checks: Laws that add a background check requirement or improve an existing background check law passed in four states (NM, NV, NY, WA).

  • Bump Stocks and Trigger Activators: Laws to ban bump stocks and other trigger activators were enacted in two states (NV and NY) and the District of Columbia.

  • Child Access Prevention: Four states strengthened laws that help keep unattended guns out of the hands of minors (CA, CT, NV, NY).

  • Community Violence Reduction Programs: Legislation to provide state funding to evidence-based community violence prevention and intervention programs passed in nine states (CA, CT, IL, MA, NE, NJ, NY, RI, VA).

  • Dealer Regulations: Two states passed laws regulating firearms dealers (CA and IL).

  • Domestic Violence: Laws to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers passed in six states (AR, CA, LA, NM, OR, WA).

  • Extreme Risk Protection Orders: Extreme risk protection orders, measures that allow law enforcement, a family member or others in the community to petition for a temporary order removing access to firearms for at-risk individuals, were enacted or strengthened in seven states (CA, CO, HI, IN, NV, NY, WA) and DC.

  • Ghost Guns: Law regulating untraceable or undetectable firearms were passed in five states (CA, CT, NJ, NY, WA).

  • Gun Safety Technology: New Jersey passed legislation requiring all firearms dealers to offer at least one personalized handgun once a model is approved by a state commission and listed as eligible for sale.

Efforts by Giffords have also been successful in defeating gun lobby-backed bills in 27 states in 2019. These dangerous bills include:

  • Permitless carry: The gun lobby’s top legislative priority is repealing laws that require individuals to obtain a permit in order to carry a hidden, loaded gun in public. An effort to pass permitless carry legislation failed in seven states (AL, GA, IA, MN, SC, TX, VA).

  • Guns on campus: Dangerous proposals backed by the gun lobby in an effort to allow more firearms in more places were defeated in 2019. College campuses experience less gun violence than other public places, in large part due to restrictions on carrying firearms on campuses. 15 states were unable to pass bills to force universities to allow guns on campus (AR, CO, FL, GA, KY, MS, MO, NV, RI, SC, SD, TX, VA, WV, WY).

  • Guns in K–12 schools: 19 states failed to pass legislation to allow teachers, school personnel, or other armed civilians to carry firearms on school property (AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, GA, ID, IA, KY, MN, MO, MS, MT, NE, OK, SC, TN, WA, WY).

After the 2018 midterm elections, our country witnessed historic progress in the U.S. House of Representatives with the passing of critical gun violence prevention measures like universal background checks and funding for gun violence research. While gun violence research has cleared Congress, the rest of the agenda has been blocked from being signed into law by the Republican-led majority. At the state level, gun violence prevention has become a unifying, rather than dividing, issue as Republican governors in 16 states have signed gun safety bills that strengthen their current laws since Parkland. 

This continuing 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 seven years ago. In fact, since 2013, over 350 gun safety laws have been enacted in 45 states and the District of Columbia.    

Read the latest edition of Gun Law Trendwatch. 

For additional information or to arrange a time to speak with a gun violence prevention expert, contact Jacques Petit at [email protected]