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2022 YEAR-END TRENDWATCH REPORT: Progress on Gun Safety Amid Spiking Gun Violence

Courageous Legislators in 20 States and DC Responded by Passing 89 Strong Bills

Washington DC Today, Giffords Law Center, the legal arm of the gun violence prevention organization led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, released a report analyzing the state-level progress on gun safety legislation in 2022. The report focuses on the lifesaving work done by 20 states and Washington DC in 2022, including meaningful investments in community violence intervention and protecting areas sensitive to the exercise of democracy—like polling sites and government buildings—from armed intimidation.

“2022 was a watershed year for gun safety. Many states passed strong and effective gun safety policies this year and the first major federal gun safety bill that our country has seen in nearly 30 years—the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act—was signed,” said Giffords Law Center Senior Counsel and Local Policy Director Allison Anderman. “Despite these advancements, we can’t lose sight of the dangerous strides that extremists across the country are making. Four states repealed laws requiring a background check and permit to carry hidden, loaded guns in public. Polling shows that this isn’t what the vast majority of Americans want. After the horrific and preventable tragedies this year, including in Buffalo, Uvalde, and Highland Park, Americans have reiterated their demands for commonsense gun laws. This year-end edition of Trendwatch indicates that while there is hope for a safer future, there is much more that still needs to be done.”

Twenty states and Washington DC passed 89 strong bills, bringing the total number of significant gun safety laws passed since the massacre in Parkland in 2018 to 277. States have passed more than 525 gun safety laws since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012.

Despite the progress made, extremist legislators in a number of states continue to roll back commonsense gun safety laws against the will of their constituents. In June, a conservative supermajority on the Supreme Court overturned a New York State law, finding that there is a constitutional right to carry a handgun outside the home for self-defense and empowering state lawmakers to invalidate longstanding gun safety laws. The opinion in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen directly affected states that comprise 25% of the US population. Studies show that weakening concealed carry laws, as the Bruen decision requires, leads to significant increases in violent crime. Within three weeks of the ruling, Maryland saw a 110% increase in applications for concealed carry permits. This year, gun extremists passed fewer bills than expected thanks to the efforts of advocates and courageous lawmakers, but many reckless and dangerous bills were still enacted into law. 

Examples of 2022 gun safety victories include:

Background Checks: Five states improved background checks by requiring law enforcement to be notified when a person fails a background check (Connecticut HB 5417 and California AB 2551), having a state agency conduct a background check instead of just the FBI (Delaware HB 423 and New York SB 1), requiring the purchaser to get a permit to purchase from local law enforcement (Oregon Ballot Measure 114), and prohibiting a gun from being transferred before a background check clears (Oregon Ballot Measure 14 and Vermont SB 4).

Community Violence Intervention (CVI) Programming: Fourteen states and the District of Columbia made meaningful investments in community violence intervention strategies or improved existing efforts. These include California (AB 2697, AB 200, AB 1929, and SB 154), Colorado (HB 1329 and SB 145), Connecticut (HB 5506), Illinois (HB 900), Massachusetts (HB 5050, HB 5374, and SB 3097), Maryland (HB 1005, SB 290, and SB 350), Michigan (HB 5783), New Mexico (HB 2 and HB 68), New York (SB 8000, SB 8003, and SB 8004), Oregon (HB 4045 and HB 5202), Pennsylvania (SB 1100 and HB 1421), Rhode Island (HB 7123), Virginia (HB 29 and HB 30), Washington (SB 5693), and the District of Columbia (B 716).

Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs): Six states strengthened or expanded existing ERPO laws or enacted policies to improve their implementation, including California (AB 2870), Massachusetts (HB 5374 and SB 3097), New Jersey (AB 3687), New York (SB 9113), Vermont (SB 4), and Washington (HB 1901).

Ghost Guns: Five states and the District of Columbia enacted laws regulating ghost guns or improved the effectiveness of their ghost gun policies, including California (AB 2552, AB 1621, AB 2156, and SB 1327), Delaware (SB 8), Illinois (HB 4383), Maryland (HB 425/SB 387), Washington (HB 1705), and District of Columbia (B 506).

Sensitive Locations and Democracy Protection: Five states enacted policies to keep guns out of sensitive locations. Vermont (SB 4) prohibited guns in hospitals and New York (SB 1) prohibited guns in areas where children are likely to be present, among other places. Colorado (HB 1086), New York (SB 1), and Washington (HB 1630) prohibited guns in certain areas sensitive to the exercise of democracy such as polling places, school board meetings, demonstrations, and places where votes are being tabulated.

Gun extremists made their states less safe in a number of ways in 2022, including:

Banning Law Enforcement from Enforcing Federal Gun Laws: Wyoming (SB 102) made law enforcement officers liable for civil and criminal penalties for enforcing federal gun laws. Alabama (SB 2) prohibited localities from using public funding to enforce, and prohibit police from enforcing, federal executive orders related to gun safety. New Hampshire (HB 1178) prohibited public employees from using any personnel or financial resources to enforce gun laws.

Expanding Permitless and Concealed Carry: Four states repealed laws requiring a background check and permit to carry hidden, loaded guns in public, including Alabama (HB 272), Georgia (SB 319), Indiana (HB 1296), and Ohio (SB 215). Georgia (HB 218) allows anyone with a permit from another state to carry in Georgia.

Allowing Guns in Schools: Alabama (HB 272) required colleges and universities to allow guns in vehicles on their campuses. Ohio (HB 99) allowed teachers to carry guns in K–12 schools.

Approximately 40,000 American lives are lost each year—over the course of our lifetimes, we will all know a victim of gun violence. Rather than accept the status quo, we must respond to these devastating statistics with federal legislation. Read the latest edition of Gun Law Trendwatch


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