Progress state by state
While there may not be a clear path forward to advance gun safety legislation at the federal level, one thing is clear: Americans are not waiting around for federal action to address gun safety. Lawmakers understand that inaction in the wake of tragedy is no longer acceptable, and state legislatures are responding to the demands of Americans to take action to save lives from gun violence.
Since the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on February 14, states across the country have been identifying concrete steps and passing legislation to protect Americans from gun violence and make our communities safer places to live, work, and play.
Since the tragedy in Parkland we’ve seen:
- 55 gun safety bills have been signed into law in 26 states.
- 8 states (NJ, MD, FL, VT, WA, CT, RI, DE) have passed bills to ban bump stocks.
- 8 states (DE, FL, IL, MA, MD, NJ, RI, VT) have passed extreme risk protection order legislation.
- 9 states (WA, VT, KS, UT, OR, OH, NY, LA, MD) have passed laws to keep guns out of the hands of domestic violence abusers.
- Republican governors in more than 10 states have signed gun safety bills into law (MD, VT, UT, NM, SD, OH, NE, IN, FL, KS).
Recent polling continues to show that voters from across the political spectrum want to see elected officials act to strengthen our gun laws. Americans know that gun violence and gun safety measures are not partisan issues, and statehouses across the country are beginning to agree. Many of the states that have acted are led by Republicans.
Since the Parkland shooting, the states that have signed gun safety bills into law include:
- Florida, a state with a history of recklessly weak gun laws, recently passed a gun safety reform package backed by a Republican legislature that included critical policies, including raising the minimum age to purchase firearms to 21, banning bump stocks, and establishing an extreme risk protection order.
- Maryland further strengthened the state’s gun laws by passing a gun safety package that helps remove guns from dangerous situations, prohibits the purchase and possession of especially lethal devices, and will help address urban gun violence. Signed by the state’s Republican governor, the bill establishes an extreme risk protection orders, removes firearms from domestic abusers, bans bump stocks, and boosts financial support for evidence-based public health programs.
- New York continues to be at the forefront of gun safety legislation, recently strengthening its domestic violence gun laws. Specifically, a new law expands which domestic violence misdemeanors are firearms-prohibiting and extends domestic violence-related firearm restrictions to all guns. It also creates procedures for prohibited people to relinquish their firearms and makes people ineligible for a firearms license and possession when they are the subject of an outstanding warrant for a felony or serious offense.
- Vermont, a state with virtually zero gun laws and high gun ownership enacted a gun safety package with the approval of its Republican governor. The state will now require background checks on most gun sales and allow state law enforcement officials to petition courts for extreme risk protection orders, which temporarily prevent people who pose a demonstrated risk of violence from having access to firearms, among other measures.
- Oregon was the first state to pass a gun safety bill following the Parkland tragedy. It strengthened protections for domestic violence survivors by adding dating partners and stalkers to the list of abusers prohibited from accessing firearms.
- Ohio, a state with historically weak gun laws and a Republican governor, enacted a law that protects survivors of dating violence by allowing them to obtain domestic violence protection orders.
- Utah, another state with a poor track record on gun violence prevention and a Republican-controlled legislature and governor, enacted a law to expand domestic violence protective orders to include dating relationships. The new law also requires that law enforcement officers responding to an allegation of stalking or dating violence use all reasonable means to protect the victim and prevent further violence, including confiscating any weapons involved in the alleged incidents.
- Washington state passed several new laws since Parkland, prohibiting trigger modification devices like bump stocks and adding domestic violence harassment to the list of offenses that prohibit a person from possessing a firearm.
Building on Success
This new wave of gun safety activity and engagement builds on efforts from last year’s legislative session, when state legislators passed 16 lifesaving policies, including strengthening background checks and closing domestic violence loopholes. In 2017, 13 states also rejected measures to allow guns on campus, and legislators in 20 states defeated measures to allow people to carry loaded, concealed firearms in public without a permit.
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 five years ago. In fact, since 2013, nearly 230 gun laws that make communities safer have been enacted in 45 states and the District of Columbia.