Giffords Law Center Gun Law Trendwatch: March 15, 2022
A Roundup and Analysis of the Latest State Firearm Legislation
The Radicalization of Ohio Lawmakers
Every other week during the state legislative cycle, Gun Law Trendwatch breaks down trends in the gun violence prevention universe. We take an in-depth look at a topic of particular interest to legislators and advocates—this week it’s the increasing radicalization of the Ohio legislature—and provide updates on significant gun safety and gun lobby bills as they move through state legislatures.
State of the States
Ohio Has Grown Increasingly Radicalized on Guns, but This Extremism Is Not Inevitable
In the early 2000s, an individual in Toledo, Ohio, wanted to carry his gun in a public park and challenged a law prohibiting him from doing so. The law was upheld in 2005 by an appellate court.
The following year, the Republican-controlled legislature used the court decision to justify a bill that would prevent local governments from enacting gun safety laws, a tactic known as preemption. The governor, also a Republican, vetoed the measure, calling it an overcorrection. Republicans overrode the veto to enact the law.
Over the past 15 years, the Ohio legislature has grown increasingly radicalized on guns. The state’s preemption law has been used to defeat efforts in many cities to ban trigger activators (like the bump stock used in the catastrophic Las Vegas shooting in 2018) and assault weapons, and to prevent other local gun safety laws. Between 2011 and 2015, Ohio made it easier for more people to carry guns in public. In 2017, lawmakers expanded the ability of individuals and groups to sue localities that try to prevent gun violence.
Jul 28, 2020
Last year, the state passed a Stand Your Ground law that allows a person to use deadly force even if they could retreat from the conflict safely. Stand Your Ground laws have been shown to significantly increase gun homicide rates, and are disproportionately used to justify the murders of Black Americans.
In 2022, lawmakers are poised to enact another extreme law (SB 215) that will allow untrained people who have not been subject to a background check to carry hidden, loaded guns in public without a permit. Charmaine McGuffey, the sheriff of Hamilton County, Ohio, has stated that requiring a permit to carry in public helps officers know if a person is legally allowed, and trained, to carry a firearm. Under existing law, a permit applicant must pass a background check and take a 10-hour firearms safety course that includes at least two hours of range time and live-fire training. This bill would eliminate those requirements.
A separate bill (HB 227) would also repeal a requirement that a person inform police officers that they are carrying a firearm if stopped. The combination of these two bills creates serious risk for law enforcement officers who are working to keep illegal guns off the streets.
Finally, lawmakers in Ohio have introduced a bill (HB 62) that would declare nearly all federal gun laws unenforceable in the state and make a law enforcement officer who enforces such a law permanently ineligible to serve as a state or local police officer.
Most Ohioans are not gun extremists—polling in 2020 found that over 60% of Ohioans oppose laws like SB 215 that repeal permit-to-carry requirements. Yet they’re living in a state that is becoming more and more radicalized when it comes to guns, and they’re paying the price: states with Stand Your Ground laws and weak concealed carry laws have significantly higher rates of violent crime and handgun homicides.
The continuing radicalization of guns in Ohio is not inevitable. Ohioans can reject this extremism by making it a priority to vote out people who put the gun lobby over safety.
JOIN THE FIGHT
Gun violence costs our nation 40,000 lives each year. We can’t sit back as politicians fail to act tragedy after tragedy. Giffords Law Center brings the fight to save lives to communities, statehouses, and courts across the country—will you stand with us?
Gun Safety Spotlight
Progress in the Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest states of Washington and Oregon have been steadily making lifesaving progress over the past several years, passing background checks, extreme risk protection orders, laws that keep guns out of the hands of people who commit domestic abuse, child access prevention laws, and more. This momentum has remained consistent and, in 2022, both states have sent bills to their governors that will advance gun safety.
Giffords Applauds Oregon Legislature for Passing Historic Bipartisan Community Violence Prevention Investments
Mar 10, 2022
Washington is expanding its efforts to address the surge of ghost guns—homemade, undetectable, and untraceable firearms—plaguing communities. HB 1705 will ban the sale and possession of ghost guns and prohibit the possession of unfinished frames and receivers that have not been serialized by a federally licensed importer or manufacturer. Governor Jay Inslee is also expected to sign a bill, SB 5078, that will limit magazine capacity to no more than 10 rounds.
In neighboring Oregon, lawmakers have sent two bills to Governor Brown that would make significant investments in community violence reduction. The state’s budget bill (HB 5202) allocates $15 million of federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to go towards community violence intervention grants and $11.25 million to supplement federal Victims of Crime Act grants to support survivors of violent crimes. Separately, HB 4045 will allow Medicaid funding to be used to support hospital-based violence intervention programs. The governor has indicated support for both measures.
Previously known for rain, beautiful coastline, and artisanal coffee, the Pacific Northwest is also becoming known for its dedication to reducing deaths and injuries from gun violence.
Gun Lobby Extremism
Will Governor Evers Be the Defender Wisconsinites Need?
Wisconsin, a state that earned a C- on Giffords Law Center’s Gun Law Scorecard and ranked among the 15 states with the highest gun death rates in the nation in 2020, is steadily moving bills through the legislature that would weaken its gun laws and put its residents at even greater risk of gun violence.
Feb 17, 2022
AB 495, which is currently awaiting signature from the governor, would also weaken concealed carry laws by allowing individuals with permits to keep guns in their vehicles on the campuses of K–12 schools. Guns do not belong in schools, and easy access to them increases the risk of gun violence. Furthermore, allowing parents to bring guns to and from school while transporting students makes it more likely that a child or teen will find and use that gun.
Wisconsin lawmakers also sent a bill to Governor Evers that will shield the gun industry from civil lawsuits intended to hold them accountable for their reckless conduct. SB 570 mirrors a federal law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), that does the same.
Wisconsin’s gun laws have a lot of room for improvement, but they’re still better than those in the majority of states. These bills represent a shift in the wrong direction for Wisconsin. Governor Evers must defend his residents’ safety by vetoing this reckless legislation.
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Bills in Motion
In the first few weeks of 2022, courageous state legislators have introduced bills to strengthen background check requirements, fund proven community violence intervention programs, improve domestic violence prohibitions, and regulate or prohibit ghost guns in 32 states. Meanwhile, the gun lobby continues to push its dangerous guns in schools and permitless carry bills in over a dozen states. We’re committed to helping state legislatures enact laws that will make our communities safer and push back against harmful gun lobby legislation.
Gun Safety Bills
- BACKGROUND CHECKS: At least nine states have bills pending that would require all gun buyers to be subject to background checks, or would strengthen existing background check laws.
- COMMUNITY VIOLENCE: Massachusetts HB 4269 was enacted. New Mexico HB 2 and HB 68 were enacted. California AB 1929 has a hearing on 4/5. Connecticut HB 5399 is scheduled for a hearing on 3/11 and SB 16 has a hearing on 3/14. Illinois HB 3057 and HB 5336 have hearings on 3/16. Tennessee SB 1773 has hearings on 3/15 and 3/16. Oregon HB 4045 and HB 5202 have been sent to the governor. Virginia HB 30 and HB 833 have passed both chambers and are in concurrence. At least 19 states have bills pending that relate to the allocation, protection, or administration of funding for evidence-based violence prevention programs.
- DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Connecticut SB 16 is scheduled for a hearing on 3/14. Iowa HB 825 passed its chamber of origin and a committee. Legislation to strengthen domestic violence laws is pending in at least 17 states.
- GHOST GUNS: Connecticut SB 16 is scheduled for a hearing on 3/14. Maryland HB 425 passed a committee. Washington HB 1705 has been sent to the governor. Bills that would regulate or prohibit untraceable firearms are pending in at least nine states and the District of Columbia
Gun Lobby Bills
- GUNS IN SCHOOLS: Tennessee HB 2554 has a hearing on 3/15. Arizona HB 2414 has passed two senate committees and HB 2448 passed its chamber of origin and a senate committee. Missouri HB 1481 passed its chamber of origin. Wisconsin AB 495 has been sent to the governor. Dangerous bills to allow guns in school or on campus are pending in at least 12 states.
- PERMITLESS CARRY: Alabama HB 272 was enacted. Nebraska LB 773 has passed a committee and has a hearing on 3/4. Georgia HB 1358 has passed a committee and SB 319 has passed its chamber of origin. Ohio SB 215 is on the governor’s desk. There are reckless permitless carry bills pending in at least 10 states.
- STAND YOUR GROUND: Connecticut HB 5412 and SB 388 have hearings on 3/14. Arizona SB 1650 passed a committee. Missouri HB 2118 passed a committee. Ohio SB 215 is eligible for the governor. Bills that make it easy to use deadly force in public and evade justice are pending in at least 12 states.
- LIABILITY FOR ENFORCING GUN LAWS: Alabama SB 2 has passed a committee. Wyoming SB 102 has been sent to the governor. Bills that would make law enforcement officers or other state and local government officials personally liable for enforcing federal gun laws are pending in at least eight states.
HERE TO HELP
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