Gun Control Moves to the States

The United States hasn’t passed significant national gun laws in more than a decade, and despite urging from President Obama and other lawmakers, there’s little sign we’re close to new legislation. A large part of this has to do with the continued influence of the National Rifle Association, which has announced its complete opposition to new gun control laws. As The Washington Post reports, the NRA is now opposed to universal background checks—which it formerly supported—and as well as bans on “straw purchases," which is when someone with a clean record buys a gun for someone who can’t pass a background check. What’s more, later this morning, the NRA will unveil its proposal for putting armed guards in more schools, illustrating the extent to which its position is more guns, everywhere.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t good news on the gun-control front. While Congress remains paralyzed by the grasp of the NRA, various state legislatures have made moves to strengthen their own gun laws. This morning, for example, a bipartisan panel of Connecticut lawmakers announced its proposal for new gun regulations. Here’s CNN with more:

The draft legislation would add more than 100 types of guns to the state’s list of banned assault weapons; limit the capacity of ammunition magazines to 10 rounds; ban armor-piercing bullets; require background checks for all weapon sales, including at gun shows; establish safety standards for school buildings; allow mental health training for teachers; and expand mental health research in the state.

“Nobody will be able to say that this bill is absolutely perfect, but no one will also be able to say that this bill fails the test when it comes to being the strongest in the country and the most comprehensive bill in the country,” Connecticut Senate President Don Williams, a Democrat and a member of the task force, said Monday.

Likewise, the Maryland House of Delegates is close to approving a new package of gun laws that would ban certain assault weapons, require that handgun purchasers register with the police, limit the size of ammunition magazines to ten rounds, require reporting for lost or stolen guns, and bar those who receive probation from purchasing guns. The Baltimore Sun is enthusiastic about the legislation:

The registration requirement will make it more difficult for criminals to get guns. The expanded prohibitions on the ownership of firearms by those who suffer from mental illness and improved sharing of information about mental health between state and federal agencies will prevent suicides. And while it offers no guarantees, the assault weapons ban and magazine limit at least diminish the odds that Maryland will ever experience something so horrific as the Newtown massacre.

Momentum for gun control has all but shifted to the states. Whether that will eventually influence the federal government, is—of course—an open question.