New Gun Legislation

Victory in California: Governor Brown Signs Two New Gun Safety Bills

Posted on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

SONY DSCOn Friday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed two important gun safety bills into law, one that will close a large loophole in California’s “Unsafe Handgun” law and another that will speed up court communication with law enforcement regarding mental health records.

AB 1964: Closing a Dangerous Loophole

California’s “Unsafe Handgun” law, on the books since 1999, requires handguns sold in the state to first pass standard safety testing and be equipped with basic safety features, such as loaded chamber indicators, which are designed to help prevent accidental shootings. A loophole in this law allowed single-shot handguns to completely bypass these safety requirements. After being sold, these single-shot handguns could be easily modified back into their fully-functional, semiautomatic form, creating a dangerous and frequently exploited situation. Last year alone, 18,000 single-shot handguns were sold in California.

AB 1964 closes this loophole and will ensure that the “Unsafe Handgun” law truly covers all handguns. This will keep dangerous junk guns off the streets and ensure that every handgun sold in the state complies with California’s rigorous safety standards.

AB 1591: Speeding Up Communication between Courts and the CA Department of Justice

Under current law, when a court takes an action that would prohibit a person from possessing a firearm because of mental health—such as a finding that the person is mentally incompetent to stand trial—that action must be reported to the California Department of Justice within two court days. The reported information is critical in helping to ensure that firearms are not acquired by individuals who might pose a danger to themselves or others. AB 1591 speeds up communication between courts and the CA Department of Justice by requiring that this important data is reported as quickly as possible, within one court day.

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is confident both of these laws will reduce gun violence in our state and we applaud the Governor and the Legislature for taking steps to keep Californians safe. For more information on pending gun safety legislation in California, including SB 53, the Law Center’s priority bill for 2014 which would regulate ammunition sales, see our update on California Legislation. For a full description of existing laws to reduce gun violence in California, visit our summary of California gun laws.

2014 California Firearms Legislation: Governor Signs Two Bills to Strengthen California’s Gun Laws

Posted on Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

CA State Capitol Building

The Law Center is tracking numerous gun violence prevention measures that are under consideration by the California Legislature.  Most recently, two bills, AB 1964 and AB 1591, were signed into law by Governor Brown.   Ten bills are still pending that would strengthen the state’s gun laws and improve public safety.  Four bills introduced to weaken the state’s gun laws were defeated earlier this year.

For more information on the status of bills in other states, visit our 2014 summary of gun bills nationwide. For the full description of existing laws to reduce gun violence in California, visit our summary of California gun laws. The complete text of each bill can be found here.

bills-signed-into-law

AB 1964 (Dickenson): Closing the “Single-Shot Exemption” Loophole –  California law requires that all semiautomatic handgun models sold in the state be certified as not unsafe by the Department of Justice after meeting certain required safety standards.  Prior law included an exception for so-called “single shot” pistols that could be temporarily modified to not fire on a semiautomatic basis in order to circumvent California’s safety standards.  AB 1964 closes that loophole by clarifying that the unsafe handgun law applies to semiautomatic pistols that have been temporarily or permanently altered so that they will not fire in a semiautomatic mode.

Status: This bill was signed by the Governor on July 18, 2014.

AB 1591 (Archadjian):  Court Notifications – Under current law, courts are required to notify the California Department of Justice if they make a determination about a person’s mental state which would prohibit him or her from possessing a gun under California law.  AB 1591 will speed up this process by requiring such notifications to be made within one court day.

Status: This bill was signed by the Governor on July 18, 2014.

Bills Signed Into Law

SB 53 (De Leon): Ammunition Purchase Permitting – SB 53—the Law Center’s priority bill for 2014—would require ammunition sellers to be licensed by the California Department of Justice (“DOJ”). The bill would also require that every ammunition purchaser hold an ammunition purchase authorization issued by DOJ after it conducted a background check on the purchaser. In completing an ammunition sale, a vendor would be required to confirm that every purchaser has a valid ammunition authorization, record identifying information about the purchaser, and submit that information to DOJ. The bill would also require ammunition sales to be completed in face-to-face transactions. This provision would allow online purchases of ammunition so long as the ammunition purchased was shipped to a licensed ammunition seller to complete the transaction.

Status: This bill passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee on June 10, and is currently on the Assembly floor. 

READ MORE »

Tracking State Gun Laws: 2014 Developments

Posted on Friday, May 2nd, 2014

tracking-header

In April of this year, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed HB 60, a bill which expands the ability to carry firearms in public spaces such as bars and airports. The media was quick to report that this bill is evidence of a backlash against the many significant gun violence prevention laws enacted in the states last year, despite the media’s predominant narrative from last year that, after Newtown, more states weakened gun laws and the gun lobby “won”. The truth is that the recent media narratives are far from accurate.

Since Newtown, about the same number of laws (64) have strengthened state gun regulations as those that have weakened them (70), not including 38 newly-enacted gun laws that have a minimal impact on gun violence. However, a strict comparison of these numbers without deeper insight into the substance of the laws and where they were enacted is only half the story. Of the states that enacted laws to strengthen gun regulation, 8 states made very significant and, in some cases, sweeping changes to the way it regulates firearms. Alternatively, only 4 states enacted laws that have significantly weakened gun regulation.

Despite popular belief, in the last sixteen months since Newtown, the media has incorrectly portrayed the complicated and nuanced activity in fifty different state legislative bodies. The new laws have been tallied, and often, have been inappropriately equalized. Small bills which keep concealed weapons permit holders’ information private have been categorized as having equal weight to sweeping new laws that require background checks and ban assault weapons. The stories proclaiming the Georgia bill to be a pro-gun backlash make little of the fact that it was the NRA’s top priority in Georgia for two years and, after failing last year, barely scraped by this year and only in a watered-down version. The backlash stories also fail to mention the groundswell of activism that rose in opposition to the bill and succeeded in forcing the gun lobby to strip provision after provision from the measure.

The Law Center has tracked state firearms laws in all fifty states since 2009. Above is a map outlining the breadth of laws that have passed since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. Our analysis of legislative trends is based on watching and analyzing all gun legislation as it moves through state houses. The data shows us that the public’s mobilization after Newtown resulted in real and sustained change in legislative outcomes, as our team tracks new laws to strengthen gun policy come to unexpected states like South Carolina and Florida while an enormous number of bills to weaken state gun laws get watered down and end without progress.

In addition, a Mother Jones analysis comparing the population of states where gun laws were strengthened to states where they were weakened concluded that more than half of the country lives in states with stronger gun laws since Newtown.

More important than the numbers, or even the context surrounding the numbers, are the real people who have dedicated their lives to changing our nation’s gun laws since Newtown. New organizations such as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Americans for Responsible Solutions, Sandy Hook Promise, and Texas Gun Sense and many, many more have formed in just the last sixteen months. Real change happens when real people take action. The story after Newtown is that in every state people are making their voices heard, fighting to strengthen firearms laws, and opposing the gun lobby’s profit-driven efforts. This part of the story is only just beginning and real change will be measured in the lives that are saved.

policytrends

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, there is no doubt that public support for sensible gun laws has soared. Many legislators are following the lead of the people and fighting for strong new policies to fill the gaps in gun regulation left by Congress. READ MORE »

Developing Trend in Gun Legislation: The Trayvon Martin Exception to Stand Your Ground Laws

Posted on Friday, February 7th, 2014

tallahassee-protest-dream-defenders-justice-lights-smaller

Yesterday jury selection began in the murder trial of Michael Dunn who shot and killed 17-year-old Jordan Davis. Witnesses say Dunn became enraged at Davis for playing music too loudly and provoked a confrontation that resulted in Dunn shooting and killing the unarmed teenager.

Dunn will likely base his defense on Florida’s stand your ground law—better described as a “shoot first” law—that allows someone to use deadly force outside the home if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm. Florida’s law, as well as similar laws in several other states, does not require that the person using force retreat to a place of safety, if possible, before using force.

Eight months before Jordan Davis was killed, George Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager walking to his father’s girlfriend’s house. By now, most of us know the story. Although Florida’s shoot first law was not incorporated into George Zimmerman’s defense, the court had instructed the jury on Florida’s controversial law and one of the jurors subsequently stated that the jury had found the law applicable to Zimmerman.

Again, a few weeks ago, yet another person behaving lawfully in public was shot and killed. Chad Oulson, who was texting his 3-year-old daughter’s caretaker during movie previews, angered Curtis Reeves, an armed, retired police officer. Reeves began to argue with Oulson. A confrontation ensued and Reeves shot and killed Oulson. Reeves is expected to also claim self-defense using Florida’s shoot first law.

A 17-year-old playing music in a car. A 16-year-old walking to see his father.  A father texting the babysitter during movie previews. These are only a fraction of the victims. These tragic events also demonstrate how shoot first laws continue to threaten public safety by encouraging people to take the law into their own hands and act as armed vigilantes, often with deadly consequences. The strongest of these laws also have a profound impact on the criminal and civil justice systems, tying the hands of law enforcement and depriving victims of remedies by providing blanket immunity from criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits to individuals who claim they were acting in self-defense.

Many states have had enough of this bloodshed and lawmakers have introduced legislation to repeal or limit the use of shoot first laws. Most notably, Alabama has introduced the “Trayvon Martin exception” as an amendment to its current shoot first law. The new legislation aims to protect innocent victims like Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, and Chad Oulson. The bill would prohibit use of the self-defense claim if a shooter pursued the victim who was behaving lawfully in a public place and the pursuit resulted in a deadly confrontation. READ MORE »

2013 State Scorecard: Why Gun Laws Matter

Posted on Monday, December 9th, 2013

HEADERGLM

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is proud to partner with the Brady Campaign to release our 2013 State Scorecard: Why Gun Laws Matter. This collaborative report empowers us all by putting the Law Center’s in-depth research on America’s gun laws into the hands of the advocates across the nation so they can continue to fight for effective gun policies in their communities.

Download the full 2013 State Scorecard: Why Gun Laws Matter here.

Since Newtown, so much has changed. The slaughter of innocent children at Sandy Hook Elementary School sent shockwaves through the nation and ignited a passionate call for our leaders to take steps to prevent gun violence. When Congress failed to pass any new gun violence prevention legislation in 2013, including the overwhelmingly popular legislation to expand background checks, state legislatures answered the call.

Starting last January, legislators in state houses across the country began introducing a record number of bills to strengthen gun laws. Even states with historically weak gun laws, like Florida, Missouri, and Texas, took action towards sensible gun legislation. In fact, twenty-one states enacted new laws to curb gun violence in their communities, with eight of these states passing major reforms—far eclipsing the corporate gun lobby’s limited success in state legislatures in 2013.

Click on each state’s initials in the map below to see our analysis of the gun laws in that state.

state-gun-laws-map

The 2013 Law Center & Brady Campaign State Gun Laws Scorecard1

To view a larger version of this map, click here.

Gun laws really do matter. State gun laws fill enormous gaps that exist in our nation’s federal laws, and help to reduce gun violence and keep citizens safe. In part because these laws help to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and aid law enforcement in solving gun crimes, many of the states with the strongest gun laws also have the lowest gun death rates.

READ MORE »

  1. The combined expertise of the Law Center and Brady Campaign informed our grading system. Only states that have enacted several significant firearms laws received enough points to receive a grade in the A range. The states in the B and C ranges have enacted fewer laws, but do have some important gun safety measures on the books. The D states have only a small handful of firearms regulation while the F states have enacted little to no firearms regulation and, in many cases, have lost points for irresponsible gun laws. []

Tracking State Gun Laws: 2013 California Firearms Legislation

Posted on Thursday, October 17th, 2013

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is proud of the unprecedented progress California made in improving its already strong firearms safety laws in 2013. In response to the Newtown school shooting and other incidents of gun violence that devastate our communities every day, California legislators passed a historic number of bills to help prevent gun-related deaths and injuries in California, and Governor Brown signed 10 of those bills. The 17 bills described briefly below are all the 2013 firearms bills the Law Center supported that were passed by the legislature and either signed or vetoed by the governor.

For a more complete summary of each bill, and other firearms-related legislation introduced in 2013, please download our complete analysis of all firearms related bills introduced this year.

For more information about the legislative process in California, see this overview of the legislative process or the publication California’s Legislature.

bills-signed-into-law

AB 500 (Ammiano): Storage of Firearms in Homes with Prohibited Persons, Waiting Period Extension and Firearm Transfer Notifications

AB 500 requires any gun owner residing with a person who is prohibited from owning firearms under state or federal law to either: 1) keep the firearm within a locked container, locked gun safe, locked trunk, locked with a locking device, or disabled by a firearm safety device; or 2) carry the firearm on his or her person.

AB 500 also clarifies that the ten-day waiting period between the sale of a firearm and its transfer to the purchaser may be extended an additional 30 days if the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) is unable to determine the outcome of a mental health evaluation, unable to interpret arrest or criminal charge records, or unable to determine whether the purchaser is attempting to purchase a second handgun in a 30-day period in violation of California law, prior to the end of the waiting period.

AB 48 (Skinner): Strengthening Large Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban

AB 48 prohibits the use of “conversion kits” to manufacture large capacity ammunition magazines. It also prohibits the purchase of large capacity ammunition magazines and tightens the definition of “manufacture” in the current law to clarify that manufacturing includes assembling the parts of a magazine.

READ MORE »

2012 California Firearms Legislation Summary

Posted on Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Updated September 5, 2012

The Law Center monitors all firearm-related bills introduced in the California Legislature each year. The analysis below highlights and summarizes significant legislation considered by the legislature in 2012.

A dozen significant gun bills have been considered by the legislature this year, including SB 1366, co-sponsored by the Law Center. SB 1366, which is currently before the governor, would help law enforcement solve and prevent gun crimes by requiring firearm owners to report lost or stolen weapons. Three other bills to strengthen California’s gun laws are on the governor’s desk:

  • AB 1527, prohibiting the open carry of unloaded rifles and shotguns;
  • SB 1433, improving the process for getting guns out of the hands of domestic abusers; and
  • AB 2460, removing a loophole in the state’s ban on unsafe handguns.

Additionally, a number of bills to weaken California’s gun laws were defeated earlier this year.

Our California law summary contains information about the state’s existing firearms laws.
READ MORE »

Major Activity in State Firearms Legislation in 2012

Posted on Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Updated October 23, 2012

The map below identifies firearms-related bills that have been enacted into law or vetoed in 2012. Red icons indicate action that weakens gun violence prevention efforts and green icons represent action that strengthens these efforts. Pushpins indicate where a measure was adopted by a state legislature but vetoed by the state’s governor.

Click on each icon to find out more information about each bill. Below the map, there is a state-by-state summary of all of the significant bills adopted or vetoed so far in 2012. This page and map will be regularly updated over the course of the year.

The information on this page supplements the Law Center’s state law summaries, as well as our prior summaries of state firearms laws adopted in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

View Major Activity in State Legislation 2012 in a larger map

Significant Firearms Legislation Adopted in 2012

READ MORE »

2011 Developments in Federal & State Law by Firearms Policy

Posted on Monday, December 19th, 2011

Updated December 19, 2011

The information on this page supplements the material provided in our firearms policy summaries.

Carrying Firearms

Arizona: A new Arizona law reduces oversight of firearm training programs by the state and allows applicants for concealed weapon permits (which are optional in Arizona) to obtain instruction from NRA-certified instructors that have not been approved by the Department of Public Safety.

Arkansas: Arkansas recently enacted a law that restricts concealed weapons in certain restaurants such as restaurants in convention centers and hotels. The law also broadens the grounds for denying a concealed weapon permit applicant based on a likelihood of danger to self or others. Finally, the new law eliminates the requirement that a permit holder report to state police the loss or other disposition of his or her handgun.

California: A new California law prohibits the open carrying of unloaded handguns in public places statewide.

Delaware: Delaware has made it a crime to possess a firearm while in a public place while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Florida: Florida now allows concealed weapon permit holders to “briefly” carry firearms openlyAnother Florida law renders permanent a temporary provision making concealed carry records confidential.

Indiana: A newly enacted Indiana law allows job applicants and current employees to sue any public or private employer for requiring them to disclose information about firearms ownership or use. The law allows courts to award actual and punitive damages. Indiana also enacted a law in 2011 that allows the carrying of a concealed weapon without a permit on land the person owns or that is owned by another person who has given his or her consent.

READ MORE »

2011 Developments in State Firearms Laws by State

Posted on Monday, December 19th, 2011

Updated December 19, 2011

The information on this page supplements the Law Center’s state law summaries.

Alabama

A new Alabama law makes straw purchasing and other fraudulent transfers a state crime.

Arizona

A new Arizona law reduces oversight of firearm training programs by the state and allows applicants for concealed weapon permits (which are optional in Arizona) to obtain instruction from NRA-certified instructors that have not been approved by the Department of Public Safety.

Arizona has enacted a law naming an official state gun.

Arkansas

Arkansas recently enacted a law that restricts concealed weapons in certain restaurants such as restaurants in convention centers and hotels. The law also broadens the grounds for denying a concealed weapon permit applicant based on a likelihood of danger to self or others. Finally, the new law eliminates the requirement that a permit holder report to state police the loss or other disposition of his or her handgun.

Another new Arkansas law authorizes criminal courts to issue a no contact order, which may include a prohibition against firearms possession, to a defendant in a criminal proceeding if it appears that a danger exists that the defendant will commit a serious crime, seek to intimidate a witness, or otherwise unlawfully interfere with the orderly administration of justice.

California

California enacted several significant firearms laws in 2011. First, a new record-keeping requirement will help law enforcement solve and prevent gun crimes by requiring the California Department of Justice to retain copies of sales records for rifles and shotguns, as it already does for handguns. A second law will prohibit the open carrying of unloaded handguns in public places statewide. A third law will enable the state Department of Justice to use firearm sales fees to fund programs to disarm convicted criminals and the mentally ill.

READ MORE »