Posted on April 4, 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
Alabama has modified the existing law that provides property owners with immunity from civil liability for injuring or killing a trespasser in self-defense, so that immunity is provided only if the property owner reacted reasonably to the circumstances.
Arizona now prohibits the Arizona Game and Fish Commission from limiting the magazine capacity of any firearm authorized for use while hunting. Another new Arizona law prohibits gun trafficking for financial gain in furtherance of a criminal street gang, crime syndicate or racketeering.
California enacted a new measure that requires certain courts that issue protective orders to cross-reference state firearm records to determine whether a domestic abuser owns a firearm. If records indicate that a batterer is also a gun owner, law enforcement must request that the firearms be relinquished when serving the protective order. Another new California law prohibits open carrying of unloaded long guns in public places. The measure is a follow up to last year’s legislation that imposed the same restriction on handguns.
A new Connecticut law eliminates the requirement that handgun sellers maintain records of handgun sales in a form prescribed by the state and instead requires records to be kept in accordance with federal firearms dealer record-keeping requirements. The new law also requires that handgun sellers make the records available for inspection by law enforcement.
Delaware has increased restrictions on the disposal of validly seized firearms and ammunition by law enforcement and now allows individuals to file a petition for the return of a weapon or ammunition from a law enforcement agency.
District of Columbia
The District of Columbia has amended various gun laws, and, among other things, now allows persons to temporarily possess a firearm while undergoing firearms training, no longer requires firearm registrants to undergo a background check every six years, repeals its vision test requirement, and moves back the date by which all semi-automatic pistols must be capable of microstamping by one year, to January 1, 2014.
Florida now prohibits possession of firearms or ammunition by the subject of an injunction against stalking, or cyberstalking.
Georgia now requires law enforcement to return firearms that have been used in connection with a crime to the owner if the owner is deemed an “innocent owner” as specified by the statute and if the weapon is no longer needed for evidentiary purposes.
A new law enacted in Hawaii makes it mandatory for law enforcement responding to a domestic violence incident to seize all firearms and ammunition that they have reasonable grounds to believe were used to threaten or commit domestic violence (under current law, seizure is discretionary).
Indiana has declared an official state rifle and enacted a law that allows a person to use force, including in some case deadly force, with no duty to retreat, against a public servant if specified conditions are met.
A new Kansas law allows the state Bureau of Investigation access to expunged criminal records in determining eligibility to possess firearms.
A new Kentucky law expands preemption of local firearms regulation and provides standing to membership organizations to sue local governmentsfor alleged preemption violations. The law requires local governments to pay the challenger’s attorney’s and expert witness fees and other litigation costs if a violation is found. Kentucky has also enacted a law allowing the carrying of concealed weapons without a permit on property the person or the person’s family member owns or leases or with the permission of the owner or lessee of the property. The law also allows carrying a concealed weapon without a permit by the sole proprietor of a business while on property owned or leased by the business. Another new Kentucky law criminalizes fraudulent firearm transactions which occur when a person fraudulently informs a firearms seller that a proposed firearms transaction is legal when it is in fact illegal.
Despite having more per capita gun deaths than any other state in 2009, Louisiana lawmakers have proposed amending the state constitution to provide the most extreme state right to bear arms provision in the country. If voters approve the proposed amendment in November, the state constitution will require any regulation of firearms to meet the highest possible judicial standard—strict scrutiny. Another new Louisiana law clarifies that no local ordinance that prohibits the unlawful carrying of firearms may be stricter than state law.
Louisiana also enacted laws in 2012 that require a full investigation of any death that results from violence or under suspicious circumstances when a claim of self-defense is raised and prohibit the purchase of firearms or ammunition with the intent of transferring such to a felon whether or not the transfer to the felon ever occurs.
A new Maine law requires state agencies to allow employees to store firearms in vehicles in parking areas.
Maryland has strengthened its restrictions on firearm possession by criminals with a new law prohibiting firearm possession by a person convicted of any state or federal offense that, if committed inMaryland, would constitute a crime of violence or other specified violations. Another new Maryland law establishes a task force to study access to handguns and assault weapons by the mentally ill.
Mississippi has repealed a requirement that handgun dealers keep records of all handgun sales. Federal record-keeping laws still apply. In addition, a new Mississippi law authorizes the Department of Public Safety to enter into a reciprocal agreement to recognize the concealed weapon permits of any other state that requires a written agreement for reciprocity. Another new Mississippi law created the felony offense of knowingly deceiving a licensed firearms dealer regarding firearm purchases.
Missouri has amended its firearm safety training requirements for concealed carry permit applicants by validating training completed before August 27, 2011 that met standards required by law at the time.
Nebraska now allows courts to prohibit the possession of firearms as part of an ex parte domestic violence protection order. The state no longer denies concealed carry permits to applicants who have pled guilty or no contest to a felony or misdemeanor crime of violence or been convicted of certain firearms-related crimes. In addition, Nebraska now provides that the criminal justification for use of force which provides no duty to retreat in one’s home or place of work also limits civil liability.
New Hampshire has repealed its prohibition against carrying firearms in state fish and game refuge areas.
New Mexico has removed its requirement that out of state long guns be purchased only from contiguous states.
New York repealed its ballistic handgun identification databank which required handgun manufacturers and dealers to forward sample shell casings to the state police for entry into an automated electronic system.
A new Oklahoma law provides civil immunity from liability to owners, employees, and customers of gun ranges, gun shops and gun clubs for firearms injuries that may occur on the premises. Another new Oklahoma law allows a person to carry a concealed weapon in Oklahoma without a permit if he or she is a resident of a state that does not require a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
A new Oregon law makes concealed carry permit information confidential from the public except under limited circumstances.
South Carolina repealed a number of laws pertaining to handguns including a dealer licensing requirement, a residency requirement for purchasers, and a ban on the sale of junk guns. The new law also removes the requirement that out of state long gun purchases be made only from neighboring states.
Utah now provides that a concealed weapon permit may, instead of must, be suspended if the holder is charged with a crime of violence and has repealed its prohibition against firearm purchase by a person currently under indictment for a felony. Utah’s new law also provides several affirmative defenses for violations of firearms sales laws and criminalizes enticing a dealer to transfer a firearm under circumstances the purchaser knows to be unlawful.
Virginia enacted several bills into law in 2012, most notably, a measure that repealed the restriction against purchase of more than one handgun per 30-day period. In addition, new measures limit local government authority by prohibiting local governments from:
- requiring fingerprints as part of the concealed weapons permit application process;
- requesting information from a concealed weapons permit application that is not required by state law; or
- destroying firearms as part of a gun buyback program without first attempting to transfer the firearms to a dealer.
West Virginia enacted a law clarifying that domestic violence restraining orders must prohibit the subject of the order from firearms possession. Another new law provides additional requirements for persons prohibited from firearm possession due to mental health history when petitioning for relief from disability.
Another new West Virginia law clarifies what constitutes carrying a firearm on the person while in a motor vehicle and amends the criteria for obtaining a concealed weapons permit in several ways including by repealing the requirement that the applicant be physically competent to carry a weapon. The amendments also make permit holders eligible to have the NICS check waived when purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer.
Finally, a new law provides that each year law enforcement agencies with forfeited or abandoned firearms must provide a report describing their efforts to determine if the firearm has been lost or stolen or otherwise unlawfully obtained from an innocent owner or sell the weapon at public auction.
Significant Firearms Legislation Vetoed in 2012
Arizona Governor Janice Brewer vetoed a bill, for the second year in a row, that would have weakened restrictions on carrying a loaded firearm in public buildings and on public property.
California Governor Edmund G. Brown vetoed a bill that would have required the reporting to law enforcement of the loss or theft of a firearm within 48 hours of the time the owner knew or reasonably should have known that it was lost or stolen.
Minnesota’s Governor vetoed a bill that would have created reciprocity with concealed weapons permits from all other states and expanded current stand your ground provisions outside of the home.
The Governor of South Dakota vetoed a bill that would have allowed the carrying of concealed weapons without a permit.