NEW YORK – With 39 state legislatures having adjourned their regular sessions for the year, Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America today released a report showing that gun safety policies are prevailing in states across the country despite a challenging political environment in which the gun lobby has a literal seat at the table in the White House and holds a strong grip on many statehouses and governorships. As reported by Politico, these victories are taking place even as the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda has failed to move in Congress.
Volunteers with Moms Demand Action and Everytown, in partnership with local and national gun violence prevention organizations, have effectively helped pass life-saving laws in red, blue and purple states and have defeated the gun lobby’s dangerous “guns everywhere” agenda including permitless carry, guns on campus and guns in K-12 schools. These victories have been powered by a grassroots army of volunteers and survivors with a Moms Demand Action chapter in all 50 states and by strategic investments in state legislative work.
“The NRA’s leadership is on its heels in statehouses,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “In state capitols across the country, Republican and Democratic lawmakers are working together to pass laws that will save American lives. Everytown advocates and Moms Demand Action volunteers are defeating the NRA leadership’s ‘guns everywhere’ agenda because vast majorities of Americans support gun safety.”
“When you look at what’s happening in statehouses across the country, the gun safety movement is winning in state after state — even in this challenging political environment — because volunteers and gun violence survivors have become the counterweight to the gun lobby,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, a part of Everytown. “This first-ever grassroots army of gun violence prevention volunteers is defeating dangerous proposals like permitless carry and guns in schools, and helping to pass life-saving measures to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.”
With most statehouses closed for the year, the gun safety victories include:
Bipartisan Wins to Keep Guns Away from Domestic Abusers
This session Republicans and Democrats found common ground on an issue vitally important to public safety: Keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Research has repeatedly shown that there is a lethal link between domestic violence and gun violence in America. The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely a woman will die.
Since the start of 2013, a total of 23 states have strengthened existing laws or passed new ones to help keep guns away from domestic abusers. In 2017 alone, six states have already enacted this type of legislation, almost all of them led by Republican governors: Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota,Tennessee and Utah.
Giving Law Enforcement the Information Necessary to Do Its Jobs
Just weeks ago, Hawaii’s governor signed a law that requires law enforcement to be notified when a person who is not allowed to have guns tries to buy one and fails the background check. Lying on a background check form is a crime, but all too often information about failed background checks is not shared with law enforcement. The new Hawaii law will give law enforcement the ability to investigate prohibited people who are illegally attempting to purchase weapons before they have a chance to buy a gun elsewhere and hurt someone.
At the urging of gun violence survivors and Moms Demand Action volunteers, Washington State passed similar legislation and the governor signed it in May.
And last year, Tennessee – a red state with a legislature that was ranked the country’s most conservative for two years in a row – passed similar bipartisan legislation that was signed by its Republican governor.
Losses for the Gun Lobby are Piling Up
Beyond racking up legislative wins, the gun safety movement continues to play effective defense and has defeated numerous bills that feature prominently in the gun lobby’s “guns everywhere” agenda. These defensive victories build on the trend from recent years in which dozens upon dozens of gun-lobby priority bills were either defeated by gun safety advocates or failed to advance through their legislative sessions.
In 2017, almost thirty states, including traditional gun-lobby strongholds like Florida and Texas, have rejected bills that are top gun lobby priorities.
- Permitless carry rejected across the country: One of the gun lobby’s top priorities is permitless carry, which would allow individuals to carry hidden, loaded firearms in public without a permit or any training. This legislation has now failed in 20 out of the 22 states where it was pushed. This session, South Dakota’s Republican governor, who is an NRA member, vetoed such a bill, as did Montana’s Democratic governor. A similar bill failed in Texas after aggressive advocacy from the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action. A recent study by Stanford University researchers showed that weakening laws governing who can carry concealed guns in public is associated with a 13-15 percent increase in violent crime, thus debunking the longstanding NRA narrative that “more guns result in less crime.” Having defeated permitless carry in these jurisdictions will keep residents of these states safer.
- Guns on campus thwarted in state after state: Another legislative priority for the gun lobby is guns on campus, which would force state colleges and universities to allow individuals to carry guns on campus or expand these laws where they are already in place. These bills have now failed in 14 out of 16 states in which they were brought up, notably in Wyoming, Alabama and South Carolina.
- Background check repeals blocked in two states: This session, lawmakers in Iowa and Nebraska pushed to repeal requirements that criminal background checks be conducted on unlicensed handgun sales, such as those that are facilitated on the internet or that take place at gun shows. If either effort had passed, it would have been only the second state since 1998 to repeal a background check law.
Leading up to the defeat of the handgun background check repeal proposal in Iowa, Moms Demand Action volunteers from across the state called their legislators, sent emails and met with lawmakers to urge them to oppose such a move. As a result, the authors of an omnibus bill, House File 517, stripped the background check repeal and a permitless carry provision from the bill.
In Nebraska, a bill that would have eliminated the Nebraska law requiring background checks for all handgun sales was defeated early in the legislative session. LB 370 was withdrawn in January.
Guns in schools rejected: The gun lobby doesn’t stop at trying to put guns on college campuses. Efforts to pass legislation that would allow guns in K-12 schools are another one of the gun lobby’s top agenda items. Bills to force guns into K-12 schools have failed in a staggering 17 out of 18 states this legislative session, including in North Dakota and Montana.
The full report is available here.