States taking quick - but very different - actions on guns

Politics -

States are moving quickly to enact new gun laws following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. But these laws vary widely, with some tightening and others loosening restrictions.

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Source: www.flickr.com
Source: www.flickr.com

Although enacting new gun laws in Washington is a slog, states have moved quickly in passing a wide variety of new firearm measures in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, the L.A. Times notes. Calif., N.Y., and Conn. have all tightened laws, while Ohio, Mich. and Ark. have eased them.

States are more politically homogenous than the federal government -- 37 state capitals are controlled by a single party. This makes the work of enacting legislation easier for state legislatures, which are already used to working faster than Congress since they typically meet for just a fraction of the year.

A federal judge on June 26 ruled that Colorado gun laws that limit ammunition magazines to 15 bullets and expand background checks on private online gun sales are both constitutional. The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by conservatives after Democratic lawmakers pushed the laws through in 2013.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal on April 23 signed a law that greatly expands the types of public places where people are allowed to carry guns and relaxes regulations on gun owner tracking.

South Dakota passed a law allowing teachers to carry guns in classrooms. Wyoming recently enabled judges to carry guns in courtrooms. Michigan and Ohio made obtaining a gun easier. Texas, North Carolina and Missouri are all also set to enhance gun rights.

The governor of Missouri has vetoed legislation described by one supporter as the most "hardcore 2nd Amendment" legislation in the country. The bill declared Missouri does not have to abide by federal gun laws.

Arizona enacted a new law requiring cities and counties to sell guns turned in at community buyback events, rather than melt them down. Law enforcement usually holds buybacks to take guns off the street. But proponents of the new law said destroying the guns was a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley on May 16 signed into law one of the toughest gun control measures in the U.S., including the first handgun licensing requirements to be introduced in the nation in almost two decades. Source: www.flickr.com

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley on May 16 signed into law one of the toughest gun control measures in the U.S., including the first handgun licensing requirements to be introduced in the nation in almost two decades.

On Apr. 3, 2013, Conn. passed aggressive new gun controls requiring background checks for all sales, creating a registry of dangerous offenders, expanding an assault weapons ban, and prohibiting new purchases of high-capacity magazines while creating a registry for existing magazines with 10 or more bullets.

A law requiring that semiautomatic handguns sold in California be outfitted with technology to stamp identifying information onto each bullet fired has taken effect. The law was signed in 2007 by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger but had been delayed by patents on the microstamping technology.

Citing infringement on gun owner's rights, California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed some of the toughest gun control bills Oct. 11, which had been approved by CA's legislature. He approved others.

Gun dealers in states along the U.S.-Mexico border must report when customers buy more than one high-powered rifle at a time, a federal appeals court ruled May 31. The ruling stems from a 2011 federal regulation applying to California, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico.

On August 8, NJ Gov. Chris Christie signed 10 gun measures into law, including preventing people from buying guns if they are on the federal no-fly list and requiring some mental health records to be reported to the state's background check system.

On June 13 Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed a bill to require background checks on all gun purchases in the state, citing the 2nd Amendment and saying it would do "little to prevent criminals from unlawfully obtaining firearms."

Illinois has enacted a law that requires all citizens to report a lost or stolen gun to police within 72 hours, effective immediately. It also expands background checks to include private sales and transfers of ownership of firearms, even online.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg of the District Court for DC upheld Washington DC's gun control law in a May 15 ruling.

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The first state to pass new gun controls following Sandy Hook was New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed into law on Jan. 15 a sweeping ban on sales of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, plus new rules to keep guns out of the hands of convicted criminals and the mentally ill.

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