A Suffering Nation in Need of Peace

Dallas Police Shooting Original

Hate and violence tore through Dallas, Texas on Thursday night, in a reprehensible attack on law enforcement that sought to further divide Americans as they peacefully gathered to mourn lives lost earlier this week to deadly force. Five Dallas law enforcement officers were murdered, and seven more were injured, as were two civilians, by a sniper who carried out his attack during a nonviolent protest over the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. This horrific event specifically targeted police as they carried out their duty to protect the demonstrators.

As more details emerge, one fact is already clear. This gunman was motivated by hate, and hate is enabled and amplified by too-easy access to firearms. We see so many types of shootings each year committed by individuals acting out hateful agendas driven by a wide variety of factors: gang-related activity, ties to terrorist organizations, domestic abuse, and mass shootings of all kinds. These tragedies all have one significant thing in common: a gun in the hands of a person who wishes to do lethal harm to others. Guns escalate dangerous situations into deadly ones, and under our nation’s current gun laws, it’s too easy for that escalation to occur.

Our lawmakers have an urgent responsibility to change the bloody status quo by enacting smart gun laws that prevent deadly weapons from falling into the wrong hands. After years of being stymied at the federal level, we were heartened to see leaders in Washington standing up for stronger gun laws after the shooting in Orlando. Those lawmakers now have every opportunity to continue the momentum and enact commonsense solutions that will help protect our communities from tragedy.

State lawmakers have seen great success getting such laws passed since the massacre at Sandy Hook, enacting more than 140 smart gun laws in 42 states, but there is still much work to be done, particularly in places like Texas. Texas received an F on our Gun Law State Scorecard and has continued to weaken its gun laws over the past year, when it became an open-carry state and enacted a law requiring that guns be allowed on college campuses. And Texas currently doesn’t require background checks for firearms transfers between unlicensed individuals or regulate transfer or possession of assault weapons or large capacity magazines—all commonsense measures that we know reduce gun violence and save lives.

We don’t have a panacea for stopping dangerous people from wanting to harm and kill. But we do know how to fix our gun laws in ways that will reduce the supply of dangerous guns, and close loopholes that let people who want to commit acts of hate obtain them.

Last night’s tragic shooting also comes as we still struggle to process the devastating deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. The protesters in Dallas were seeking justice for two men who were subjected to brutal violence that disproportionately affects African-Americans. Although gun violence, racial bias, and police use of deadly force are complex issues, easy access to guns makes everything worse. As we have seen, guns escalate dangerous situations into deadly ones, and the proliferation of guns in America has made fear a part of everyday life for both citizens and police officers.

As we grapple with these difficult issues, we should not lose sight of our common enemy: hate and divisiveness, the fuel for the deadly actions that took the lives of police officers in Dallas and take the lives of more Americans every day. On this dark day, our hearts are with the families of Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa; the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile; and the families of the more than 117,000 other Americans shot every year.


To learn more about Texas gun laws, see our policy page.

Read our statement about the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

Regulating Guns in America: 2014 Edition

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is proud to release the 2014 edition of our seminal publication, Regulating Guns in America: A Comprehensive Analysis of Gun Laws Nationwide.

This one-of-a-kind report on federal, state, and local gun laws is an invaluable resource for lawmakers, activists, and others seeking in-depth information on firearms regulation in a single publication. In addition to summarizing existing law and providing background information on gun policy, Regulating Guns in America offers common-sense, actionable legislative recommendations to prevent gun violence and save lives.

Topics covered include:

  • Background Checks & Access to Firearms
  • Gun Dealer Sales & Other Transfers
  • Gun Owner Responsibilities
  • Classes of Weapons
  • Consumer and Child Safety
  • Guns in Public Places
  • Investigating Gun Crimes
  • Local Authority to Regulate Firearms
  • Dangerous Trends in State Legislation
  • The Second Amendment

Download your copy of Regulating Guns in America today. Those interested in a print copy should email media@smartgunlaws.org for more information.

For the latest information on firearms regulations in all 50 states and the smart gun laws that can save lives, be sure to bookmark the Laws and Policies section of our website: smartgunlaws.org/gun-policy.

Warning Signs: Preventing Gun Violence in Crisis Situations


The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is proud to partner with Americans for Responsible Solutions to release Warning Signs: Preventing Gun Violence in Crisis Situations. This collaborative report provides analysis of laws that help to empower community members to prevent gun violence in crisis situations.

Together, the Law Center and Americans for Responsible Solutions will continue to develop solutions to keep guns out of dangerous hands through careful research and legislative drafting. The Law Center’s unparalleled legal expertise and the formidable grassroots network of Americans for Responsible Solutions will ensure that the best information available on smart gun policies reaches legislators nationwide.

Download a PDF copy of Warning Signs: Preventing Gun Violence in Crisis Situations

Preventing the Next Mass Shooting Before It’s News

Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Newtown. Most Americans can easily list many of the high profile mass shootings that our nation has experienced. News reports after these events frequently mention that friends, family members, and acquaintances noted a change in the shooter’s behavior in the time leading up to the tragedy. While a variety of legislative proposals can help reduce mass shootings, one approach is to give community members ways to act, so that access to guns can be temporarily removed when a person is in crisis.

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Gun lobby pursues extreme legislation to go after Pennsylvania cities

Crawford County Pennsylvania Courthouse

After the NRA helped defeat state legislation that would have required Pennsylvania gun owners to report lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement, dozens of cities statewide enacted the requirement themselves. The gun lobby responded by suing cities that had enacted the measure. When those suits failed, they began pushing bills through the legislature that would make it easier to sue local governments for enacting ordinances such as the lost or stolen reporting requirement.

One such bill has already passed the State Senate and would require cities to pay attorneys’ fees, expert witness fees, court costs and damages if a plaintiff succeeds in a lawsuit. Cities would be required to pay even if the city repealed the ordinance while the lawsuit was still pending. Another bill would require cities to pay triple the damages, fees and costs if a plaintiff were to prevail in court.

One Pennsylvania mayor whose city requires reporting of lost or stolen firearms predicted that if the measure is enacted into law, his city will “spend money fighting frivolous litigation instead of hiring police officers.” Another Pennsylvania mayor of a city with the reporting requirement said, “All we’re trying to do is protect our citizens. We were kind of shocked. The legislation is absolutely insane.”

Want to see more Extremism in Action? You can find them here.

The Law Center’s Priority Bill Advances in California Assembly

On Tuesday, June 12, 2012, a Law Center co-sponsored bill to require the reporting of lost or stolen firearms in California passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee in a 4-2 vote.  SB 1366 (DeSaulnier) is a critical  measure to help fight the illegal trafficking of crime guns and prevent gun violence in our communities.  The bill is co-sponsored by Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and the California Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and is supported by the California Police Chiefs Association, the California State Sheriffs’ Association, and mayors and gun violence prevention groups statewide.

Find out more about this important issue with Lost & Stolen Reporting: Why SB 1366 Matters.  SB 1366 now proceeds to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Extremism in Action: Indiana Allows Citizens to Use Force to Resist Law Enforcement

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed a measure on March 20, 2012 that allows the use of force to resist law enforcement entry into one’s home or car if a person reasonably believes entry would be unlawful. The new law even allows deadly force against law enforcement in some situations.  The bill is a response to a ruling by the Indiana Supreme Court which held that force may not be used to resist police entry into one’s home. Law enforcement in Indiana voiced strong opposition to the bill. Domestic violence advocates are especially concerned about the new law since police often need to enter homes where domestic violence has occurred to check on the safety of the victim.

Want to see more Extremism in Action? You can find them here.

Lost & Stolen Reporting Bill Passes the California Senate

Yesterday, our priority bill to combat illegal gun trafficking and keep guns out of the wrong hands passed the California State Senate by a vote of 23-14.  Co-sponsored by the Law Center, SB 1366 (DeSaulnier) would require gun owners to alert local law enforcement when their firearms are lost or stolen, providing law enforcement with a much-needed tool to curb gun trafficking. SB 1366 now proceeds to the Assembly. Continue reading

Important Victory in California: SB 1366 Passed California State Senate’s Public Safety Commission

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is pleased to report that the California State Senate has taken a critical step to help stop illegal gun trafficking and keep guns out of the wrong hands.

The Law Center co-sponsored bill SB 1366 (DeSaulnier) was passed by the California State Senate’s Public Safety Committee in a hearing earlier today. SB 1366 would require gun owners to alert local law enforcement within 48 hours when their firearms are lost or stolen.

Requiring the reporting of lost or stolen guns will provide law enforcement with a critical tool to curb illegal gun trafficking. Without a reporting law in place, individuals whose guns are recovered at crime scenes can falsely claim that their weapons innocently disappeared in order to hide their involvement in criminal activity.

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Lost & Stolen Reporting: Why SB 1366 Matters

Seven states, the District of Columbia, and nine cities in California currently require firearm owners to report to law enforcement when their firearms are lost or stolen. The State of California does not.

Currently, firearms dealers and manufacturers must report any lost or stolen firearms within 48 hours, and local law enforcement must enter reports of lost or stolen firearms into the state’s Automated Property System database. However, firearm owners whose guns are lost or stolen are not required to do anything. As a result, law enforcement efforts to investigate gun crimes and disarm dangerous criminals are significantly hindered.

The public overwhelmingly supports laws requiring the reporting of lost or stolen firearms. A nationwide poll in 2011 found that 94% of Americans surveyed, including 94% of gun owners, favor laws to require the reporting of lost or stolen firearms.

In California, 2,972 residents died from firearm related injuries in 2009, and 3,545 others were treated for non-fatal gunshot wounds. Of the 1,811 Californians murdered in 2010, 1,257, or 69%, were killed with firearms. Continue reading