With the first half of 2017 behind us, Americans have already experienced too many devastating losses to gun violence. The week of the one-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre, the deadliest shooting in our nation’s history, we endured two more media-grabbing mass shootings in a single day in Virginia and San Francisco—the 153rd and 154th mass shootings of the year. Urban gun violence continues to claim increasingly more lives—Chicago saw seven deaths and 50 more wounded in a single weekend this month. And, despite a mountain of evidence that deregulating silencers and forcing states with strong gun laws to recognize concealed carry permits issued in states with weak laws would make the public less safe, the gun lobby aggressively pursues bills in Congress to do just that.
But the gun violence prevention movement continues to make historic progress that began after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, notching critical victories in a time where the president has vowed to advance the gun lobby’s agenda to bring guns into every aspect of public life. This legislative cycle, states passed smart gun laws to improve background checks and suicide prevention. Several states also enacted laws strengthening efforts to prevent domestic abusers from accessing guns, and California restored funding to programs aimed at reducing urban gun violence.
So far in 2017, our attorneys have tracked, analyzed, and summarized more than 1,617 firearms bills, and will review many more during the remainder of the year in states that have yet to complete their legislative cycles. We’ve also worked with our partners at Americans for Responsible Solutions and other advocates in the gun violence prevention movement on gun safety legislation in 26 states.
In our special edition of Gun Law Trendwatch—2017 Mid-Year Review, we review the gun violence prevention movement’s progress so far this year. Some of the standout trends from 2017 include:
- Domestic violence: Every year, a number of states pass laws that make it harder for domestic abusers to access guns, and 2017 was no exception.
- Defensive victories: Legislators in 20 states rejected measures to allow guns in public without a permit, and guns on campus bills were defeated by 12 states—major setbacks to the gun lobby’s dangerous agenda.
- Extreme risk protection orders: Bills that would allow family members and law enforcement to petition courts to temporarily disarm individuals who pose a significant risk to themselves or others were introduced in 18 states, and are still pending in 10.
The year isn’t over yet, and we anticipate even more victories during the remainder of 2017. We’re waiting for Governor Jerry Brown’s signature on the state’s budget, which restores funding to CalVIP, a state-level grant program that provides funding for cities to implement violence prevention and intervention strategies. In California, the Law Center sponsored AB 785, a bill that would prohibit individuals convicted of hate crimes from possessing firearms. The bill is swiftly advancing through the legislature with bipartisan support. In Massachusetts, an extreme risk protection order bill is scheduled to be heard in committee on July 18. The Law Center will continue to update the movement on the outcome of these innovative efforts to prevent gun violence, and others, in future issues of Trendwatch.