Tuesday, December 17, 2013

In year after Newtown massacre, 2/3 of new gun laws eased restrictions or expanded owners' rights

The school massacre in Newtown, Conn., one year ago last weekend, opened up debate about the need for stronger gun-control laws. But in the year since the shooting, "Nearly two-thirds of the new laws ease restrictions and expand the rights of gun owners," reports The New York Times. "Most of those bills were approved in states controlled by Republicans. Those who support stricter regulations won some victories—mostly in states where the legislature and governorship are controlled by Democrats—to increase restrictions on gun use and ownership." (NYT graphic: Gun laws passed since Newtown shooting)
But even in states that put more controls on guns, politicians have faced backlash. Colorado, which passed stricter gun laws earlier this year, has since kicked out two Democratic state senators who supported gun-control in a recall election, and another facing a recall resigned, allowing her party to name a replacement.

Meanwhile, Colorado sheriffs like John Cooke of Weld County (Colorado Springs Gazette photo by Michael Ciaglo) "are refusing to enforce the laws, saying that they are too vague and violate Second Amendment rights," Erica Goode reports for the Times. "Many more say that enforcement will be 'a very low priority,' as several sheriffs put it." In May, 57 of the state's 62 sheriffs in Colorado joined a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of federal gun laws. Police officials in some other states have also said they will refuse to enforce any new gun laws.

Some gun-control supporters have gone to extremes to get their message out. Stop Handgun Violence has a billboard near the heavy traffic area around Fenway Park in Boston that keeps a running daily tally of the number of gun deaths since Newtown, with the number at 32,833 last weekend, Peter Schworm notes for The Boston Globe. But with about half the states weakening gun laws, and an Associated Press poll finding that support for stricter laws has fallen since January, the campaigns don't seem to be working. (Read more) (Globe photo by David L. Ryan)

The Times put together a list of how laws in each state have fared that dealt with gun permits, guns in schools, mental health, background checks, assault weapons, gun access, lost/stolen firearms, nullifying federal law and other laws proposed or passed. For the list, click here.

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