Progressive State Lawmakers Take Action to Prevent Gun Violence in Wake of Florida Shooting
Progressives legislators have introduced commonsense gun safety legislation, called on conservative leaders to act, and defeated legislation that would threaten public safety.
WASHINGTON, D.C – In the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, progressive state lawmakers across the country are standing up to the gun lobby and looking for solutions. From legislation that will ban bump stocks and raise age requirements for buying assault-style weapons, to prohibiting the buying and selling of body armor, and limiting access to guns for those with mental illness or those convicted of domestic abuse, legislators are looking at research and acting to address the gun violence epidemic. Below is a roundup of recent steps progressive legislators have taken in the days since the shooting in Parkland, Florida:
- In Florida, Reps. Shevrin Jones and Robert Asencio partnered with the State Innovation Exchange to hold a tele-town hall on the evening of Tuesday, February 27 to discuss with constituents what steps can be taken to prevent gun violence in the months and years ahead. Florida House and Senate Democrats have also introduced numerous gun safety amendments, including a full ban on assault weapons. The Legislative Progressive Caucus, Sen. Gary Farmer, and House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz also met with Parkland parents.
- In Arizona, Rep. Randy Friese, a trauma surgeon who operated on former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after she was shot in Tucson in 2011, tried to get the Arizona House to vote to ban bump stocks this month. Members of the Arizona Senate also introduced a package of measures to limit gun possession among those with mental illness or those who are convicted of domestic abuse, expand background checks, and ban bump stock devices.
- In Illinois, lawmakers are considering several pieces of gun safety legislation, including banning bump stocks, raising the age requirement for buying assault-style weapons, prohibiting the buying and selling of body armor, requiring state licensing of gun dealers, and implementing a 72-hour waiting period for purchasing assault weapons.
- In Maine, House Speaker Sara Gideon told the Bangor Daily News she plans to prioritize gun safety bills as the Maine legislative session draws to a close. This includes a bump stock ban, a proposed ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines, an improved background check process and a proposal to raise the age to buy a firearm to 21. Maine, as well as Michigan and other states, may also consider bills that would allow family members or law enforcement officers who voice concern for an individual’s mental health to request a restraining order to temporarily take away that individual’s firearms until the danger subsides.
- In Pennsylvania, Rep. Ed Gainey introduced a measure to ban assault weapons.
- In Vermont, support is growing among lawmakers to enact universal background checks.
- In Virginia, progressive lawmakers have called on conservative legislative leaders to take up a number of gun safety measures that previously languished. This includes a bill that would prohibit the use of bump stocks, and a bill that would prohibit individuals under 21 from purchasing semi-automatic rifles.
- In Colorado, Michigan, North Carolina and elsewhere progressive lawmakers have been working to stave off new measures that would threaten public safety, including measures to allow guns in K-12 public schools and expand state concealed carry laws.
- Delaware may follow the lead of Massachusetts and New Jersey and ban bump stocks in 2018, and states including Oregon, Kansas, Washington, and Utah are looking to close the “boyfriend loophole” by including dating partners in state domestic violence protections and prohibit stalkers from accessing firearms. In Minnesota, Rep. Dave Pinto is working to advance measures on universal background checks and, similar to Maine and Michigan, allow police and family to petition a court to issue a restraining order that would temporarily prevent a person from possessing a gun.