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Saturday, November 26, 2022

States remain divided on gun control even as mass shootings rise

Olympia, Wash. ( Associated Press) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee reacted quickly to this week’s massacre at a Texas elementary school, sending a tweet that the Democratic-controlled state listed gun control measures. He concluded: “Your turn Congress.”

But gun control measures in Congress aren’t going anywhere, and they have also become increasingly rare in most states. Aside from several Democratic-controlled states, the majority have taken no action on gun control or moved aggressively to expand gun rights in recent years.

This is because they are either politically controlled by Republicans who oppose gun restrictions or are politically divided, leading to a standoff.

“Here I am in a position where I can do something, I can introduce the law, and yet there is a sense of helplessness to know that it is almost certainly not going anywhere,” State Sen. Greg Ledding , said a Democrat. GOP-controlled Arkansas Legislature. They have pushed unsuccessfully for red flag laws that would allow authorities to remove firearms from people who are determined to be a danger to themselves or others.

After Tuesday’s Massacre at Robb Elementary School In Uvalde, Texas, which killed 19 students and two teachers, Democratic governors and lawmakers across the country issued impassioned pleas for Congress and their own legislatures to pass a gun ban. Republicans have mostly called for more efforts to shore up security in schools, such as addressing mental health and adding security guards.

Among them is Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who has repeatedly spoken out about mental health struggles among young people, saying that strict gun laws are ineffective in places like New York and California. In Tennessee, GOP Representative Jeremy Fasson tweeted that the state requires security officers “in all our schools,” but stopped promising to introduce legislation during next year’s legislative session: “Evil exists and we need to avoid it.” The innocent must be protected,” Faisson said.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has repeatedly conflicted with the GOP-controlled Legislature over gun laws. He has called for universal background checks and the passing of “red flag” laws that should only be ignored by Republicans. Earlier this year, Democrats vetoed a Republican bill that would allow concealed carry permit holders to carry firearms in vehicles on school grounds and in churches located on the grounds of a private school.

“We cannot accept that gun violence just happens,” Evers said in a tweet. “We cannot accept that children can go to school and never come home. We cannot accept the outright refusal of elected officials to act.”

On Wednesday, a day after the Texas shootings, legislators called for Democrats to retake the Wisconsin gun safety bill., apparently to no avail. Republican Senate Majority Leader Devin Lemhieu and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos did not return messages seeking their responses.

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In Pennsylvania, an attempt by Democratic lawmakers to ban owning, selling or manufacturing high-capacity, semi-automatic firearms in the GOP-controlled Legislature on Wednesday failed, as House Republicans demonstrated their firm opposition to gun restrictions. The GOP-majority legislature has over the past two decades rejected appeals by Democratic governors to tighten gun control laws, including expanding background checks or limiting the number of handgun purchases a person can make in a month. Steps like doing

The situation is similar in Michigan, which has a Democratic governor and a Republican-controlled legislature. On Wednesday, Democrats in the state Senate were thwarted in their efforts to push a slew of bills that would require gun owners to lock up their firearms and keep them away from minors.

“Every day we don’t take action, we’re picking guns on kids,” said Democratic Sen. Rosemary Baer, ​​whose district includes a high school where a teen was charged in a shooting that killed four people in November. and whose parents were accused of involuntary manslaughter, accused of failing to set off their guns. “Enough is enough. No more prayer, no more thoughts, no more passivity.”

Republican State Sen. Ken Horn responded by urging discussion about other possible causes of gun violence.

“I would just like to point out that there are political solutions, but there are just as many spiritual solutions,” he said. “We don’t know what’s really happening in this world, what’s happening in this country, what’s happening to the youth.”

Florida stands out as a Republican-controlled state that took action. The 2018 shooting at a high school in Parkland that killed 14 students and three staff members prompted lawmakers there to pass a law with a red flag provision that would allow law enforcement officers to go to court. Allows the seizure of guns from a person who is considered a threat.

Democrats now want it expanded to allow family members or roommates to make similar requests to the courts, but there is little appetite among Republicans for amending the law. Instead, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis said he wants lawmakers to allow people to carry handguns without a permit. The state currently requires a secret weapons license.

While Republicans have supported red flag laws in some other statesMost of the legislative action around gun control in recent years has taken place in states led by Democrats.

In Washington state, the governor signed a package of bills earlier this year related to firearms magazine limits, adding ghost guns and more places where guns are prohibited, including counting sites.

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On Wednesday in California, Governor Gavin Newsom and top Democratic legislative leaders vowed to fast-track gun legislation, identifying about a dozen bills they plan to pass this year. Newsom highlighted a bill that would let private citizens ban assault weapons by filing lawsuits — similar to a law in Texas that bans most abortions through civil enforcement.

Oregon’s democratically controlled legislature has passed bills that require background checks, ban guns on public school grounds, allow firearms to be taken from people who take risks and use firearms. ensure safe storage. On Wednesday, a group of six Democrats said more should be done after the mass shootings in Texas and the racially motivated massacre in Buffalo, New York., He promised additional action next year.

He said in a joint statement, “We ran for office to solve big problems and make lives better for our constituents – and that includes engaging the gun lobby and politicians who gain political power over children’s lives.” keep.”

But some Democratic-controlled states also have limits, underscoring the challenge of achieving consensus on combating the increasing frequency of mass shootings in the US.

Rhode Island has passed sanctions in recent years that include banning firearms from school grounds and closing the loophole of “buying straw” that allowed people to buy guns for someone else. But bills banning high-capacity ammunition magazines and assault weapons have been bottled up in committee, as the overwhelmingly Democratic chamber includes several lawmakers who opposed the measures, citing their support for the Second Amendment. Is.

In Connecticut, a gun violence law supported by both sides was swiftly followed when 20 children and six staff members were shot dead at a Sandy Hook Elementary shoe. l in 2012. But additional gun control measures were stalled in the Democratic-led General Assembly this year, because of a shortened legislative session and a threat by Republicans to uphold the law via a filibuster.

Democratic Governor Ned Lamont said Wednesday he is unsure whether he will convene a special session on the bills. They would put limits on the bulk purchase of firearms and require registration of so-called ghost guns, unattended firearms that can be assembled at home.

“I think it’s become an incredibly partisan argument in our society right now,” Lamont said. “It wasn’t like, you know, 30, 40 years ago. So it’s troubling, even in a state like Connecticut, where we had strong bipartisan support after Sandy Hook.”

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