|States Push Gun Bills|
|By ARLETTE SAENZ (@arlettesaenz)||Mar 8, 2013, 6:47 PM|
As lawmakers in Washington, D.C., grapple with developing a national prescription to prevent gun violence, the battle over gun legislation is playing out in the states.
More than 1,100 gun-related bills have been introduced on the state level, according to a review conducted earlier this week by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
On Friday, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed a law that would give school boards the authority to allow teachers to carry firearms in the classroom, a proposal some advocated for in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., last year.
The town of Nelson, Ga., just 50 miles north of Atlanta, is considering an ordinance that would mandate gun ownership for all homeowners, and in Missouri, a lawmaker proposed a bill that would make it a felony to propose any new gun legislation.
As many states try to enact additional gun measures, a study by Boston Children's Hospital and Harvard University released online Wednesday found that states with more gun laws in place see fewer firearm related deaths.
The clash over guns is present in Colorado as lawmakers struggle with how to balance protecting gun ownership, an important tradition for many Western states, with the need to combat mass gun violence like the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., last summer.
The Colorado Senate considered seven pieces of legislation Friday, including background checks, banning magazines containing more than 15 rounds and permitting the prosecution of gun sellers and manufacturers whose firearms are used in violent crimes. One of the more controversial bills -- a ban on concealed weapons on college campuses -- failed before it even made it to the floor on Friday.
One major gun manufacturer, Magpul Industries, has threatened to leave the state if certain measures go into effect. Magpul placed a full-page ad in the Denver Post last month.
"A magazine ban will do more than hurt public safety in a free Colorado. It will force a Colorado company to leave the state," the ad read.
While the battle in Colorado is tailored to its state, national players have waded into the fight. Vice President Joe Biden called Colorado lawmakers last month urging them to vote for certain gun measures, and Mark Kelly, husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who was shot in Tucson, Ariz., two years ago, testified before a state panel on behalf of universal background checks earlier this week.
But as new measures abound on the state level, lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are struggling with advancing some of the national-scale bills introduced in Congress in the months since the shooting in Newtown, Conn.
On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of a gun trafficking bill that would make straw purchasing illegal, and the bill will now move to be considered by the full Senate. Three other bills are still waiting to make it out of committee -- an assault weapons ban, a background check bill and a measure on school safety.
Many do not believe the assault weapons ban will pass the Senate, and over the past week, the background check bill has sputtered in Congress after Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., backed out of talks with the bill's sponsor, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Sens. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., have said they could not support the bill in its current state.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held multiple hearings over the past two months as senators tried to craft legislation to curb gun violence. Many of the hearings contained emotional testimony, including appearances by Giffords and Neil Heslin, who lost his son in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.
President Obama introduced his recommendations for gun violence prevention measures in January after Biden held numerous meetings with various stakeholders in the gun control debate, but the president has maintained a relatively low profile on guns while senators have worked on the issue.