In the days and weeks immediately after the December 14, 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School when 20 elementary school children and 6 adults were killed by a gunman, cries for stiffer gun control laws reached a fever pitch. The screams to leave gun laws alone or even to relax them were just as loud. Seemingly everyone had an opinion from the President, to politicians on both sides of the aisle, to gun lobby groups, to gun control advocacy groups, to parents of Sandy Hook victims, to other moms and dads. Even children weighed in on the issue. It is now a little over a year since the shooting. Sandy Hook is no longer regularly making national headlines. Sound bites from the National Rifle Association no longer top the evening news. It seems as if little has changed in the last 12 months. Or has it?
Changes in State Law
While Congress did not make any changes to gun control laws, state legislatures did. In the year since Sandy Hook, over 114 measures were passed that affected state gun laws.
Strengthening Gun Control
Eleven states, plus the District of Columbia passed laws that strengthened gun control. Two states made it harder to carry guns in public. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia passed laws that made it easier for the government to track guns. For example, Maryland and New York now require that lost or stolen firearms be reported, and Rhode Island makes it illegal to tamper with identification marks on firearms. Fifteen states strengthened mental health restrictions related to gun ownership. California, for example, now requires psychotherapists whose patients threaten violence to report the threats, and Colorado requires that mental health records be reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Weakening Gun Control
Twenty-nine states passed laws that made it easier for people to own guns and carry them in public places such as schools, bars, and casinos. Twenty-six states added laws that strengthened the ability to carry concealed firearms in public. Seven states now allow guns to be carried in schools. For example, Alabama now allows school security personnel and resource officers to carry firearms, and Oklahoma allows handguns in private schools and on private school buses. Alabama, Alaska, Kansas and Missouri all passed laws that prohibited state officials from enforcing certain aspects of federal gun control laws or nullified federal gun control laws.
A Kansas city personal injury attorney remarks that clearly most people believe that the gun violence in the United States needs to stop. No one wants even one more child injury from gun violence. No one wants a repeat of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Columbine High School, the Aurora, Colorado movie theater, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, or the Tucson, Arizona Safeway. However, people disagree on the most effective way to stop the gun violence. Some believe that fewer guns in society will result in fewer shootings. Others believe that more guns in the hands of lawful citizens will result in fewer gun deaths by criminals. What types of policies do you believe will have a meaningful affect on gun violence in the United States?