While an Obama administration task force and lawmakers on Capitol Hill work to come up with ways to curb gun violence at the federal level in the wake of the recent mass shooting at a Newtown, Conn., school, state lawmakers have also been active with efforts to address the issue since the tragedy.
New York, for example, appears poised to move swiftly ahead with new gun control measures. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) used his Wednesday State of the State address to call for tighter restrictions, including a pitch to pass the country’s toughest assault weapons ban, require background checks in private gun sales, and stiffen penalties for illegal guns sales.
State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) said Cuomo and legislative leaders were “95 percent” of the way toward an agreement. State Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos said he was hopeful a proposal could be presented to his members soon for a vote. In New York, Democrats control the state House, while a unique power sharing agreement is in place in the state Senate
Below is a sampling of the other states where there has been notable legislative movement on gun control measures, in alphabetical order. (Which ones did we miss? The comments section awaits your input):
* California: A state with perhaps the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation may be tightening them even more, as one state lawmaker said last month that he would propose a bill to require permits and background checks for ammunition purchases, while another said he would introduce a measure to require annual registration and background checks for all gun owners. Democrats control both state legislative chambers in the state.
* Colorado: In the state where a deadly mass shooting at a movie theater occurred last summer, the gun control debate has seized attention in the legislature. In Gov. John Hickenlooper’s (D) Thursday State of the State address, he called for universal background checks on all guns sales. Last month, Hickenlooper proposed speeding up the pace at which information from court proceedings involving mental health holds gets to the registry for gun ownership background checks.
Meanwhile, about 100 gun rights activists marched in protest outside the state capitol Wednesday, where Democrats kicked off the new legislative session. That, combined with the introduction of a GOP bill to allow school employees with concealed weapons permits to carry firearms at work, suggests a contentious debate may be in the offing in the state. One reason Hickenlooper should be optimistic about his pitches: Democrats control the state legislature.
* Connecticut: Gov. Dan Malloy (D) choked up when he mentioned the Newtown shooting in his Wednesday State of the State address, but didn’t lay out specific gun control proposals. What Malloy has done is something similar to what the Obama administration did, with the launch of an advisory panel that will offer recommendations on school safety and gun violence by mid-March. Meanwhile, a Republican state senator plans to propose legislation to close a loophole in the state’s assault weapons ban. Connecticut is a state that is home to some well-known gun makers, which adds another layer to the way the issue is addressed there. Democrats control the state legislature.
* Illinois: The state Senate recently advanced measures that would ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips, but with time running low in the lame-duck session, lawmakers moved to prioritize other matters first. Meanwhile, Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan has pressed the courts for tough laws. Democrats control the state legislature in Illinois.
* Michigan: Gov. Rick Snyder (R) recently vetoed a measure that would have allowed concealed weapons in schools, day care centers, sports arenas, bars, places of worship, hospitals, dorms and casinos. Republicans control the state legislature.