Democratic states push gun control bills with Congress stalled

SACRAMENTO — Congress failed to impose gun restrictions after the school massacres in Newtown, Connecticut, and Parkland, Florida, and t...

SACRAMENTO — Congress failed to impose gun restrictions after the school massacres in Newtown, Connecticut, and Parkland, Florida, and there is little certainty that 21 deaths in a elementary school in Uvalde, Texas will change things now.

But states are not waiting.

In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy has urged lawmakers to advance gun safety measures, including raising the age to 21 for the purchase of long guns and exposing manufacturers of guns. weapons to civil suits.

In New York – where an 18-year-old in Buffalo was charged two weeks ago with commit a racist shooting – Governor Kathy Hochul said she would seek to ban people under 21 from buying AR-15-style rifles.

And in California – where a politically motivated a mass shooting broke out at a luncheon of older worshipers this month – legislative leaders and Governor Gavin Newsom pushed for tougher gun controls.

“We get a lot of inquiries even though many state legislatures are not in session,” Nico Bocour, government affairs director for anti-gun violence group Giffords, said after the Uvalde shooting. “As a result of much congressional inaction, states want to step up and keep people safe.”

In Republican-controlled state homes, however, the moves have drawn an equal and opposite reaction. A day after Uvalde, the rural curators of Pennsylvania and Michigan fending off Democratic attempts to force votes on long-stalled gun safety legislation.

And in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott and other Republican officials blamed the school massacre on a gunman with mental health issues, not gun laws. They accused Democrats of politicizing the situation with calls for gun control.

“Anyone who shoots someone else has a mental health issue, period,” Mr Abbott said a day after the Uvalde shooting.

The state’s actions come as hope for a consensus in Congress has faded, not just on gun violence, but on a range of American social issues. As polarized politics repeatedly trump compromise in a tightly divided Congress, liberal and conservative states embraced disparate and often conflicting agendas, building a patchwork of policies on a range of issues, including abortion and civil rights.

Since 2019, federal legislation to expand criminal background checks for gun purchases has passed the House twice only to languish amid Republican opposition in the Senate. Thursday, a small bipartisan group of senators said they would work all weekend looking for common ground.

“We implore you,” wrote a group of principals who survived past shootings on campus in a letter which was to appear Sunday as a full-page ad in the Washington Post. “Do something. Do anything.”

But as they publicly mourned the tragedy of Uvalde, Republican senators showed few signs they had moved. And few believe that stalled Washington will achieve much after seeing the same scenario play before. The one modest proposal that seemed promising would kick state house decisions: It would spur states to pass “red flag” laws aimed at preventing people with mental illness from having guns.

About three out of five state legislatures are controlled by Republicans, but calls for action against gun violence have grown in the wake of Uvalde’s devastation. In Texas, where the National Rifle Association held a convention scheduled three days after the school shooting, the issue surfaced almost immediately in the gubernatorial race.

As authorities were still processing the crime scene, former Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke – who is challenging Mr Abbott – interrupted the governor’s press conference to accuse the Republican of “doing nothing” to protect the Texans of gun violence.

“Someone has to stand up for the children of this state,” Mr O’Rourke called on audience members as he was escorted out of the rally, “or they will continue to be killed.”

Last year, Texas passed a law allowing virtually anyone over the age of 21 to carry a handgun without a license, making it the most populous of a dozen states that have avoided most restrictions. on the ability to carry handguns.

Mr. Abbott was due to appear at the NRA convention in Houston before deciding instead to send a video address and drive to Uvalde. But Republican state officials seemed reluctant to tighten gun laws.

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick suggested that instead of restricting guns, school safety and mental health care should be improved. But the serious questions remain whether popular school security measures work against mass shootings, especially when the attacker is using high-powered weapons. And in the Uvalde shooting, the school district had its own police force and school shooting plan, while the shooter was apparently never reported for mental illness.

Nationally, a majority of Americans have supported tougher gun laws for decades, polls show. A Politico/Morning Consult poll carried out this week have shown overwhelming support among Americans for background checks, assault weapons bans and other gun restrictions.

But the spikes in demand for gun control that come after mass shootings also tend to return to the partisan mean as time goes. The same poll also reported that a slim majority of Americans support arming teachers — a solution touted this week by gun owners of america.

America’s long and bitter fight over guns has hardened the lines to the point where refusing to compromise on the Second Amendment has become part of the republican party identity. The U.S. Supreme Court’s right turn on burning cultural issues still has emboldened republican legislatures enacting conservative social policies once considered too extreme by the courts and Congress — and prompted Democratic-led states to respond accordingly.

After the Supreme Court in December upheld a Texas law encouraging private lawsuits against anyone helping to terminate a pregnancy after six weeks, the California governor proposed parallel legislation to encourage the prosecution of anyone who traffics in prohibited firearms.

At the time, Mr. Newsom’s social media call was seen as a knee-jerk retort that lawmakers weren’t sure whether to take seriously, because it came on a Saturday night and went against his previous view of the Constitution. It is now the basis of the California bill that has received the most attention this week.

Also this week, a federal court upheld a New York law — the first of its kind in the nation — allowing civil lawsuits to be filed against gun manufacturers and dealers. Passed last year, it aims to circumvent the broad immunity that arms companies have long enjoyed. Other states have shown interest, including New Jersey, where Governor Murphy called for similar legislation last month.

But Republicans could look to other courts, particularly the Supreme Court, to block state gun control laws after former President Donald J. Trump appointed a wave of conservative federal judges. This month, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a state ban on the sale of semi-automatic rifles to adults under 21 was unconstitutional.

Despite the ruling, Governor Hochul announced Wednesday that she would seek to prevent people “not old enough to buy a legal drink” from purchasing AR-15-style rifles.

“Not only do we rely heavily on state legislatures now, but we have for the past 10 years, especially since the Sandy Hook massacre,” said Rebecca Fischer, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. , referring to the 2012 elementary school shooting. in Newtown which killed 26 people. “Strategically, we understood as advocates that we needed to work with our state lawmakers to see real change, and that’s where the most significant change has been.”

Research indicates that California’s approach has limited gun deaths.

The state’s gun death rate is among the lowest in the nation, with 8.5 gun deaths per 100,000 people in 2020, compared to 14.2 per 100,000 in Texas, according to the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention. A more recent analysis by the Public Policy Institute of California found that Californians were about 25% less likely to die in mass shootings, compared to citizens of other states.

Even so, New York and other states that enforce strict gun laws are, in many ways, hampered by the lack of a coherent gun policy from Congress and the flow illegal firearms from states with more lenient laws. Studies show that crimes committed with firearms in states with strict restrictions are often committed with firearms from more permissive states.

“California is leading this national conversation,” Newsom said in the state Capitol alongside Democratic state lawmakers. “When California moves, other states move in the same direction.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Democratic states push gun control bills with Congress stalled
Democratic states push gun control bills with Congress stalled
Newsrust - US Top News
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