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Governors push new gun restrictions in wake of massacres

Several governors and state lawmakers this week proposed additional restrictions on gun purchases, background checks and sales in the wake of the school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, this week and the slaying of 10 Black shoppers at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket last week.

The suggestions, almost exclusively from Democrats, ranged from restricting firearm advertising to minors to requiring police to report guns recovered at crime scenes to aid in investigations.

In some Republican-controlled states, however, lawmakers are pushing ahead with measures to expand access to firearms.

Ohio Republicans are supporting a bill that would allow school officials to carry a handgun with two hours of training, according to a News5Cleveland roundup of proposed gun legislation. That bill now is being considered in the Senate after passing the House. The state also has a new law allowing residents to carry concealed handguns without permits; it went into effect earlier this month.

Florida lawmakers are close to passing a similar bill that likewise would allow for concealed carry without a permit. GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis has said he’ll sign it. Alabama also passed a permitless carry bill into law this year.

Democratic governors, however, are doing what they can to restrict gun access. California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he’d work with lawmakers to expedite bills that would limit gun advertising aimed at minors, restrict ghost gun kits and allow governments and gun victims the right to sue manufacturers.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, last week issued a pair of executive orders: One establishes a domestic terrorism task force. The other requires state police to file protective orders when they have reason to think under the state’s red flag law that a person might be a danger to themself or others.

Hochul said she also will push two gun-related bills in the legislature. One would require microstamping-enabling of semi-automatic pistols made or sold by licensed dealers in New York, putting in place a technology that could help investigators match bullet casings to the guns that fired them. The other would require law enforcement to report within 24 hours the recovery of a gun at a crime scene. Both, she says, would help streamline investigations.

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Lawmakers in Albany, meanwhile, also want to strengthen the state’s red flag law. It wasn’t invoked against the Buffalo gunman, even though a school official had alerted police about his threatening statements.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, called on lawmakers to take a vote on every gun-related measure before them—both those strengthening and weakening gun control. “Let’s make every legislator choose whose side they have chosen to be on; the people of New Jersey on the one hand, or the gun lobby on the other hand,” he said, according to WHYY.

In Connecticut, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont too reiterated his desire for stricter gun measures, in part by recalling the deaths of 26 people in a school shooting in Newtown in 2012. “We clearly have a gun problem in America,” he said in a statement. “There are more damn guns on the street than ever before, especially illegal guns.”

Yet during this legislative session, his efforts to rein in ghost guns—firearms without serial numbers—and expand the state’s assault weapon ban was blocked by Republicans, according to The Middletown Press.

Stateline is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts that provides daily reporting and analysis on trends in state policy.

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David Geitgey Sierralupe/CC BY 2.0

A sign at the 2018 March For Our Lives. Several Democratic governors called this week for more gun control measures, as some Republican governors have pushed to ease rules on concealed carry.