10 States Take Action To Prevent Gun Violence

One month after Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre prompted a national debate about preventing gun violence, state lawmakers have indicated they will push gun violence prevention measures, such as universal background checks, limiting high-capacity ammunition, and banning assault weapons. Right now, the vast majority of states have no laws on many of these issues.

While the country anticipates Vice President Joe Biden’s taskforce recommendations, Congress and many states have already pushed for some practical reforms:

New York: The state will be the first to enact tougher laws. It expects to vote on the package on Monday, which expands New York’s ban on assault weapons, limits magazines to seven bullets, and requires background checks for private gun sales.

Massachusetts: Governor Deval Patrick will seek tougher gun restrictions this session, such as limiting gun purchases to one per month and enhancing background screening.

Maryland: Gov. Martin O’Malley plans “to propose limits on assault weapons and high- capacity magazines, as well as tougher licensing requirements for handguns.”

Illinois: There are proposals to ban assault weapons, after a similar measure died last year due opposition from the NRA.

Colorado: Gov. John Hickenlooper used his state address to call for background checks on private gun sales, currently exempt through the “gunshow loophole.”

Arizona: In the Republican-controlled Arizona legislature, Democrats unveiled a plan for universal background checks.

Delaware: Lawmakers are seeking background checks on private gun sales, a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.

Oregon: State Sen. Ginny Burdick (D) is backing bills that would ban or limit assault rifles and and expand background checks.

California: State Sen. Leland Yee (D) will reintroduce a bill from last year prohibiting gun owners from outfitting semi-automatic weapons with devices that allow them to shoot more rounds.

Florida: Florida has a new bill introduced by the Democratic House minority that gives local governments authority to ban concealed weapons from public events.

In Congress, lawmakers have already introduced eight smart bills on gun safety.

The debate has also galvanized gun groups from extreme quarters, notably the National Rifle Association. Elsewhere, Republican lawmakers in South Carolina, Indiana, Texas have pushed to weaken gun violence prevention in the wake of Sandy Hook.


A new report from the Center for American Progress outlines the 13 steps Congress and the president can take to address gun violence, including background checks on all gun sales and reinstating the assault weapons ban.