Will Haskell Submits Three Gun Regulatory Bills in Connecticut Senate by Charles Yeganian

"Ending gun violence wasn't just something I talked about on the campaign trail. With my first three bills, I'm working to make it a reality," said Haskell in a release. "The common theme in these bills is that they would each empower law enforcement officers to keep our communities safe."

"An Act Concerning Ghost Guns," LCO Number 1022, would ban guns without serial numbers and regulate those which are sold in a form requiring the purchaser to finish assembly or that are homemade.

"An Act Concerning the Presentation of a Carry Permit," LCO Number 1021, would require individuals who openly carry a firearm to show their gun permit to law enforcement officers if requested.

"An Act Concerning Limiting Multiple Handgun Purchases in a Thirty-Day Period," LCO Number 1024, would limit the number of firearms an individual can purchase to one per month.

LEAP Forward will be grading action on all three of these bills and scoring support.

Jahana Hayes On School Safety and Arming Teachers by Charles Yeganian

From Madeline Will, Education Week:

"I worked in a school with 1,300 young people. I would never want the responsibility of securing a firearm in a school with 1,300 teenagers or having to have a conversation that began, 'I thought I locked my desk,' or 'I don't know how they got the gun away from me.' My husband is a police officer. We have firearms in our house. If there's an active shooter in a school and police are deployed, it's a high-tense, high-pressure situation. To have almost no training and be expected to use a firearm in a high-pressure situation, I don't think I would want that responsibility. And then I think about, you know, my husband as a police officer or a first responder having to figure out if the person holding the gun is the shooter [or] is an educator. I just don't think that that's the direction that we need to move in.

Arkansas Republicans Pressing Gun Deregulation, Despite Losses by Charles Yeganian

Despite losses at both the national level and the defeat of the chief architect of Arkansas’ most pro-gun legislation, state Republicans are planning an aggressive attack on gun regulations in the state. From the AP:

One Republican lawmaker, Rep. Charlie Collins, lost his Fayetteville-area seat to Democrat Denise Garner, a gun-control supporter.

Collins sponsored legislation two years ago that prompted a legislative fight over guns. The bill, known as Act 562, proposed expanding concealed-carry rights onto college campuses and into bars and other public buildings.

The legislation was opposed by Democrats and gun-control advocates, who said Republicans ignored concerns from colleges and law enforcement officials. The bill was approved but lawmakers were later pressured by college athletic associations to walk back some provisions.

John Mortiz of the Arkansas Times-Gazette reports that Democrats are planning their own legisiation.

Atop the list of gun policy priorities for Democrats is legislation that would create an extreme-risk order of protection -- commonly known as a "red flag" law -- that would allow a judge to issue an order to temporarily seize a person's firearms if the person is deemed to be a threat to himself or others.

At least 13 states have red flag legislation, according to the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. In Arkansas, draft language for a bill is being completed by Democratic state Sen. Will Bond, D-Little Rock, and state Rep. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville. (Leding will serve in the Senate starting in January.)

Jahana Hayes to Join Gun Violence Task Force in House by Charles Yeganian

Hayes, who won the teacher-of-the-year award in 2016 for her work in Kennedy High School in her home town of Waterbury, upset the Democrats’ hand-picked candidate in the Democratic primary and went on to beat former Meriden Mayor Manny Santos in the general election last month.

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., chair of the task force, suggested that Hayes’ inner-city Waterbury background gave her a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding easy availability of firearms.

“Jahana has seen first-hand the devastation gun violence has on a community,” Thompson said in a statement. “We have a chance to enact real change that will help keep our communities safe from gun violence and I am confident that her leadership and passion on this issue will only strengthen our ability to take action.”

Tom Sullivan Will Sponsor Colorado Red Flag Law by Charles Yeganian

LEAPer and Rep.-elect Tom Sullivan will be the lead House sponsor of a red flag law in the upcoming session of the Colorado legislature, where Democrats regained control in this year’s midterms. From Michelle P. Fulcher, CPR News:

The last red flag gun bill in Colorado lived a short, contentious life. Opponents argued the legislation could be misused by people with an ax to grind against a gun owner, or violate Second Amendment rights.

Sullivan wants to talk through differences across the aisle with the help of experts. But he isn't backing down from the bill, nor is he worried about claims from Republicans that Democrats may overreach with the power of a political trifecta.

"This is what we’re going to do, and this is not an overreach," Sullivan said. "We were elected to go in there and govern, and that’s what we’re going to do."

I will be tracking this bill once it is introduced, and grading support.

LEAPer Katie Hill Named Co-Representative of Freshman Class by Charles Yeganian

Devon Miller, KHTS:

Hill, alongside Congressman-elect Joe Neguse, D-Colorado, was elected as Co-Freshman Representative to Majority Leadership of the 116th Congress during the House Democratic Caucus votes that took place Wednesday.

“This Freshman class is larger, younger and more diverse than ever before, and that’s not a coincidence – it’s a call to action,” said Hill. “Rep-elect Neguse and I ran as co-representatives because we believe this class deserves a bigger seat at the leadership table to ensure we can fight for the issues most important to the communities we represent.”

Sen.-Elect Anna Kaplan (NY-7) Seeking Community Input on Legislative Priorities by Charles Yeganian

Janelle Clausen, The Island Now:

Bill Bodkin, an attorney, activist, and founder of the Port Washington Democratic Club who is chairing the committee, said the group aims to solicit concerns from residents and gauge their priorities in the transition period.

“Many of the Legislative priorities of the Governor and the Democratic majority are well known: the Reproductive Health Act, the Child Victims Act, stricter gun laws and election reforms,” Bodkin said in a news release. “But Senator-Elect Kaplan wants to make sure that she starts her time in Albany with an understanding of all the issues facing residents of the Seventh District, including the issues that don’t get the headlines.”

Christine Cohen Agrees to Cosponsor "Ethan's Law" in Connecticut by Charles Yeganian

Sen.-elect Christine Cohen (Connecticut SD-12) signed on to a change in Connecticut law that would increase the culpability of adults whose handguns are improperly secured. The fight is being led by Kristen and Mike Song, the parents of Ethan Song, who accidentally shot and killed himself while at a friends’ house earlier this year. Ben Lambert in the New Haven Register:

They said the change, which they titled “Ethan’s Law,” would improve safety, and would have allowed Daniel Markle, father of the juvenile arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter Monday in Ethan’s death, to also be held accountable for the death of their son.

Kristin and Mike Song have sued Markle and his business, Markle Investigations, claiming that Markle had failed to “properly store, keep and/or secure a gun on the premises when he knew or should have known that minors might gain access to the gun” and that he permitted unaccompanied minors on the premises, according to the Songs’ complaint.

Cohen and state Rep. Sean Scanlon have agreed to co-sponsor the legislation.

Ethan was killed by a weapon Mr. Markle kept in a cardboard box inside a Tupperware container, but was not charged with a crime because of a loophole in Connecticut law that requires the gun to be loaded in order to justify a charge of criminally negligent storage. Ethan’s Law would close this loophole, and take the burden off the state to prove the gun was loaded when stored negligently.

The Songs hope that Ethan’s Law can be passed by the end of next year. LEAP Forward will be tracking and scoring action on the legislation once it is introduced.

In Colorado, Tom Sullivan is Emblematic of a Brighter Future for Gun Regulation by Charles Yeganian

Local Colorado gun activists - like the fantastic Colorado Ceasefire - see a window for passing a red flag law and other gun legislation in the state, writes Corey Hutchins in the Colorado Independent:

sullivan_tom.jpg

What Ceasefire called “easily the sweetest moment” of this year’s election was the successful campaign of Tom Sullivan of Centennial, whose son Alex was killed in the Aurora theater shooting. Sullivan, one of the most prominent gun-safety advocates in Colorado, won election to the House, beating incumbent Republican Cole Wist, who was the assistant minority leader. (Wist was actually a sponsor of last year’s red flag bill.)

Sullivan said a red flag bill, also known as an Extreme Risk Protection Order law, is his top priority once he gets into office in January. “That’s what I believe the community is asking for,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I’m there.”

Colorado was one of the brightest spots nationally on Election Day, not only electing Tom, but ousting NRA favorite Mike Coffman in a US House race and giving Democrats control of both the House and Senate for the first time since 2014.

Liz Miranda Won in Massachusetts By Running Her Own Way by Charles Yeganian

Michael P Norton of Commonwealth writes about newly elected African Americans - including LEAPer Liz Miranda - and how they are taking on a party they see as unhelpful:

Her brother Michael’s murder last year spurred her to run for office. “The number one factor I would say was 14 months ago my youngest brother was murdered and we need to end gun violence,” Miranda said. “And I felt that the best place to start ending it was to look at where the resources and where the laws were being made and I knew that that was the State House and that’s what I was aiming for.”

Miranda said she “challenged the status quo” during her campaign, by turning to people who felt disenfranchised – young men released from prison and others who she said were told they “don’t matter.” As she picked a campaign manager and volunteer coordinator, she began to build her network.

“I didn’t know where to pull these people from,” Miranda said. “And I decided that when I went back home I was going to pull from what I did have – I had young people. I had my family. I had neighborhood homies. And I felt that if I can excite them that they would excite their networks. And what we saw was we won in every precinct, which had never been done before.”

Anna Kaplan Won By Focusing on Incumbent Party's Record by Charles Yeganian

Janelle Clausen, writing in The Island Now, focuses on the reasons for LEAPer Anna Kaplan’s 10,000 vote win over incumbent state Sen. Elaine Phillips: her ground game, and the GOP’s lack of willingness to move gun regulatory legislation:

Kaplan focused on bills like the Reproductive Health Act and Child Victims Act, which have not come to a vote in the state Senate under Republican leadership, as well as gun control legislation and Phillips’ purported support for charter schools.

“You can’t say that this is a balance and that you need one house to be Republican,” Kaplan said in a previous interview when asked about possible concerns over one-party control. “If you can’t get things done, you need to make a change.”

Kaplan, a town councilwoman, ran specifically on moving an Extreme Risk Protection Order law through the state Senate. With the body now under solidly Democratic control, she will get that opportunity. LEAP Foward will continue to update this space with news on her efforts and those of all elected candidates.

Katie Hill on the Borderline Mass Shooting by Charles Yeganian

Let me be clear: you can count on me to advocate for strong, swift and immediate gun violence prevention legislation that will keep people safe, and keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.

Two key laws are already in place right now that could have prevented the tragedy at Borderline last week, specifically California’s ban on high capacity magazines — which I have supported from day one — and the Gun Violence Restraining Order. Currently, our high capacity magazine ban is being held up in court by an NRA lawsuit. This is just another example of how the gun lobby is one of our biggest barriers to keeping our communities safe, and why I have never taken NRA money and never will. Gun Violence Restraining Orders are a tool for temporarily removing firearms and ammunition from individuals in crisis, but the law is massively underused. In situations like Borderline, where families saw the red flags, the GVRO can save lives. This legislation has already been passed, but it needs awareness and advocates in order to be effective.
— Katie Hill

Katie’s entire piece can be read on her Medium page.

How Two LEAPers Turned GOP "High Ground" Soggy in Arkansas by Charles Yeganian

I wrote last week that Arkansas is Republican high ground. The "blue wave" would have to be a Noah's flood to put this state underwater. This week, let me point out that Northwest Arkansas is the peak of that high ground (with Fayetteville being a kind of spring-fed pond near the top.) Well, it turns out that even high ground can get a little soggy if some rain falls in just the right spot.

Certainly, Denise Garner of Fayetteville's win over incumbent Republican Rep. Charlie Collins was the race Democrats had to win to be taken seriously any more. Collins was the major target. But Collins was the major target because he had baggage. His guns-on-campus bill made him potent enemies. Williams had none. [Megan] Godfrey's win does not include any of Fayetteville either. Her district is pure Springdale.

Garner's win encourages Democrats to challenge vulnerable Republican incumbents. Godfrey's win, however, encourages Democrats to challenge them all.

Garner, a retired nurse practitioner, and Godfrey, an ESL teacher, were both first-time candidates for legislative office, and both ran on strong gun safety platforms, including keeping guns out of the hands of unsafe individuals and out of schools.

Campus Carry Support Making Life Difficult for Georgia Senator by Charles Yeganian

Dan Jackson of Flagpole has a profile on the Georgia state Senate race in District 46, featuring Sen. Bill Cowsert and LEAPer Marisue Hilliard. Once again, an incumbent Republican trying to have it both ways on guns has led to a contentious race, and an opening for Democrats.

Hilliard, a former employee of the US Forest Service, is the first Democrat to run against Cowsert since 2008 and was spurred to action by the school massacre in Newtown, CT. She formed her local chapter of Moms Demand Action.

The group lobbied hard against the so-called “Campus Carry” act allowing guns on parts of college campuses. Hilliard said in a phone interview that “there was a lot of anger in Athens, particularly among faculty and staff,” when Gov. Nathan Deal reversed his 2016 veto and signed the bill in 2017.  

“At the state level, we have prevented laws from going forward, for example keeping a K-12 law to arm teachers” from coming up for a vote, Hilliard continued.

Cowsert initially voted for the Campus Carry bill, but voted against the final version that Deal signed. He has said he reversed his position after being flooded with opposition from constituents—including his wife and daughter.

Gun Legislation on the Ballot in New York SD-7 by Charles Yeganian

Control of the New York state Senate will be determined on November 6, and with it, the fate of legislation stymied by the GOP’s one-vote majority in the body. (Democrats technically have more seats, but due to a number of Democrats caucusing and/or voting with the GOP, important gun regulations have been defeated. It’s a long story that hopefully I’ll be able to stop telling in a few weeks.

One of the most competitive races is in the North Hempstead area, where incumbent Republican Elaine Phillips held her seat by just 2 points in 2016, and faces Councilwoman Anna Kaplan. As The Island Now points out, a lot hinges on the race, especially when it comes to firearms, where Phillips’ vote helped kill some important stuff:

Phillips’ position on guns has been inconsistent. Phillips initially voted against four amendments that would have banned bump stocks, provided more thorough background checks, authorized judges to remove guns from those found to be danger to themselves or others, and created a state Firearm Violence Research Institute.

After a backlash, Phillips reversed her opposition and stated she now supports the measures.

Kaplan is unequivocal about strengthening New York’s gun control laws. She supports the aforementioned gun control legislation and has spoken out against the NRA event.

Once again, a Republican in a tough re-election race is paying lip service to improving regulations while their actions tell a different story. It’s time to start electing Democrats who actually want to do something rather than keeping incumbents who’ve done nothing.

Boling: Guns "A Real Threat to Our Children" by Charles Yeganian

There is a real threat to our children, our public safety personnel and the safety of all citizens caused by the ready accessibility of lethal weapons. We need to require the very type of background investigations used in New Jersey for decades, end access to high capacity magazines and the weapons that use them, among other things. Our Legislature, under the NRA’s thumb, wouldn’t even pass a “red flag” law.
— Daryl Boling

Gershon Asked About Gun Safety at NY-01 Debate by Charles Yeganian

The subject of responsibility for gun violence came up again with a question from the audience asking what type of gun control legislation each candidate would support.

Gershon said he supports the Second Amendment. “I don’t want to take guns away from honest, hardworking citizens,” he said. But he advocates “universal background checks without loopholes,” he said, including sales at gun shows, and “penalizing people who sell to people that don’t pass background checks.” Congress should renew the assault weapon ban that expired more than a decade ago, Gershon said.

“We should not have concealed-carry reciprocity,” Gershon said, referring to a law that Zeldin cosponsored and voted to pass, which would allow anyone able to carry a concealed weapon in their home state to carry a concealed weapon in any other state. It easily passed the House along party lines in December but has not progressed in the Senate.

“That law makes no sense,” Gershon said. “It will make us all less safe.”

St. Louis American Endorses Cort VanOstran in MO-02 by Charles Yeganian

Something is happening in Missouri’s Second Congressional District. When we endorsed Cort VanOstran in the Democratic primary, we did so in part because he had demonstrated an unprecedented ability to challenge U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Missouri), a three-term incumbent and Trump acolyte. He has outraised her in multiple quarters and helped to garner national attention for their race. Now, it looks like we were right. The most recent polling shows that VanOstran in a statistical dead heat with the incumbent Republican, an impressive feat considering that the GOP intentionally redrew the Second Congressional District years ago to try to make it a safe Republican district.

VanOstran’s message has resonated because he believes in the same things that the voters of the Second District believe in: affordable health care, strong public education, common-sense gun reform, getting money out of politics.