Washington: Committee Hearings Continue on High Capacity Magazine Ban by Charles Yeganian

“High-capacity magazines enable those with criminal intent to maximize carnage,” said the bill’s led sponsor, Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, citing 2016 shootings in Mukilteo and Burlington that left eight dead. “Limiting magazine capacity to 10 rounds strikes a balance, allowing critical time for first responders to intervene and save lives while permitting magazines with enough ammunition to maintain self-defense.”

Ami Strahan of Spokane told the committee that her 15-year-old son, Sam, was shot and killed at Freeman High School in 2017 by a fellow student who had two guns. She said the shooter’s AR-15 rifle, which was equipped with a high-capacity magazine, jammed and so he had to use a pistol instead. Three other students were seriously injured.

“Had his high-capacity magazine rifle not jammed, just imagine the carnage that would have happened at the school that day,” Strahan said. “No one law alone can prevent all gun violence, but there is more we can do to keep our kids and communities safe.”

LEAP Forward is grading action on the high capacity magazine ban - SB 5062 - and is scoring support.

Washington AG Bob Ferguson Testifies in Favor of High Capacity Magazine Ban by Charles Yeganian

From KIRO 7:

“[High-capacity magazines] were used in Newton, Las Vegas, Aurora, Parkland. The Parkland shooting only came to an end when the shooter had to come to a stop to reload,” Ferguson said in his testimony.

Hundreds of people packed the state Legislature on Monday to voice either their support or opposition to the proposals.

“People served best by high-capacity magazines are mass shooters,” said Las Vegas shooting survivor and Seattle local Emily Cantrell. “High-capacity magazines paired with a bump stock allowed the shooter to fire 90 shots in 10 seconds — imagine 1,100 rounds total in 10 minutes coming right at you.”

Virginia Gun Control Bills Die in Committee by Charles Yeganian

From The Republican Standard:

So far, House Republicans have killed fourteen Democratic gun control bills, following earlier defeats of anti-gun legislation by Senate Republicans. Only four gun control bills remain alive in the House.

Governor Northam and Democratic Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) have made gun control a leading priority for the legislative session, proposing broad new restrictions on law-abiding gun owners, including: bans on commonly-owned semiautomatic firearms, the passage of firearms confiscation measures lacking due process, a prohibition on private party transactions, and a reinstitution of Virginia’s “One Handgun a Month” law, previously repealed in 2012.

Gun rights supporters with the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL) slammed the proposal as “California-style gun control” which they said represented the broadest attempt to restrict firearms ever introduced in Virginia.

The House action comes a week after the state Senate killed legislation pertaining to Red Flag laws, limits on the number of handguns purchased in a month, and nine other bills promoted as part of the Governor’s agenda.

Controversial Florida Republican Pushes Guns on Campus by Charles Yeganian

A freshman legislator who made a name for himself in Lake County by embracing Confederate memorials has fired the opening salvo in the 2019 campus carry debate.

In the first batch of bills he filed for the March session, State Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Clermont, has signaled his intention to allow college and university students to carry guns into the classroom.

“Florida’s law-abiding concealed weapon permit holders should be treated the same way on a campus of higher education as any other place,” said Sabatini. “Following our state’s smart and pro-active idea last year allowing highly trained employees to serve as guardians at schools, supported by the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission, it’s a natural corollary to begin allowing good people to arm themselves on college campuses to prevent the next mass shooter.”

LEAP Forward is grading Sabatini’s bill - HB 6007 - and scoring opposition.

New Hampshire Dems Want School Districts to Regulate Firearms by Charles Yeganian

Since 2011, the state of New Hampshire has had authority over the sale, ownership, use, possession and permitting of all firearms in the state. However, this new bill would redistribute some of that power to individual school districts and allow them to enforce gun-free zones.

Currently, HB 101 is in the Committee on Education in the House of Representatives. After a public hearing on the bill, the Committee on Education will vote on whether it should pass, would be inexpedient to legislate or should be studied further.

College Democrats president Gigi Gunderson ’21 said she supports the bill.

“This bill comes at a pertinent time in the question of the tension between common sense gun regulation and personal gun ownership, especially in a state like New Hampshire where the culture is ‘Live Free or Die,’” Gunderson said. “We continue to support policies that make our schools and New Hampshire residents safer.”

Arkansas Republican Files "Stand Your Ground" Legislation by Charles Yeganian

Opponents of the House Bill 1059 said it could have unintended consequences but the sponsor, Rep. Aaron Pilkington, R-Clarksville, said he wants to give Arkansans an opportunity to better protect themselves.

While Pilkington isn't sure how much support the bill will receive from his fellow lawmakers, state Sen. Greg Leding, D-Fayetteville, who opposes guns on college campuses and typically opposes legislation that relaxes gun laws, told KATV this bill could have unintended consequences.

"I would ask representative Pilkington how many times he's been confronted in his front yard by an armed individual," Leding said. "That's what law enforcement is for. And I just really think that this type of legislation, if it were to become law, could end up with a lot of tragic stories."

LEAP Forward is grading action on HB 1059 and is scoring opposition.

Oregon Safe Storage Bill Filed by Charles Yeganian

[Rep. Barbara] Smith Warner compares her safe storage bill to the campaign to make seatbelt use more commonplace.

“It takes kind of a public health approach,” explained Smith Warner. “You create an expectation, you do a broad public education campaign about it and you have that become the default activity.”

The new law would require all gun owners to secure their firearms when not in use. That means locking them up and keeping them out of the hands of people who are prohibited from owning guns like minors or felons. It also requires gun owners to report a stolen gun within 24 hours or face liability for any damages.

Safe storage and mandatory reporting hit close to home for many Oregon residents. In 2012, a man used a stolen AR-15 to kill two people and injure a third at the Clackamas Town Center, a shopping mall just outside of Portland, Oregon. The rifle wasn’t secured in the owner’s home and was never reported stolen.

LEAP Forward will be grading HB 2505 - sponsored by Rep. Warner and named after Cindy Yuille and Steven Forsythe, two victims of the Clackamas mall shooting - and scoring support for the bill.

Virginia Republicans Block Gun Legislation in Committee by Charles Yeganian

Over the last two days, Republicans in both chambers of the General Assembly rejected Governor Northam’s and Virginia Democrats’ calls for common ground on the issue of gun safety, defeating in committee and subcommittee a number of common-sense reforms that have received bipartisan support in many states. 

Among the measures Republicans disallowed from reaching a floor vote was an “Extreme Risk Protection Law”, sponsored by Senator George Barker in SB1458 and Delegate Rip Sullivan in HB1763. This law, which would have temporarily kept firearms away from people who pose a risk to themselves and others, was rejected with only Republican votes in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee and without a vote in the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Subcommittee #1.

Just as they did last year, Republicans also crushed universal background check legislation that is supported by 94% of Virginians. Everyday Virginia Democrats and Republicans alike have spoken loud and clear issue of common-sense gun reform, unfortunately, Republican members of the General Assembly have decided to ignore them.  

South Dakota Gov. Roem Signals Support for Constitutional Carry Legislation by Charles Yeganian

From James Nord, AP:

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-3 to send the bill to the full chamber. A similar proposal passed the Legislature in 2017 before being vetoed by former Gov. Dennis Daugaard, but Noem offered support for a so-called constitutional carry law during her campaign.

Noem said Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden met Thursday at her request with gun-rights advocates, law enforcement, community leaders and lawmakers about firearms legislation. The meeting was intended to discuss priorities and how to find agreement by the end of the 2019 session, she said.

"I've supported the principle of constitutional carry, and ... I've talked extensively about that, so we will look at specific language in each of these bills and see where the support is," Noem said. "I've also talked extensively about the fact that it's important to me that we consult with law enforcement officers ... because their role is incredibly important with making sure that we're protecting people while protecting people's rights."

South Dakota Permitless Carry Legislation Passes Committee Vote by Charles Yeganian

From Lisa Kaczke, Sioux Falls Argus Leader:

The concealed carry bill is one of several addressing gun rights in South Dakota and Lt. Gov. Larry Rhoden held a meeting with legislators, gun rights advocates, law enforcement and community leaders to begin the process to reach consensus on the various proposed gun bills by the end of session. The meeting was held at the request of Gov. Kristi Noem. It was a chance for people to come together to discuss priorities as the legislation moves through the Legislature, Noem said on Thursday.

"From my understanding, the discussion at that meeting went very well," Noem said. "It was just a starting point, there were no agreements made, but everyone talked about their priorities and what we can do to come together and have some resolutions by the end of session."

Noem, who supported Constitutional carry during her campaign, she said she'll be considering legislation's language and support when deciding whether to support a bill. It's important to consult law enforcement and have them at the table to discuss the proposals because "their role is incredibly important with making sure we're protecting people while protecting people's rights," she said.

The bill, South Dakota SB 47, passed the Senate Judiciary Committe by a 4-3 vote, with two Republicans joining the committee’s lone Democrat in voting against advancement. LEAP Forward has graded the committee vote and will continue to score opposition to this legislation

Sen. Christine Cohen (CT) Cosponsors Safe Storage "Ethan's Law" by Charles Yeganian

The proposed new law is named after Guilford teenager Ethan Song, who was accidentally killed last year with a handgun that had been stored in the bedroom closet of a friend’s home. Police and press reports note that the gun was stored in a Tupperware container, and that while the weapon was secured with a gun lock, the keys to the lock and ammunition for the gun were stored in the very same container as the handgun.

“The safety of our children should be our top priority. By strengthening gun storage laws, we can help prevent terrible tragedies.” Sen. Cohen said. “In Ethan’s case, while the gun wasn’t loaded, having accessibility to the keys and ammunition created essentially the same situation as having access to a loaded gun. That is an enormous hazard and ultimately it cost Ethan his life. We should be doing all we can to ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself.”

Dean Phillips (MN-03) Cosponsors Universal Background Check Legislation by Charles Yeganian

From Melissa Turniten, Lakeshore Weekly News:

“This is not a partisan issue,” Phillips said in a statement. “In fact, the vast majority of Democrats, independents and Republicans support universal background checks on gun sales. Passing H.R. 8 won’t end our gun violence crisis, but it is an important first step, and I urge my colleagues in the Senate to join us in advancing this long overdue legislation.”

During his campaign, Phillips said he would be an advocate for gun violence prevention. H.R. 8 would require federal background checks on nearly all firearm sales, including private sales, but would have some exemptions, such as gun exchanges between family members.

This bill would close a loophole that allows people to buy guns at gun shows or online without a background check. Supporters of universal background checks say they can help stop gun violence by keeping guns out of the hands of people who are deemed dangerous, such as people convicted of felonies, domestic abusers and the dangerously mentally ill, a news release explained.

Bipartisan Risk Protection Law Introduced in North Dakota by Charles Yeganian

House Bill 1537 would allow family members and law enforcement to seek a court-issued “public safety protection order” preventing somebody from possessing a firearm for up to one year, although a judge could extend the order. A petition could filed because a gun owner has committed or threatened violence in the past year, has been convicted of or arrested for domestic or sexual assault or has been cruel to animals, among other reasons.

Violating a protection order would be a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense and a Class C felony if it happens again within a year.

“Public safety protection orders save lives by enabling people to act before warning signs escalate into tragedies,” the bill’s chief backer, Fargo Democratic Rep. Karla Rose Hanson, said during a state Capitol press conference.

Hanson singled out suicide, law enforcement safety, and school shootings as areas the bill would address. From Andrew Horn, KFYR:

Fargo Police Chief David Todd says his department responded to nearly 1,400 calls for suicidal individuals in 2018.

Hanson cited state data showing there were 103 gun-related deaths in 2017, an all-time high, 93 of which were suicides.

LEAP Forward is grading action on HB 1537 and will be scoring support for the legislation.

Nebraska "Red Flag Law" Introduced by Charles Yeganian

Sen. Adam Morefield of Nebraska has introduced LB 58, The Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, which will allow firearms to be removed from anyone who is adjudicated to be a danger to themselves or others. From 1011 NOW:

According to Captain Kevin Griger, of the Sarpy County Sheriff’s office ”The extreme risk protection order would be a critical component in removing weapons from people during a mental health crisis. This legislation would give law enforcement and the courts an additional tool to utilize to keep our communities safer while protecting the due process protections and rights of those in crisis.”

Senator Morfeld stated, “Law enforcement, students, and my constituents have made clear the need to have safeguards to ensure that those found to be suffering from severe mental illnesses and individuals who pose an immediate threat do not have access to firearms after an emergency court hearing.” He went on to state, “LB 58 requires a court hearing, requires evidence to be presented and ensures due process for the gun owner. As a gun owner and an attorney this is a critical component for me.” 

Courts would have several criteria to consider when issuing such an order. According to NTV News, these include:

  • Recent threats of violence

  • A pattern of violence or threats

  • Evidence of mental illness

  • Violations of protection orders

  • Previous extreme risk protection orders issued by the court

  • Convicted of crimes against the same family

  • Ownership, access, or intent to possess firearms

  • Illegal or reckless use of firearms

  • History of making threats involving firearms

  • History of stalking

  • Previous convictions for violent crimes

  • Evidence of substance abuse

  • Evidence of recent firearm purchase

LEAP Forward will be tracking and grading support for LB 58.

Rep. Mucarsel-Powell Signs on to HR 8 by Charles Yeganian

Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell has cosponsored the first major gun regulation bill of the new Congress, HR 8. From Kevin Derby, Florida Daily:

“The gun violence epidemic has ravaged our country for too long,” said Mucarsel-Powell. “Too many people – including me – have lost a loved one to gun violence. I am under no impression that this bill will bring the number of preventable firearm deaths to zero, but an overwhelming majority of Americans support commonsense gun reform that will help keep those unfit from possessing a firearm from doing so. This is a bipartisan solution, and I urge my colleagues to swiftly get this bill to the president’s desk, and make background checks a reality.”

LEAP Forward is tracking action on HB 8 and is grading support for the bill.

Polo: Florida HB 175 "Not the Way To Honor" Gun Victims by Charles Yeganian

LEAPer and Florida State Rep. Cindy Polo released the following statement in response to newly introduced HB 175:

“After one of the most devastating mass shootings in our state’s history, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle came together to pass a new set of gun safety laws. This legislation was not perfect, but it was a start. We must continue to move forward with bipartisan consensus on these issues and not backwards. This NRA-sponsored legislation is not the way to honor all of those we lost almost a year ago.

“We have a responsibility to the Parkland families and to all communities in Florida. It’s time our loyalty be with the people and not the NRA. I encourage all of my colleagues to do the same.”

LEAP Forward is tracking HB 175 and will be grading opposition to the bill. Thank you to Rep. Polo for immediately speaking out against this legislation.

Schools Would be Able to Ban Guns Under New Hampshire HB 101 by Charles Yeganian

New Hampshire Democrats have proposed legislation that would give districts the ability to make schools gun-free zones. From Tim Camerato, Valley News:

“The minute you let someone into the building with a gun, with a visual gun, these kids, who have no idea whether they’re looking at a good guy with a gun or a bad guy with a gun, are terrorized,” said State Rep. Susan Ford, D-Easton, a retired school principal who supports the bill.

Ford said children are used to seeing police officers with guns, but members of the public openly carrying through hallways would cause students to fear an imminent school shooting.

Democrats have control of both chambers of the state legislature, but may face a veto from Republican Gov. Chris Sununu. LEAP Forward is tracking action on HB 101 and will be grading actions in support of the bill.

"Red Flag Bill" Introduced in Virginia by Charles Yeganian

HB 1763, introduced in the House of Delegates by Del. Rip Sullivan, is an extreme risk protection order bill that would allow law enforcement to ask a judge to prevent someone deemed a danger to themselves or others from buying or possessing firearms. From Truman Lewis, Fairfax News:

“Not only would this bill help stop horrific events like school shootings, it will help address one of the less talked-about crises in Virginia – suicide by firearm. Evidence from other states shows that this type of bill saves lives while remaining consistent with the Second Amendment. It is long past time for us in the Commonwealth to pass this critical bill to curb the emergency that is preventable gun violence,” Sullivan said.

The bill will be introduced in the Senate by Senator George Barker (D-VA39). “No one should lose a child, a spouse, a parent, or a friend because we would not take a gun away temporarily from someone who was a risk to use that gun to kill,” said Barker, of Alexandria.

Sullivan, whose district includes parts of Arlington and McLean, introduced similar bills during the 2017 and 2018 sessions, and the 2019 version reflects input from stakeholders ranging from law enforcement officials to gun safety advocates.

So far, seven states have had some form of ERPO legislation introduced for the 2109 legislative session. LEAP Forward is tracking action on HB 1763 and is grading support for the bill.

New Hampshire Democrats Introduce Two Gun Regulation Bills by Charles Yeganian

HB 101 would allow a school district to adopt and enforce gun-free zones. Current state law gives the state Legislature exclusive control over gun-related legislation and restrictions, forbidding any local ordinances on the subject.

HB 101 would carve out an exemption from that law for school districts, administrative units or chartered public schools.

Sen. Martha Hennessey, D-Hanover, tried unsuccessfully to introduce such a bill last year, in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, but failed in party-line votes.

HB 109, which includes Hennessey as a Senate sponsor, would require background checks for all commercial firearms sales, including gun shows, in an attempt to close the so-called “gun show loophole.”

LEAP Forward is tracking both these bills and will be grading support for both.

Florida Republicans Propose "Campus Carry" by Charles Yeganian

In a move that could refuel a long-running debate, a House Republican on Thursday proposed a measure that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns on college and university campuses.

Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-the-Hills, filed the bill (HB 6007) for consideration during the 2019 legislative session, which starts March 5.

Under current law, people are barred from carrying guns on college and university campuses.

LEAP Forward is tracking HB 6007 and will be grading action on the bill.