Tags: gun | control | newtown

Gun Rights Expanded in 10 States Since Newtown

Thursday, 04 Apr 2013 11:59 AM

By Cyrus Afzali

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Twice as many states have relaxed gun laws since the Newtown school massacre than those that have passed laws to tighten them, a report showed Thursday.

Ten states have passed 17 laws making it easier for people to get or carry firearms. Five states have introduced seven laws making it more difficult, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Among those relaxing gun restrictions is Arkansas, which eliminated prohibitions on carrying firearms in churches and college campuses.

South Dakota passed legislation allowing school boards to approve the arming of teachers and Tennessee approved legislation to allow individuals to bring guns to their workplace and store them in their private vehicles, even if their employer objects. Kentucky also passed a bill aimed at expediting the concealed carry permit process.

Gun control proponents have scored some wins, most notably in New York and in two states hit by mass shootings, Colorado and Connecticut. Colorado, scene of the Aurora theater shooting, now requires background checks for all firearm sales and limits the size of ammunition magazines.

On Thursday, Connecticut, the home state of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, passed legislation to expand its ban on certain semiautomatic weapons and to require universal background checks.

Across the nation, state lawmakers have introduced more than 500 gun-related bills this year, but bills expanding gun rights have been the clear winner thus far. This year, legislation expanding gun rights has passed legislatures in 15 states, while gun control legislation has been approved in only six, the Journal reported.

The fact that gun expansion legislation is winning out over gun restrictions serves as an illustration of the power of the National Rifle Association and other gun advocacy groups. The NRA says it is currently focusing its efforts on blocking new restrictions rather than expanding gun rights.

The battle also reflects a disagreement on how to best respond to tragedies, such as the Newtown shooting in which 20 first-graders and six teachers were shot and killed. While the NRA and other gun rights advocates believe arming school staff could prevent another similar tragedy, liberal groups have produced reports claiming more gun violence in states with lax firearms-control laws.

The Senate is expected to soon consider legislation requiring background checks for all gun sales, a measure that is opposed by most Republicans and some Democrats, despite public opinion polls that regularly show support from 90 percent of voters.

President Barack Obama has also called on Congress to renew the ban on assault rifles and a limit on high-capacity ammunition magazines, although current legislation doesn’t include these provisions. Even without those sticking point, the Senate’s bill is expected to face a tough route in the House.

Meanwhile, some national polls show a shift away from expanding gun control. Immediately following December’s shooting in Newtown, a CBS News poll found 57 percent favored expanding gun control laws. However, a similar survey in March showed support had dropped to 47 percent.

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