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Gun Laws By State: How 2nd Amendment Impacts Lawmakers Outside Washington

Image: Gun Laws By State: How 2nd Amendment Impacts Lawmakers Outside Washington
United States Capitol. (wikimedia/commons)

By    |   Sunday, 07 Dec 2014 02:38 PM

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives citizens the broad right to keep and bear arms, while individual states fill in the gaps of the federal gun laws.

As states wrestle with legislation that balances responsible gun control with civil liberties, a correlation exists between states with the strictest laws and the lowest gun death rates, according to a study conducted by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

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Last month, Washington state voters passed Initiative 594, which requires background checks on all sales and transfers, including private transactions, with few exceptions. With the law, Washington became the seventh state — after California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New York, and Rhode Island — to require universal background checks for sales and transfers of all firearms, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

State laws differ across borders in content and level of restriction, though 44 states have a law in their constitutions similar to the Second Amendment. Those that don't are: California, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York, according to UCLA Law.

Generally, states laws vary the most in the following firearm-related areas:
  • Requiring a license or permit to buy or own a firearm
  • Whether to register a firearm with a law-enforcement agency
  • Most states allow residents to carry an unconcealed firearm in public or in a vehicle, in some capacity.
  • Some states permit local municipalities to pass more restrictive laws than their state equivalents. Memphis, Tennessee, for example, decided against a law that allowed guns in parks and other public places, though the state Senate recently eliminated the opt-out provision.
  • Some states place increased restrictions on semiautomatic firearms, or "assault weapons," or on magazines capable of holding more than a designated number of rounds of ammunition.
  • "Stand your ground laws" laws exist in Florida and other states, in which a person can legally use deadly force in self-defense situations. This defense was successfully applied when George Zimmerman shot and killed teenager Trayvon Martin.
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Making sense of the statewide differences, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence studied the laws in all 50 states. They then ranked them based on 30 legislative approaches to guns and ammunition regulation, including background checks, reporting lost or stolen weapons, and prohibiting dangerous people from buying firearms.

The study found that eight states — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York — have passed major gun reforms to lower gun violence since the December 2012 mass shooting in Newtown Connecticut, according to analysis.

Overall, California, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York received an "A" grade for having the country's strictest regulations, while 26 states earned an "F" for laws that severely favor gun advocates.

This article does not constitute legal advice. Check the current gun laws before purchasing or traveling with a firearm.

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The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives citizens the broad right to keep and bear arms, while individual states fill in the gaps of the federal gun laws.
gun, laws, by state, 2nd amendment, outside, washington
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2014-38-07
Sunday, 07 Dec 2014 02:38 PM
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