The federal government may have come to a crossroads over gun legislation, but in many state legislatures across the country are picking up the slack.
Despite failed attempts to push comprehensive background checks through Congress, local governments have instituted a range of new laws which are taking effect this week.
Last weekend, Vice President Joe Biden emailed supporters urging them to contact their representatives to ask them to support gun safety legislation. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly are traveling around the country in an effort to renew interest in gun control. Yet, after a failed Senate vote in April of this year, Congress has no scheduled plans to revisit the issue.
But at the state level, there has been a flurry of gun-related legislation. While only a handful of states enacted new limits, and many others have loosened their gun laws. With July 1 marking the start of a new fiscal year, most of these state laws went into effect this week.
At least 18 states, including those detailed below, have instituted new gun laws this month. Here are highlights of some of the new laws across the country:
Colorado: After months of heated debate, new limits on ammunition capacities (15 rounds) and universal background requirements have gone into effect in the state which witnessed the mass murder of 12 people at an Aurora movie theater last summer. There have been continued challenges to the new laws and sheriffs in Colorado filed a federal lawsuit saying that the bills would be nearly impossible to enforce. A Colorado gun company even hosted a “Farewell to Arms” fair to give away free 20 and 30 round magazines before the ban on their sale was in place.
Connecticut: Less than one year after the Newtown school massacre, Connecticut now requires new credentials to purchase long guns and ammunition. In addition, a longer wait-time has been established for those with mental illness seeking gun permits. A renewed focus on the state’s gun possession and trafficking laws comes as $1 million was appropriated to better enforce those laws. In response to the new regulations, at least one Connecticut gun manufacturer is moving its headquarters to South Carolina where there are more lenient laws.
Kansas: In Kansas, school employees can now carry concealed handguns. This new law allows permit holders to bring their weapons into state and municipal buildings where previously concealed guns were banned unless a public notice was displayed. The state has also reclassified the crime of stealing firearms as a felony rather than a misdemeanor, no matter the value of the gun.
Mississippi: The Magnolia State’s law makes it legal for anyone to openly carry a gun with no permit whatsoever— including at schools and universities. Since the law was scheduled to take effect on Monday, there has been a dispute among officials. A county circuit judge issued an injunction to delay the law and Attorney General Jim Hood has asked the Supreme Court to overturn the injunction. But the state of the law is in limbo as many offices are closed for the Fourth of July holiday.
Tennessee: The Volunteer State has modified its gun laws to allow people with permits to leave their handguns in their car anywhere they park. Before this law, employers were allowed to ban firearms in their parking lots. It is unclear how this might impact employment law in the state.
Virginia: The Commonwealth suffered through a school shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007, and has also adjusted its gun laws. The state now has a minimum one-year prison sentence for anyone who buys firearms intending to resell the weapon to a person prohibited from possessing a gun. Another one of their new laws, however, removes public access to records of concealed handgun permits.