September 24, 2019

States With Weak Gun Laws Suffer From More Gun Violence

States with tough gun laws have far less gun crime than states with strict gun laws

Washington—As the House Judiciary Committee prepares to hold a hearing on federal Assault Weapons Ban legislation on September 25, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement on misinformation spread by the National Rifle Association:

            “The NRA says we shouldn’t have any laws restricting gun ownership because criminals don’t follow laws. By that logic we should get rids of laws criminalizing murder, assault and robbery because criminals don’t follow those laws either. It’s an absurd argument and shouldn’t be given the time of day,” Feinstein said.

            Feinstein continued: “We know that there’s no single solution to our gun-violence epidemic, but there are ideas out there that will help save lives. And if we can save even one life, it’s worth the effort. We can’t let the NRA and gun manufacturers dictate our gun laws. Congress has to step up and act.”

NRA myth: The NRA says we shouldn’t have any gun laws because criminals don’t follow gun laws.

Fact: No single law will stop all crime, that’s not how laws work. But the evidence points to gun safety laws working to curb gun violence.

  • study by the Center for American Progress found the 10 states with the weakest gun laws (Kansas, Mississippi, Wyoming, Arizona, Alaska, Idaho, Louisiana, Kentucky, Vermont and Missouri) had three times more gun violence than the 10 states with the toughest gun laws (California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Hawaii, Illinois, Rhode Island and Delaware).
  • One John Hopkins University study found that when Connecticut implemented a requirement to have a permit to purchase a gun, gun homicides dropped by 40 percent. When Missouri repealed a similar law, gun homicides rose 25 percent.

Feinstein gun safety bills

            Senator Feinstein has introduced several pieces of legislation during the 116th Congress related to gun safety reform.

Assault Weapons Ban Act

  • Senator Feinstein in January 2019 introduced the Assault Weapons Ban, an updated bill to ban the sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
  • The bill, which currently has 34 Senate cosponsors, bans 205 military-style assault weapons by name. It also bans any weapon that accepts a detachable ammunition magazine and has one or more military characteristics including a pistol grip, a forward grip, a barrel shroud, a threaded barrel or a folding or telescoping stock.
  • The bill also bans magazines and other ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, which allow shooters to quickly fire many rounds without needing to reload.
  • One update to the bill would allow, though not mandate, federal funds from the Justice Department’s Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program to be used to buy back assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. The funds provide an incentive to retire weapons and accessories already in circulation.

Extreme Risk Protection Order Act

  • Senator Feinstein in February 2019 introduced a bill to help states develop court processes that allow family members to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals.
  • The Extreme Risk Protection Order Act would allow states to use funds from the Justice Department’s COPS program to develop court processes that would allow family members to petition a court for a gun violence prevention order to temporarily block dangerous individuals from purchasing weapons from federally licensed dealers. If a prevention order were granted, the individual would be designated a prohibited purchaser in the NICS background check system.
  • States could also develop court processes that would allow family members to petition a court for an extreme risk protection order that would grant law enforcement the authority to temporarily take weapons from dangerous individuals who present a threat to themselves or others. The bill contains significant due process protections by ensuring confidentiality and the opportunity to be heard by a judge.

Age 21 Act

  • Senator Feinstein in May 2019 introduced the Age 21 Act, a bill to raise the minimum age to purchase assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines from 18 to 21.
  • Under current federal law, an individual is required to be at least 21 years old in order to legally purchase a handgun but only 18 years of age to legally purchase an assault rifle like the AR-15 used in the Poway shooting.
  • The bill, which Senator Feinstein initially introduced in 2018 with Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), creates parity in federal firearms law by prohibiting the sale of assault weapons to individuals under 21.

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