Parkland +365: Reasons for hope; reasons for despair.
We all want instant results, and we’re all frustrated by the lack of adequate gun legislation in the year that has elapsed since the murders in Parkland.
But we have to recognize also that there has been progress. Of the 133 bills considered by legislatures last year, 96% were enacted. Not all of them, unfortunately, were favorable to reducing gun usage and violence, but here are some that were:
California now allows for a colleague, mental health worker, or school employee to request a gun violence restraining order.
Connecticut banned bump stocks. (Remember, Connecticut’s gun laws are among the nation’s strictest.)
Colorado strengthened the crime of burglary of firearms to a class-3 felony and increased the minimum fine to $5,000.
Delaware set out procedures for seizing firearms and ammunition from individuals who are mentally ill and potentially dangerous to self or others.
Georgia increased criminal penalties to people who knowingly give guns to ineligible felons.
Louisiana undertook a blizzard of legislation, including disallowing retired officers who resigned amid a serious misconduct investigation from gaining concealed carry IDs. Louisiana also brought state law in line with federal law, declaring that anyone who has been found not guilty by reason of insanity automatically loses the right to possess firearms. (The person can petition for review after 10 years.)
New Jersey adopted the federal definition of armor piercing ammunition and made it a crime to possess or manufacture it.
And Florida, the home to Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High school, under relentless and vocal student pressure did enact a three-day waiting period for gun purchases, and also created risk protection orders allowing police to seize guns from persons who are deemed threats to themselves or others.
So there's that...but before you go drawing a smiley face on your NRA membership card, don’t forget some of these little gems:
Tennessee exempted applicants for handgun carry-permits if they've completed a department of corrections firearms qualification in the last five years. The state also allows county commissioners who have permits to carry handguns in buildings in which the commission meetings are held—giving point-of-order a whole new meaning.
West Virginia bars business owners from barring legal guns in their cars in the parking lot; providing immunity and liability limits. (What's the fun of eating a DQ Blizzard in you car without a gun?)
South Dakota now allows people to carry guns for self-defense in private schools and churches. (Please use your trigger to open your hymnal.)
In a bit of a head-scratcher, Idaho now allows retired attorneys to teach enhanced concealed weapons courses.
And Iowa, just to prove that lunacy exists outside the White House, enacted legislation that allows people to openly carry firearms while operating or riding in snowmobiles and ATVs. A biathlon for idiots.
Fourteen students were massacred last Valentine’s Day in Parkland, Florida. Since then 1200 more children have died from gun violence. We could have done better, and with two parties in Washington, maybe we will. But getting these numbers to zero—which can be the only legitimate goal—is going to be a long slog at the rate...and consistency...with which we try to move forward.