In Capitols and Courthouses, No End to National Divide Over Gun Policy

In less than a month, 19 children and two teachers died. Elementary school shooting Passed by the U.S. Senate last year in Uvalde, Texas The most important gun control bill Since the long-overdue federal ban on assault weapons.

That same day, June 23, the Supreme Court struck down some of the nation’s strictest gun laws, such as those in New York, Washington, D.C., and California, for the first time requiring people to carry guns outside their homes. has the right .

In a country already angry over gun policy, new legislation from Congress and a major Supreme Court decision have intensified the national fight against guns, prompting new legal challenges in courts and statehouses across the country. And legislative debates have been fueled.

And in the year since Uewald — the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 massacre in Newtown, Conn. — both sides of the issue have made gains and suffered losses as they define the role of guns in American life. Trying to do.

From Colorado to Michigan to New Jersey, gun control advocates have passed laws aimed at limiting access to firearms or ending the effects of the Supreme Court case, New York State Rifle and Pistol Association Inc. v. Bron. Is.

Opponents have moved quickly to challenge many such restrictions, using Braun as the basis for one court challenge after another. And in states that were already gun-friendly, gun rights groups have worked to further expand access to firearms.

In April, Florida became the largest state outside of Texas. Eliminate permit requirements.Join this vast swath of the country where it’s easier than ever to own a gun.

Even with such drastic changes, gun control advocates say their side is getting stronger. They point to legislative successes and polls that show growing public support for some measure of regulation. This was revealed in a survey released Wednesday by NPR, PBS and Marist College. 60 percent of AmericansIncluding 4 in 10 who own guns, think controlling gun violence is more important than protecting gun rights.

In the past week, Minnesota and Michigan became the 20th and 21st states to introduce red flag laws designed to keep drugs out of the hands of people who are at risk of harming themselves or others. In New York last August, the state established gun-free zones. In sensitive areas like Times Square. And in New Jersey in December, the governor signed a long list of places where guns would be banned.

Court challenges to some of these laws are underway. In New York, a federal judge blocked parts of the law, but it remains in effect while the state appeals. And just last week, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction. Blocking many provisions of New Jersey law. The judge said the state could not ban guns in many of the settings specified in the new law, including bars, doctor’s offices and zoos, although private business owners could choose to do so.

Dudley Brown, president of the National Association for Gun Rights, which opposes any restrictions on gun ownership, said Brown’s decision was unconstitutional and would expose his organization to many lawsuits against gun restrictions. It will help to win.

But he said that even with Braun’s ruling, a monumental Supreme Court victory, there will be years of fighting in state legislatures and lower courts that will now have to interpret the decision. “It often feels like one step forward, two steps back,” he said.

Public opinion has long supported restricting access to guns, with a share of Americans saying “laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more stringent,” according to Gallup. After the Uvalde shooting, the share increased to two-thirds of Americans.

And gun control advocates have learned from their defeats, organizing and building political structures. “I worked in Congress for many years. I’ve never been lobbied by a representative of a gun safety organization,” said Peter Ambler, referring to the group he now directs, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which supports limiting access to firearms. Now, Mr. Ambler said, such organizations have public opinion on their side and influence on Capitol Hill.

Mass shootings have sparked days of intense protests in statehouses where gun rights have long been enshrined, such as Austin, Texas, where families of Uwold victims waited long to testify. , and Nashville, where Thousands of people shouted For the Assault Weapons Ban, the Red Flag Law and other gun control measures that followed Three adults and three children were shot dead by an assailant at Covenant School. in March.

Proponents of gun regulation say red flag laws could have prevented the shooting in Nashville, including The police identified the accused He was treated for an emotional disorder and had recently purchased seven guns.

But the Legislature took no further action. ousting two Democratic lawmakers who took the protest to the chamber floor. Now Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, is saying he will call lawmakers into a special session in August to address public safety. “There is broad agreement that action is needed,” the governor said in a statement.

Even when modest measures like these don’t yield results, gun-regulation advocates see glimpses of progress, as when Republicans in a Texas legislative committee voted. For passage of a bill to raise the minimum age to purchase assault weaponsjust to prevent it from reaching the floor.

We’ve seen these cracks emerge among elected Republicans,” Mr. Ambler said. Advocates today contrast the political calculus with another moment when a horrific shooting was met with calls for action: Sandy in Newtown. Hook School Shooting.

A federal bill to expand background checks was defeated, with some Democrats in Congress breaking ranks to vote no. Last summer, it was the other way around: 14 Republicans broke with their party to vote for a federal gun bill, called the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

Some gun control advocates argue that efforts to make guns easier to carry can go hand in hand with measures that keep guns out of the hands of those who intend to do harm.

“Laws that actually use the scalpel to identify risk, and laws that can prevent that risk from turning into disaster, are the most important things to focus on,” said John Feinblatt. , president of Every Town for Gun Safety, a gun control group. Founded by billionaire media magnate and former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “This cannot be a referendum on gun ownership. This is a referendum on safety.”

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