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Newly empowered Democrats target gun control in state legislatures

PoliticsElectionsNewly empowered Democrats target gun control in state legislatures
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For nearly a decade, Republicans have successfully blocked bills tightening gun control in Minnesota and Michigan.

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But with Democrats taking full control of both states in November, these proposals are on the fast track, expected to become law within a few weeks – a sign of just how empowered the newlyweds are. Liberal lawmakers in those states and elsewhere are pushing gun legislation themselves amid the latest wave of mass shootings.

In Minnesota, where Democrats flipped the state Senate, lawmakers are scheduled to hold a hearing this month on bills requiring safe storage of firearms and universal background checks for gun purchases. They will also consider extreme-risk protection orders, which are often called “Red Flag Law,” which prohibits anyone who is deemed to be a danger to himself or others from possessing a gun.

A similar package of gun legislation will be voted on this month in Michigan, where Democrats left both chambers last month after a mass shooting at Michigan State University that left three students dead and five seriously injured. they were finished. Democrats are also proposing comprehensive gun control bill packages in Maryland and Massachusetts, both blue states where they wrested control of the governor’s office in November.

“We’re in a unique position right now to do something about this,” Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist II (D) said Wednesday of the state’s gun law. “This moment is the opportunity and the leaders are in place now that Michigan voters decided to make room for a time like this. This is our moment to act and we will.

However, there is a movement Gun control laws are facing an unprecedented legal threat due to last year’s Supreme Court ruling that struck down a New York law prohibiting concealed weapons. is said to have ruled in a case New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen has sparked a new nationwide influx of legal challenges to long-established gun restrictions and left courts unclear on which laws should stand.

“I guarantee that all of these laws will be challenged on Second Amendment grounds,” said Jacob D. Charles, a professor at Pepperdine University who specializes in firearms law. “A lot of laws that were previously thought to be constitutional are suddenly thrown into doubt because of the Bruen ruling. And if a judge decides to order the law during a challenge, it can take years for it to take effect.

Even Republicans are excited by that decision Pushing to expand gun rights in states where they control both state chambers and the governor’s office. Overall, Republicans control 22 states and Democrats control 17, while control is split among 10 states.

The Nebraska legislature introduced a bill last week that would allow people to carry concealed weapons without a state permit and without passing a gun safety course. Last week in Idaho, the House passed two bills to ban taxpayer money from businesses boycotting the firearms industry.

November’s elections turned upside down for Democrats, who have long trailed the GOP in down-ballot races for state offices. In Michigan, Minnesota, Maryland, and Massachusetts, Democrats secured the new trifecta of both chambers and the governor’s office. The last time Democrats controlled both the legislature and the governor’s office was in Michigan in 1983, and the last time in Minnesota in 2014.

It has enabled lawmakers to advance long-stale bills on everything from expanding affordable housing to ensuring abortion rights. According to the States Project, a national Democratic group that helped fund candidates in two states, the Minnesota Senate and the Michigan House passed more bills in January than in the first month of the previous six sessions combined.

This change is particularly heavy on gun law. During the last legislative session, More than 100 gun control bills were introduced in those states, according to the Giffords Law Center on Preventing Gun Violence. They all failed—and few received a hearing.

Minnesota State Representative Dave Pinto (D) said, “For several years now, we’ve had these bills passed in the House — Extreme Risk Protection Orders, universal background checks — but have been blocked by the Republican-controlled Senate.” “The change is that we can actually listen to and consider our bills in ways we never could before.”

Everytown for Gun Safety has also played a role in advancing Michigan and Minnesota firearms legislation. In That November, members of its volunteer wing – Moms Demand Action – won 89 seats in state legislatures. Nine of those new lawmakers are in Michigan, six in Minnesota.

John Feinblatt, president of Everytown, said, “One of the reasons we have the trifecta in Michigan and Minnesota is because our own volunteers ran for office and won.” “By flipping those states it opens the way to pass important legislation that has stalled in the past.”

Democrats are also acting in the wake of the Bruin ruling To protect existing laws from new legal challenges. in five In states with gun permit laws similar to the standard overturned by the Supreme Court in New York, lawmakers are working to create new rules that can pass legal muster, as well as new restrictions on carrying weapons in places like courtrooms or public parks. Can ban.

T. Christian Henne, vice president of policy at Brady United Against Guns, said, “All six affected states have introduced public carry bills that will ensure they are protecting their citizens, based on the Supreme Court ruling. ” violence, which helped draft the law.

State gun rights groups are stepping up efforts to defeat the bills in newly Democratic state legislatures.

Minnesota Gun Rights has set up a form letter for members and claims to be “mounting the greatest defense of our Second Amendment that Minnesota has ever seen”. The Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners says it is lobbying against the measures there, noting that its “biggest concern is Republican legislators trading their votes on gun control bills. However, any Republican No indication of the date of the defection has been found.

The bill’s authors say that although Democrats have the power to eventually act on the longstanding legislation, efforts will fail without party unity in narrowly controlled legislatures.

Pinto, a Democratic lawmaker from Minnesota, said bipartisan gun control laws are passed only after high-profile mass shootings. For that reason, he believes Michigan may have an easier time passing bills that aren’t strictly along party lines.

“We really can’t count on a single Republican vote,” Pinto said. “They’ve made that really clear over the years and continue to do so. We have a majority, but it’s by a very small margin. So, you know, nothing’s a slam dunk.”

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