Laws increasing gun restrictions passed in record numbers across the country in 2018, more than tripling the number of such measures adopted in 2017 and signaling a shift in attitudes toward gun control in the wake of recent mass shootings, according to the advocacy group Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
Bills strengthening gun restrictions were signed into law in 26 states and the District of Columbia this year, with 75 new measures contained in 67 laws, according to the year-end report released this month. That’s a jump from the 22 gun control measures counted in 2017.
At least 277 laws tightening gun-related restrictions have been signed into law, in nearly every state, since the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., according to Giffords' yearly counts. But after that shooting, waves of gun-rights bills were passed, too-- the number surpassing bills restricting access to firearms.
This year marked a change, the new report indicated, with more gun-control laws enacted.
“After the deadliest mass shooting in American history late last year in Las Vegas and the Parkland massacre in February, the ground has finally shifted,” the report declared.
The National Rifle Association told The New York Times that 200 gun-control bills had been rejected in 2018 but did not provide data to back up the claim; NRA data did show that more gun-control than gun-rights bills were passed this year, according to the Times report.
The Giffords’ report is another indication that the February Parkland, Fla. shooting, where 17 were killed in a high school, created new momentum for the gun-control movement. The state-level legislative successes for gun-control supporters add to national victories in November by U.S. House candidates supporting “gun-sense” measures or campaigning on gun control.
It also suggests that one of the strategies advocated by gun-control supporters could pay off: seeking to strengthen gun-control laws at the state level even while Congress has not acted on the topic.