America is now seeing a serious trend of renewed gun-control efforts being perpetuated on a compounding number of states since last October's Las Vegas massacre and the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in February. The onslaught has spread into the state legislatures and the anti-gunners are gaining ground at an alarming rate.
A growing number of states are either in the midst of, or looking at a future of new or renewed quests at more egregious gun control than ever. Following Florida's March 9 signing of various gun-control measures into law, here is the short list of the status of this new wave of state-level gun control:
- Oregon is in the midst of a battle of its own over what could be some of the most draconian gun control in the nation, ballot initiative Petition 43. This is in addition to the first round of knee-jerk gun-control bills being signed by its governor in early March, the first new gun law in the country since the Florida shootings. But, draconian proposals in play seek, among other things, to ban any pistol that is capable of accepting a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds (not just the magazines, the entire pistol), rifles that can accept a magazine and that have certain other "assault weapons" features, most semi-automatic shotguns, on all magazines over 10 rounds. They are proposing a 120-day time limit to either register their firearms, turn them in, destroy them, or transfer them out of state. Violators would instantly become felons. Upon detailed examination of the entire proposal filed with the Oregon Secretary of State's office on March 19, this ballot initiative would essentially ban entire classes of firearms and the majority of self-defense firearms. It has the weight and financial resources of several anti-gun organizations, including the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and Ceasefire. They are already in a race to get this on the ballot by July 6.
- Following the Las Vegas massacre and on the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting, democrats in Delaware proposed HB 300, which includes a ban on bump stocks and trigger cranks, raising the minimum age to buy a gun, as well as other gun control that passed its House in early March and is on the way through its Senate and to a governor that promises to sign that, plus attempt to ban "assault-style rifles."
- Massachusetts passed a ban on bump stocks in November 2017, being the first state to do so. In April, we are sending a writer to the headquarters of its state-level gun rights group, Gun Owners Action League (GOAL), to get the ground truth on what could be next.
- New Jersey's governor signed into law on January 16th a ban on bump stocks and other firearms accessories and components, with several penalties for non-compliance.
- The state of Washington is moving quickly towards a ban on bump stocks and similar devices, with its governor signing a law on March 6 that goes into effect July 1 and bans possession of them beginning in July 2019. Additional gun control is going through its legislature now.
- Rhode Island began its bump-stock ban initiatives immediately after the Las Vegas massacre, with its U.S. congressmen and senators acting at the federal level, while Governor Gina Raimondo signed an executive order to establish new policy regarding "red flag" regulations for gun possession.
- Illinois has a set of sweeping gun control bills in play. Its House passed a series of bills that are moving forward, including HB1465 (raises age to purchase), HB1467 (bump-stock ban, trigger-crank ban, and others), HB1468 (72-hour waiting period for assault-rifle sales), HB1469 (ban on high-capacity magazines and body armor), and HB1273 / SB1657 (Gun Dealer Licensing Act). However, on March 13, Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a draconian gun-dealer licensing bill, SB1657, that would have not only been redundant to federal regulation, but could have had a crushing effect on licensed gun dealers in the state.
- Connecticut, California, Indiana, and New York are in varying degrees joining the bandwagon of new gun control, with most of these also pursuing "red flag" laws or regulations.
- Bad news broke from Vermont on the afternoon of Friday, March 30. Both houses of the Vermont state legislature passed the first of several initiatives from the anti-gunners. Its Governor said that he supports the new bill and will sign it and two other gun-control measures coming right behind it, now in its legislature. The bill that just passed there is VERY bad, not just for Vermont, but for the nation, as some mirror-image gun control is also being attempted in Oregon, Washington, and elsewhere. The bill raised the age for gun purchases to 21 and bans magazines holding more than 10 rounds for rifles and 15 rounds for pistols, as well as bump stocks and similar devices. This is especially worrisome, being that Vermont has a combination of some of the least gun regulation, lowest crime, and least restrictive concealed carry in the nation. Could it be that the anti-gunners are going for the easiest targets first, where they can expedite anti-gun legislation more quickly, so that other states will follow? Vermont is a very symbolic target, as it has been touted for so long as a pro-gun state despite its liberal, socialist, and libertarian elements, most of whom are part-time residents, retirees, or transplants from New York and New Jersey (Senator Bernie Sanders is one of them - not originally from Vermont, but from Brooklyn, New York). Though it may be a small state with a miniscule population, the impart and impact of this could be extensive. The president of Gun Owners of Vermont is planning to sue over this new law as soon as it is signed.
- Seven states and Washington, D.C. have "assault weapons bans." There is much movement across the nation by affiliated anti-gun groups (democrats) on new initiatives.
On March 10, the Department of Justice submitted to the OMB a proposed regulation "to clarify that the National Firearms and Gun Control Act defines 'machinegun' to include bump stock type devices."
What has not been missed by us, is that we already know that national-level and state-level anti-gun groups and their lobbyists conducted extensive coordination and collusion on these initiatives, as well as cherry-picked previous attempts at the federal level and in other states, whether it has worked or not. Much of the language in these various state-level bills is "carbon copy" both from the recent attempts (i.e. bump stocks, age limit) and/or much older legislation attempted or completed at the federal level (AWB and others more recent).
The commonalities of all of these new anti-gun initiatives since the Las Vegas massacres are: (1) a focus on banning bump stocks and/or "assault weapons" (to include high-capacity firearms), with nearly all of the specifics from the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 finding their way all or in part into some state's proposals, and (2) the states appear to be moving either more quickly or with new initiatives since the White House's signaling a shift of its intentions in early March. Most of the legislation listed above had begun before the president's March 12 Tweet, yet nearly all of it bears the hallmarks of another coordinated attack on our rights.
Perhaps the strategy of the firearms-civil-rights-assaulting left/democrats, rather than attempt at the federal level, where most anti-gun legislation would be dead on arrival, is to employ at the state level the guerilla-warfare principle of "death by a thousand cuts."
Will these state-level gun-control initiatives take hold in furtherance of the "slippery slope" of the anti-civil-libertarian democrats and statists? Or, will the combination of RKBA efforts at the grassroots, state-level, and national-level associations fend off this new wave of attacks?
We will know the answer by any or all of the following future developments:
(1) How the previous and recent state-level gun-control schemes play out, as some could fail as have others in the past. (Though, with the catalyst of the more recent massacres and democrat party media blitz, we are already having setbacks, such as in Florida.)
(2) The upcoming NRA Annual Meeting & Exhibits, where the president and the NRA's leadership will both have to face its immense membership (and the TV cameras) amidst this tumult.
(3) The possibility that there will be more massacres before now and the mid-term elections. Looking at the history and frequency of these horrific events, and with most years over the past 25 having no fewer than five school shootings per year, it is possible that we will see more this year, while these various gun-control initiatives are going through the state legislatures and courts (note: there were 26 school shootings in 2013 alone).
(4) Finally, all of this will increasingly begin to be seen through the lens of politics, specifically, the upcoming 2018 midterm elections, the Trump Administration's successes versus deluge of destabilization by the "destroy Trump media," and whatever happens with the Special Counsel and other scandals that could throw off the "headspace and timing" of public opinion.
We are now analyzing this alarming trend and talking to activists at the state level to see where this is all going. The coming months will tell us a lot about the direction of firearms freedoms in America. Though many do not want to doubt the president and his administration just yet, we are also mindful that many are either not mindful of the lessons of history and/or act with aims of political expedience or possibly upon being given bad advice.
This is a matter of grave concern to liberty-loving Americans, as the Second Amendment, our firearms civil rights, and our ability to defend ourselves against harm and tyranny has cost us much blood and treasure to earn and keep. For gun owners nationwide who are not yet worried, they should be. This is not the time to let your guard down. Now, more than ever, we must keep fighting the good fight.
Having written previously in Firearms News and in our special editions of Be Ready! magazine, John Peterson is a former U.S. Army Special Forces soldier and professional instructor. He was a full-time instructor at the Smith & Wesson Academy and Sig Sauer Academy for three years each, followed by a tour in the war zone as a Special Forces soldier, then at the Department of Homeland Security, before becoming a contractor supporting the war effort, some of that overseas. Before all of this, he was a private investigator and served in the U.S. Army's Infantry under President Reagan. He has taught more than 60 types of courses and at 56 conferences to date, mostly in firearms, as well as in tactics, driving, antiterrorism, intelligence, and surveillance. He was heavily involved in the sniper community for over a decade. He is now chairman of a developing patriotic organization www.americanpreservationalliance.org. As an ardent defender and absolutist of the Second Amendment and a combat veteran, he is a life member of the NRA, Second Amendment Foundation, GOAL of Massachusetts, Gun Owners of New Hampshire, IACSP, Special Forces Association, Special Operations Association, and the VFW, as well as a member of the American Conservative Union, Heritage Foundation, USCCA, ITOA, NTOA, and several instructor and security associations. Find him at @jtfpeterson on Twitter / Instagram / Ricochet / Gab / AR15.com.