The new year started out with numerous gun bills being introduced at the state level. The biggest news is in Illinois, where Gov. JB Pritzker quickly approved an assault weapons ban after it was passed by the state legislature. Federal courts have also made some significant moves. For instance, the Supreme Court refused to block New York’s controversial Concealed Carry Improvement Act, while a federal judge temporarily blocked a portion of a New Jersey law that restricts carry in certain locations. On the business side of things, the financial service company Wells Fargo boldly declared that it is going to cut ties with gun dealers. Actor Alec Baldwin and Rust’s weapons specialist and assistant director will face charges for the death of the film’s cinematographer. Interested in seeing what other news you might have missed? Check out what else is trending in the news below.
New York Ban Stands
Earlier this month, a U.S. District judge ruled the gun-free zone covering several blocks in Manhattan does not violate the Second Amendment. Citing two founding-era bans on taking guns to fairs or markets and several late 19th-century laws, the judge determined there was a historical tradition in line with the standard set by Supreme Court’s Buren ruling. New York’s prohibition against carrying in the subway system was similarly defended.
The Reload, New York
New Mexico to Require Safe Storage
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed House Bill 9 into law on March 14. Also known as “Bennie’s Bill” for Bennie Hargrove, a middle school student killed by another student who had taken his father’s firearm, makes it a crime to negligently store a firearm and allow a child to misuse it.
New Mexico Political Report, New Mexico
President Biden’s Executive Order
During a visit to Monterey Park, where 11 people were killed at a Lunar New Year gathering this year, President Biden signed an executive order designed to increase background checks. The executive order does not change government policy or create new laws. It is directing federal agencies to ensure compliance with existing laws. Biden said the order is aimed at strengthening background checks and promoting more secure firearm storage. The order directs Attorney General Merrick Garland to clarify the definition of who is “engaged in the business” of selling firearms. It also directs the Cabinet to complete a plan to better structure the government to support communities suffering from gun violence.
Montana Constitutional Carry
Since February 2021, permitless concealed carry has been allowed in the state of Montana by House Bill 102. And earlier this month, the house judiciary held a hearing on House Bill 551, which is meant to implement constitutional carry into the state constitution. Opponents claim the bill is unnecessary and worry it will put guns into the hands of the wrong people. Supporters, however, say it is a necessary step to prevent anti-gun politicians from repealing HB 102.
Michigan Expands Gun Control
Following last month’s shooting at Michigan State University, the Michigan Senate approved an 11-bill package with several gun safety measures. The package includes bills that would expand background check requirements for firearms purchases, allow for extreme risk protection orders and require guns to be secured if kept in homes with children. The Michigan House approved similar bills earlier in the month. The chambers now have to agree on which versions of legislation to send to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Detroit News, Michigan
Teaching Firearms Safety in School
Rep. Selina Bliss (R-Prescott) sponsored Arizona House Bill 2332, requiring students in public middle and high schools to learn about firearms. The bill would mandate schools offer a 30- to 60-minute one-time session for children. Opponents of the bill worry this training will take away from already limited school resources, but supporters argue this valuable training could prevent accidental deaths.
KTAR News, Arizona
Carry on Campus Allowed in West Virginia
On March 1, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill allowing concealed carry permit holders to carry firearms onto public college and university campuses. Presidents of West Virginia’s largest institutions opposed the bill as it moved through the legislature, arguing the decision to allow guns on campuses should be left to the schools. The law will take effect in July 2024.
ABC News, West Virginia
California Permits Cost Big Money
The police department of Los Angeles County suburb La Verne announced this month that it would open an application process for city residents. However, that process is lengthy and includes a department-approved psychological screening as well as a series of fees totaling more than $1,000. And renewals will cost nearly $650 every two years. California Rifle & Pistol Association has already sent a letter to the city asking it to reduce its fees or face CRPA in court.
The Reload, California
Illinois Counties Oppose Assault Weapons Ban
On Feb. 21, the McHenry County Board, in an 11-6 vote, passed a resolution opposing the assault weapons ban. The board members called for the law to be repealed and the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office to take legal action.
Two days later, the Knox County Board, in a 9-5 vote, approved a resolution that opposed the assault weapons ban in Illinois and designated the county a “sanctuary county.” The board members requested that the Illinois General Assembly stop any actions that would restrict the right of the people to keep and bear arms or actions that would require the surrender of previously authorized firearms and firearms paraphernalia. It also asked Gov. JB Pritzker (D) to veto any legislation that restricts gun owners’ Second Amendment rights.
Lake & McHenry County Scanner, Illinois
Illinois Assault Weapons Ban in Court
There are several ongoing federal and state court cases challenging the Illinois assault weapons ban.
On Feb. 14, a federal judge ruled that a city ordinance banning the sale of assault weapons in Naperville can be enforced by law enforcement.
Ten days later, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois consolidated four court cases challenging the assault weapons ban. One of the cases was transferred from state court to federal court. Oral arguments have been scheduled for April 12.
On March 2, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Illinois State Police Director Brendan Kelly filed a 72-page brief in the Southern District of Illinois in response to the four federal lawsuits that were consolidated.
A day later, a Macon County judge declared the ban unconstitutional, setting up a direct appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court. Attorney General Raoul immediately appealed the ruling to the Illinois Supreme Court. The Supreme Court agreed to fast-track the state’s appeal. Oral arguments have been scheduled for May.
On March 7, in response to the federal judge’s ruling in Naperville in February, attorneys filed a motion with the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals asking it to issue an injunction, forbidding any police or other government agency in Illinois from enforcing the ban.
AB7 Chicago, Illinois
Lake & McHenry County Scanner, Illinois
Chicago-Sun Times, Illinois
The Center Square, Illinois
WQAD News 8, Illinois
Cook County Record, Illinois
Washington State Aims to Ban All Guns
Gun Owners of America has warned that House Bill 1240 in Washington State would ban the sale of 90 percent of firearms. The bill’s purpose is to create a definition of “assault weapon.” It lists 62 rifles by name as well as applying to any semi-automatic rifle with an overall length of less than 30 inches.
Firearms Banned in ‘Sensitive Places’ Around Palo Alto
The Palo Alto City Council passed an emergency and standard ordinance banning concealed firearms on all city-owned property, active polling places and schools — public or private. The emergency ordinance will take effect immediately, while the standard ordinance is open for amendments and public comment.
Colorado Restricts Firearms to 21 or Older
Democratic members of the Colorado Senate are introducing legislation to limit firearms purchases and possession to people 21 or older. The bill will include some exemptions, such as for hunters using single-shot rifles, military members, sport shooters and shooters under supervised possession. Currently, only six states and Washington D.C. restrict rifle ownership.
The Denver Post, Colorado
Fifth Circuit Allows Alleged Abusers Access to Firearms
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, has ruled that a federal law barring people under domestic violence restraining orders from possessing guns is unconstitutional. According to research from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, risk of homicide in a domestic violence situation increases by 500 percent if a gun is present. The 5th Circuit determined the law was unconstitutional because it lacked an adequate parallel to firearms regulations at the time of the Constitution’s framing, a historical test laid out by the Supreme Court’s opinion in NYSRPA v. Bruen.
Senate Republicans Take On Big Banks
Sen. Kevin Cramer introduced the Fair Access to Banking Act, S.293, this month. If passed, it would work to end discriminatory lending practices of major banking institutions. The Fair Access to Banking Act would require banks to provide access to services, capital and cred based solely on objective risk assessment of individual customers rather than subjective decisions affecting whole categories of customers.
U.S. Senators Introduce ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban
Twenty-eight senators introduced legislation to ban “high-capacity” magazines. The bill, known as the Keep Americans Safe Act, aims to restrict the importation, sale, manufacturing, transfer or possession of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. If passed, it would also authorize a buyback program and grandfather in magazines purchased before the law takes effect.
Oregon’s Tighter Gun Laws Blocked
In the November election, Oregon voters approved Ballot Measure 114, meant to “tighten” gun laws in the state. If courts allow the measure to pass, it would require a permit to purchase a firearm, ban magazines that hold more than 10 rounds and close what’s known as the Charleston Loophole, which allows a firearm sale or transfer to be completed if a background check isn’t complete after three days. The Oregon Supreme Court denied a petition to overturn a lower court’s ruling to block the new gun laws. Ballot Measure 114’s provisions remain blocked pending a hearing on its constitutionality.
Oregon Public Broadcasting, Oregon
San Francisco Issues Concealed Carry Permit (It’s a Big Deal)
Seven months after the NYSRPA v. Bruen Supreme Court ruling, San Francisco issued its first concealed carry permit. Following the June ruling, the sheriff’s office received dozens of applications. San Francisco has a history of granting minimal permits due to strict requirements. In 1995, the city issued only 13 permits.
Washington Examiner, California
New Jersey Concealed Carry Restrictions Blocked
A federal judge ruled New Jersey cannot enforce its new concealed carry restrictions at parks, beaches, recreation facilities and casinos. The ruling by Judge Renee Marie Bumb is only temporary. Bumb said the new law “essentially renders the entire state of New Jersey a ‘sensitive place’ where firearms are prohibited.”
North Jersey, New Jersey
Florida Discusses Constitutional Carry
Florida House Speaker Paul Renner and other lawmakers announced House Bill 543 to allow permitless concealed carry. If passed, Florida would become the 26th state with constitutional carry. Gov. Ron DeSantis said if the bill passes, he would sign the legislation.
Legal Marijuana Users May Be Allowed Firearms
A federal judge in Oklahoma concluded the federal law prohibiting marijuana users from possessing firearms is unconstitutional. Judge Patrick Wyrick dismissed an indictment against a man charged in August with violating the ban on marijuana users. Wyrick cited last year’s NYSRPA vs. Bruen ruling, which significantly expanded gun rights.
Guns in School Zones Debated in Kentucky
Passed in 1990, the Gun Free School Zone Act is a federal law that prohibits possession of a firearm within a school zone and its 1,000-foot surrounding area. The Kentucky Concealed Carry Coalition Inc. sued the city of Pikeville after the Appalachian Wireless Arena posted notices that permitted concealed carriers could be subject to criminal penalties under federal law for carrying their firearms.
The notices were posted due to the arena’s frequent hosting of various high school athletic events. The appeals court determined the city’s posting of notices “went far beyond a simple notification of the statutory language,” acting as a “blanket prohibition.” The city, however, appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court. The court has not set a timetable for its decision.
Courthouse News, Kentucky
California Passes More Gun Control
Following the mass shooting in Monterey Park, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a series of gun-control measures. Of the approximately half a dozen measures passed in the package, two are expected to soon take effect: a prohibition on the sale of .50 caliber handguns and a measure prohibiting the carry of firearms on county property, including beaches, parks and buildings.
Illinois Weapons Ban Still Blocked
The gun-control bill Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed on January 10 that bans the sale and distribution of ‘assault weapons’ and ‘high-capacity’ magazines remains on its temporary restraining order. The state lost an appeal on Effingham County Judge Joshua Morrison’s ruling.
Illinois Sheriff Will Enforce Weapons Ban (If Upheld in Court)
After calling the Illinois “assault weapons” ban unconstitutional, DuPage County Sheriff James Mendrick has said he will enforce it should the law be implemented. Mendrick pointed out deputies would not be “out proactively to take your lawfully owned guns.” Instead, penalties would be enhanced for using banned guns in the commission of crimes.
Fox News, Illinois
Alabama Punishes Concealed Carriers
Permitless carry was signed into law in Alabama in March of 2022 and went into effect January 1. Through several amendments, the law created an obligation for concealed carriers to inform law enforcement of the presence of a firearm. Rep. Chris England (D-Tuscaloosa) has now pre-filed a bill to create criminal punishments for failing to declare. HB-12 would make failing to declare a Class A misdemeanor, carrying a potential punishment of one year in jail and a fine of up to $6,000.
1819 News, Alabama
Illinois Bans ‘Assault Weapons’ and Accessories
Gov. JB Pritzker of Illinois signed the state’s assault weapons ban hours after it was approved by the House on January 10. Illinois is the ninth state to outlaw so-called “assault weapons.” The law takes effect immediately and bans the sale of high-capacity magazines — more than 10 rounds for long guns and more than 15 rounds for handguns — and rapid-fire devices.
Three lawsuits, at least, have been filed to stop the law from being enforced. Two have been filed in state court, and the latest has been filed in federal court by the Illinois State Rifle Association. In Effingham County, Tom DeVore filed the suit on behalf of hundreds of plaintiffs and is seeking an immediate temporary restraining order. The suit says the way the law was adopted is unconstitutional. An emergency hearing was held January 18. As well, several county sheriffs have publicly vowed not to enforce the new law.
On January 20, a judge granted a temporary restraining order, stating, “The defendants in this case did not follow the procedural requirements…”. The attorney general’s office has filed a notice of appeal.
Wells Fargo Cuts Ties With Gun Dealers
After 25 years with a personal account and 14 with a business account, Brandon Wexler, owner of Wex Gunworks in Florida, had his Wells Fargo bank accounts canceled. The bank sent letters stating, “Banking guidelines excludes lending to certain types of businesses,” but no further explanation. Wells Fargo denied the decision being based on Wexler’s industry. However, the nation’s largest banks have been actively cutting ties with gun makers and dealers for years.
The Reload, Florida
Supreme Court Refuses to Block New York Gun Law
The Supreme Court has denied two emergency petitions in New York. Without explanation, the Court decided not to act on blocking the implementation of New York’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act upon request of gun dealers from the state. Upon refusing to act in Antonyuk v. Nigrelli, which challenged carry restrictions, Justices Alito and Thomas cited their faith in lower court to handle the matter first but did say the latest laws present “novel and serious questions.”
National Review, New York
Alec Baldwin Charged with Manslaughter
Both Alec Baldwin and the weapons specialist on set of Rust will be charged with involuntary manslaughter. Assistant director David Halls, who handed Baldwin the gun, signed an agreement to plead guilty to negligent use of a deadly weapon.
AP News, New Mexico
Appeals Court Strikes Down Bump Stock Ban
On January 6, a federal appeals court in New Orleans struck down a Trump administration ban on bump stocks. The case did not invoke the Second Amendment, but instead the interpretation of federal statutes. Opponents of the ban argued bump stocks do not fall under the definition of illegal machine guns in federal law. This decision does not have an immediate effect as it will move back to the lower courts to decide on how to proceed. The issue is likely to be decided by the Supreme Court after several challenges in lower courts.
Gun Policies of Less Interest in 2023
A pull by the Associate Press shows the desire for government action on guns has dropped 11 points since June 2022. Only 19 percent of Americans said they want the government to work on gun issues in the coming year. Concerns over crime and violence are also decreasing in America, correlating with the drop in gun policy interest. Economic issues were top priorities in both June and the most recent poll.
Judge Blocks Portion of New Jersey’s Restrictive Gun Law
In early January, a federal judge temporarily blocked part of a New Jersey law prohibiting the carry of guns in certain parts of the state. The temporary restraining order was specifically for a section of the law that bans guns from being carried in public libraries or museums, bars or restaurants that serve alcohol, and entertainment facilities. Another section that prohibits guns from being carried in vehicles unless they are unloaded and stored in a closed area was also blocked. The portions of the law that overhauled the process for obtaining a concealed carry permit and mandated liability insurance are unaffected.
Politico, New Jersey
Tennessee Allows 18- to 20-Year-Olds to Carry Without a Permit
In April 2021, the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) sued the state of Tennessee for prohibiting 18- to 20-year-olds from carrying a concealed firearm in public or from obtaining a permit, stating that these restrictions were unconstitutional. On Jan. 23, 2023, attorneys for the state of Tennessee entered into an agreed order in federal court with the FPC. The order stipulates that the state’s restrictions were unconstitutional and that they will no longer be enforced. The order immediately went into effect.
Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tennessee
ATF Will Allow Imported Braced Guns To Be Registered
The ATF clarified that it plans to officially publish its new rule on guns equipped with pistol braces on Tuesday, January 31. The agency also said that owners of imported guns equipped with pistol braces can register or dismantle them instead of destroying or turning them in. ATF Director Steve Dettelbach emphasized that registering a braced gun with the ATF under the National Firearms Act (NFA) would not require the usual $200 tax stamp during the 120-day amnesty period.