May 23, 2023 - Politics & Policy

U.S. lawmakers OK'd more pro-gun bills than safety measures since Uvalde

Data: Giffords Center, Axios research; Chart: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

State legislators around the country have passed more laws expanding gun access than they have measures on gun control in the year since the Uvalde, Texas, mass shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead, according to an Axios analysis of data provided by the Giffords Center.

By the numbers: More than 1,700 gun-related bills have been introduced in state legislatures since the Uvalde shooting, and 93 of them were signed into law.

  • Of those, 56% expanded access to firearms or benefited the firearms industry by allowing manufacturing in the state or protecting them from liability lawsuits, for example, an Axios review found.
  • Arkansas passed seven such laws — the most of any state.
  • About 44% of the bills passed restricted access to firearms or supported victims/potential victims in gun-related cases. Washington passed eight such laws.

Zoom in: In 14 of the 17 states that only enacted bills loosening gun restrictions, Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and the governor's office.

  • The other three states, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina, have GOP-controlled legislatures but Democratic governors.

Zoom out: The Axios review found that some bills aimed at protecting gun access that passed were "financial privacy" bills.

  • Those measures made it harder to track gun sales by barring merchants from using gun-specific codes in credit card billing. In March, some credit card companies halted their plans to add a code for gun stores, in the wake of Republican state lawmakers' efforts.
  • Other successful bills prevented government entities from doing business with businesses that boycott the firearms industry.
  • Other bills also made state government funds divest of any ESG funds.

What they're saying: "It's a mistake. It is costing lives. It really is that simple," Rudy Espinoza Murray of Moms Demand Action in California, a gun safety advocacy group, told Axios about the trend of laws expanding gun access.

  • "We're not trying to restrict access for responsible gun owners. What we are really trying to do is ensure that the guns don't end up in the wrong hands."
  • Espinoza Murray said the toll on families of gun violence victims is hard when "common sense" gun proposals don't pass. "But we tell them we just have to keep going."

The intrigue: In a rare move, Republicans and Democrats came together in New Mexico recently with a measure that made it a felony to purchase a firearm for someone who is prohibited from possessing one. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed the measure last month.

Of note: The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence released a report Monday after spending time in Uvalde with the families of victims, trying to assess what was needed after the shooting.

  • The group is recommending more gun safety laws, fighting structural racism and reforming victims' compensation systems.

The other side: The NRA, which has opposed most gun control measures, did not respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper