May 24, 2023 - Politics

Arkansas tops in pro-gun legislation since Uvalde shooting

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

State legislators nationwide have passed more laws expanding gun access than on gun control in the year since the Uvalde mass shooting.

  • Arkansas passed seven such laws — the most of any state.

The big picture: More than 1,700 gun-related bills have been introduced in state legislatures in the past 12 months, and 93 were signed into law, Axios' Russell Contreras and Erin Davis report, following an analysis of data provided by the Giffords Center.

  • 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.
  • About 44% of bills passed restricted access to firearms or supported victims/potential victims in gun-related cases. Washington passed eight such laws.

Zoom in: The laws enacted in Arkansas during the 94th General Assembly allow more guns to be carried by more people in more places.

  • Act 30 permits people who have voluntarily sought mental health care to obtain a concealed carry permit for a handgun two years after the treatment has ended.
  • Act 166 authorizes members of fire departments and bomb squads to carry a concealed handgun.
  • Act 215 allows concealed handguns on Department of Transportation property.
  • Act 752 authorizes certain officials, employees, the board of corrections and some appointees to carry a concealed handgun on Department of Corrections property.
  • Act 757 amended the law to allow medical marijuana patients and caregivers to obtain a concealed carry gun permit.
  • Act 773 amended the law to allow a person over age 18 to be in possession of a handgun on school property when the person is "on a journey." The law formerly specified that the journey had to be outside the county where the person lives.
  • Act 777 clarified a license is not required to carry a concealed handgun.

State and local governments are now prohibited from contracting with companies that boycott energy, fossil fuel, firearms and ammunition industries.

Of note: Both a bill to require universal background checks and another designed to provide non-violent felons a path to owning firearms failed to make it out of the House.

Zoom out: 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 and Democratic governors.

Go deeper:

School gun violence torments America's youngest generation

Uvalde families' push for gun control barely moves the needle

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