by Suevon Lee, ProPublica.
Friday’s deadly rampage at a Connecticut elementary school marked the 13th mass shooting in the United States this year. Among the 11 deadliest shootings in U.S. history, more than half took place in the last five years. During the same period, states have often relaxed their gun laws, making it easier for individuals to obtain guns, extending the places where concealed guns are permitted, or giving gun owners more robust protections.
We take a closer look at some of the more striking measures:
1. Five states allow students to carry concealed guns on college campuses
A March 2012 Colorado Supreme Court decision held that the University of Colorado could not ban students and employees with state-issued concealed-weapon permits from carrying guns on campus. The decision overturned the university’s long-standing gun ban. While school policy prohibits guns at ticketed athletic and cultural events, Boulder and Colorado Springs’ campuses now designate dorms for permit-carrying students. (Guns are still banned in other dorms). “Not a single student has asked to live where guns are allowed,” the Denver Post reported last month.
In September 2011, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued a similar ruling, allowing guns on campuses throughout the Oregon University system.
Wisconsin passed legislation in 2011 allowing college students in the University of Wisconsin school system to bring a concealed weapon onto campus grounds, parking lots and “other spaces that aren’t enclosed,” according to the Wisconsin State Journal. The school can prohibit guns in buildings, but only if signs are posted at each entrance.
A law passed by the Mississippi State Legislature in 2011 broadly extended the places where concealed weapons are allowed, including college campuses, secondary schools, courthouses, polling locations, churches, bars and passenger terminals of an airport — places previously off limits. This year, the University of Mississippi, which previously required students to leave guns in their vehicles, began allowing students to bring concealed weapons on campus, provided they have a concealed-weapons permit and take an eight-hour training course.
Utah grants the least discretion: Since 2004, the state has prohibited any public college or university from banning concealed weapons, as campuses are considered state property.
2. Some states now allow you to bring guns into daycare centers, churches, and even “gun-free zones”
Last week, the Michigan Legislature passed a law that would allow concealed weapons in current “gun-free” zones such as schools, daycare centers, bars, churches, hospitals and stadiums. Gun owners are required to receive eight hours of extra training before bringing guns into these places. The bill, which has yet to be signed into law, gives private business owners discretion to ban firearms on their property.
While Michigan’s legislation has gained attention given its timing to Friday’s shooting, it’s far from the only law of its kind. As we’ve already noted, Mississippi has also expanded the list of permissible concealed-carry locations.
Elsewhere, loaded guns in bars are now allowed in Tennessee, Arizona, Georgia, Virginia and Ohio. Georgia lawmakers introduced legislation earlier this year that would expand the list of places where you can bring in a concealed weapon, proposing to allow them in colleges, places of worship and polling places.
Virginia, Louisiana and Maine allow firearms to be carried in state parks, state historic sites and state preservation areas. Recently passed federal legislation also allows the carrying of loaded guns in national parks, but only if state laws don’t interject.
3. You don’t have to be 18 years old or sober to lawfully use a gun in some states
In Missouri, it’s no longer a crime for an intoxicated person to handle or fire a gun, as long as they were acting in self-defense.
Federal law prohibits licensed firearms dealers from selling a shotgun or rifle to anyone under 18, or handguns to anyone under 21. Still, some states impose minimum age limits that go below these federal limits.
For instance, in Vermont, it’s legal to sell a handgun or rifle to 16-year-olds. It’s legal to sell a rifle to a 16-year-old in Maine, Alaska, Minnesota or New York. In Montana, the legal age is 14, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a non-profit organization that tracks state gun laws.
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