While Congress stalls in the wake of America’s mass shootings, several states have decided to take action. Several new gun laws went into effect across the nation as 2019 dawned. Most are aimed at keeping guns away from those with a history of domestic violence convictions and severe mental health issues. Others extend a bit further, however.
Domestic Violence Laws
As of January 1, 2019, California law places a lifetime gun ownership ban on those convicted of domestic violence, both against a current or former partner. This ban applies even if the incident resulted only in a misdemeanor charge. Oregon enacted similar legislation, banning domestic violence offenders and those convicted of stalking from owning a firearm.
Mental Health Concerns
Many of the new laws were driven by mental health concerns. California now prohibits anyone from owning a firearm if they were ever involuntarily committed to a mental health facility. In Illinois, a new law allows police officers and family members to act if and when they feel an individual is mentally unstable. If so, they can file for an order prohibiting the mentally ill individual from possessing a gun.
Several states that formerly allowed residents to buy certain guns at the age of 18 have now raised the age limit to 21. In Washington, residents must now wait until they’re 21 to purchase a semi-automatic weapon and can only do so after proving they’ve completed a gun safety course. California passed a similar law, requiring anyone purchasing a long gun to be at least 21. These states trail Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, and Vermont, all of which increased the gun ownership age in 2018.
Other New Laws
In 2019, Illinois extended its 72-hour waiting period to all firearm purchases. Formerly only applicable to handgun sales, the law now requires a waiting period for every gun purchase. The new legislation also requires California gun shop owners to post notices in their store reminding people of the potential dangers firearms present.
Only time will tell how effective and controversial these new laws will become, but they’re on the books for now. Some lawmakers are cautiously optimistic, but others view these new laws merely as stepping stones to further changes. Though proud to have taken these first steps, many fear that it will take much more work to curb the nation’s gun violence problems.