Gun Rights Remain Top Issue for These 5 States

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

It’s been a controversial  year for second amendment and gun control concerns, sparked by tragedies around the country. At the national level, the Supreme Court has been resistant to decisive rulings, keeping its case decisions narrow and minor. During elections, the Second Amendment was brought up so many times it became nearly impossible to turn on the TV without seeing Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) or any other Republican shooting something.

By the time November rolled around, half of America must have been popping in protective ear plugs before reaching for the clicker. But overall, national gun legislation has proven difficult for both sides, and so we see state efforts leading the way once again. February has seen an emergence of renewed Gun control versus pro-gun legislation at the state level. Let’s look at five recent moves on firearm issues across 5 states.

1. South Carolina

South Carolina’s Second Amendment Education Act is a pro-gun bill that would put National Rifle Association (NRA)-designed lessons of a three-week duration into public schools (elementary through high school). Critics argue that the legislation is meant to promote guns to youth in light of the recent economic windfall in the transfer of gun manufacturing company PTR to South Carolina. It’s a PR move to cement the relationship with gun manufacturing, and it utilizes the platform of children’s education to do so.

Proponents insist it’s merely an educational measure to help students and citizens understand the role of the Second Amendment in a polarized society. “The Second Amendment recognizes that a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state,” reads the bill. “One result of hostility toward the Second Amendment has been an absolute intolerance for any discussion of guns or depiction of guns in writing or in assignments in public schools.” The bill is currently in the State House Committee on Education and Public Works and was introduced in January.

2. Georgia

Georgia’s Senate had three gun control-related bills put forward at the beginning of February. The NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action describes them as “unnecessarily infringe[ing] upon your Second Amendment rights.” The first, SB 67, keeps firearms out of government buildings. The second, SB 68, demands training be given before a weapons carry license is allowed. Exceptions are made for members of the military and a few other programs and situations, with the goal of preventing handgun accidents such as injury of children. And the third, SB 73, makes it so an individual can be “detained by law enforcement for the purpose of investigating whether such person has a weapons carry license.”

3. Nebraska

In Nebraska, instead of introducing a new bill, a pro-Second Amendment bill has been put to the side because of complications. The bill would make it easier for military spouses from a different state to get a concealed carry permit, but the issue became somewhat overcomplicated when the definition of “spouse” was brought up by fellow Senators. Sen. Dave Bloomfield (R), who introduced the bill, asked that it be put off, saying, “How we got the whole issue of gay marriage combined with concealed carry is beyond me,” according to the Star Herald.

The answer to that is Sen. Paul Schumacher, who wanted an amendment included so that same-sex spouses would have the same advantage, even though Nebraska does not allow gay-marriage. Given the Supreme Court’s upcoming debate and decision, expected to affect the whole of the United States, it’s prudent to put off the question until later.

4. Texas

Two bills are up for debate in Texas, one that would allow open carry in Texas, and another that would open this rule up to college students and other people on college campuses in Texas. The issue of open carry is a controversial one, and has drawn many headlines as Texas has considered the issue.

Proponents argue that allowing students and staff to protect themselves increases safety, and that open carry reduces violence and is a Constitutional right. Opponents suggest that the presence of guns in classrooms and libraries is inappropriate, and open carry can lead to security- and violence-related concerns.

5. Vermont

The Vermont state senate is considering a bill that would tighten rules for firearm required background checks and would disallow violent felons from buying a gun. The state Governor, Peter Shumlin, has indicated his position against the bill, but some in the Senate are in favor, including state senate President Pro Tempore, John Campbell (D-Windsor) and Sen. Phil Baruth (D-Chittenden).

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