Anti-gun legislators in three states are using the Aurora mass-shooting as a pretext for restricting access to assault weapons and ammunition, although there remains little momentum — for now — for renewing the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.
Since the July 20 Aurora movie theater shooting that killed 12, restrictions on automatic weapons and ammunition sales have been proposed in California, Illinois and New York.
On August 16, a proposal to restrict assault rifles in California was shelved for the year by state lawmakers. The measure would have prohibited semi-automatic weapons from having devices that allow them to be easily reloaded with multiple rounds of ammunition.
Nevertheless, supporters vow they will renew their campaign in 2013.
“California sets the pace for the country,” said state Sen. Leland Yee, a San Francisco Democrat who authored the legislation that would slow down the process of reloading an assault weapon with a new magazine. “If there’s no action in Congress, we better do something here and hope it catches fire in other states.”
In New York, State Sen. Michael Gianaris has proposed legislation limiting firearms purchases to one a month, requiring background checks for all gun sales, a firearms safety course for gun buyers and a cooling-off period before a gun could be picked up after purchase. It also would require that sales of firearms and ammunition be reported within 24 hours.
New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has expressed support for Gianaris’ proposed bills, which, if adopted, would give New York the nation’s toughest gun control laws.
“I think there is appetite for reform,” Cuomo said. “I think that’s a good thing, and I think that’s one of the issues I’m going to have at the top of the list next January.”
Meanwhile, in Illinois, the only state in nation allowed to ignore the U.S. Constitution by blanket-banning possession of a firearm in public, Gov. Pat Quinn has proposed a strict ban on assault weapons, similar to California’s.
“It’s time for the people to band together in our state … and do something about these weapons. We should remember those who lost their lives,” Quinn said in July after he added his gun control proposal onto a bill that had dealt with ammunition sales.
None of the proposals will be addressed until the 2013 legislative sessions begin early next year — providing some opportunity for voters in three states to change the complexion of their legislatures and derail these poorly conceived proposals.
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— Colorado shooting rampage prompts gun bills in big states