Despite Parkland, States Plow Ahead With New Pro-Gun Bills


Last month’s massacre in Parkland, Fla., which killed 17 high school students and staff, kicked off a national conversation about the need for increased gun control.

But gun rights supporters are playing offense as well as defense. Despite Parkland, Republican lawmakers in a number of states are quietly advancing a slew of NRA-backed bills. In some cases, they’re even citing the shooting as a reason why we need more guns, not fewer.

Even as gun control legislation remains stalled in Congress, the NRA has campaigned for 15 measures in 11 states that would further loosen gun restrictions. Among other things, the bills would strengthen existing stand-your-ground laws (Wyoming and Idaho), allow people to carry handguns without a permit (Oklahoma), and expand the list of places where people can carry guns (numerous states).

Here are five pro-gun bills that have moved forward in state legislatures since the February 14 shooting:

  • On February 15, the day after the Parkland shooting, Idaho lawmakers introduced a bill to strengthen the state’s “stand your ground” law to the floor. The measure would expand the definition of justifiable homicide to include not merely defending a shooter’s home but his or her vehicle or place of employment, as well. On Monday, the bill passed the majority-Republican Senate after a vote along party lines.
  • A South Dakota bill exempts private schools and churches from a law that made it illegal to carry guns on school grounds. The bill, introduced in January, passed the House on the day of the Parkland shooting, then the Senate on Thursday.
  • On Tuesday, the West Virginia House passed, by 85-14an NRA-backed bill forcing private businesses to allow employees and visitors to keep firearms in cars parked on private property. Twenty-two states have similar “parking lot” laws. West Virginia lawmakers rejected amendments that would have made exceptions for chemical plants and churches.
  • In Indiana, Rep. Jim Lucas filed an amendment this week to expand an existing bill aimed at letting Hoosiers take guns into schools and churches. Citing Parkland, Lucas says the bill now needs to be broadened to guarantee a right to carry on all state-owned property. “We just need to eliminate gun-free zones,” Lucas said according to the Indianapolis Star.
  • On Wednesday, Tennessee state Rep. Andy Holt, a Republican, introduced a bill to let people carry guns in airports, with a special provision that bars local governments from passing their own gun regulations. It is next scheduled for consideration on Tuesday, March 6.

And of course, pro-gun lawmakers have also been busy fighting off gun control measures. In Virginia alone, the NRA took a victory lap for having defeated more than 60 restrictions on guns proposed to the general assembly during a single legislative session, including universal background checks, and a law that would have required gun owners to report firearms stolen. The group declared that particular victory six days after Parkland.