Gun Rights Continue Expanding After Mass Shootings

Despite calls for more gun control, advocates of allowing guns in more places, including schools and colleges, are prevailing in state legislative debates. That trend may go on after the Florida school shooting.

The Florida school shooting has prompted calls for stricter gun laws, but such measures face a tough road as a wave of states have moved to expand gun owners’ rights, the Wall Street Journal reports. In the past six years, after deadly shootings at a Las Vegas concert, an Orlando nightclub and a Connecticut elementary school, efforts in Congress to tighten gun regulations have failed. Legislation in states has led largely to wins for supporters of broader gun rights. In a recent push, 12 states—including West Virginia, Kansas and Missouri—now have laws allowing residents to carry concealed handguns without getting a permit from authorities. Permitless-carry laws are pending in at least 19 states, says the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. North Dakota, Georgia and a growing number of other states have recently passed laws giving gun owners the right to carry firearms to places such as public parks, concerts, bars and churches.

At least 22 states have pending bills to allow guns in schools and colleges. In Texas and other states, licensed gun owners can bring concealed handguns onto public university campuses. Oklahoma passed a law in 2015 allowing trained teachers and staff at K-12 schools to carry handguns in school. A new Iowa law lets children under 14 possess firearms with adult supervision and reduces restrictions on carrying guns into courthouses and city halls. David Kopel, a University of Denver law professor and gun-rights advocate, expects the Florida shooting to boost state bills that seek to bring more guns onto school grounds. Gun-control advocates say allowing guns in more public spaces endangers public safety by heightening the risk of gun violence from unintentional shootings and from conflict escalation. They say armed civilians often shoot inaccurately in a crisis situation.