Taking gun safety to state ballots | Arkansas Blog

Taking gun safety to state ballots

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WINNING MESSAGE: This was one of the ads in the successful ballot effort in Washington state to broaden background checks for gun purchases.
  • WINNING MESSAGE: This was one of the ads in the successful ballot effort in Washington state to broaden background checks for gun purchases.

This is a largely academic subject in Arkansas, but the New York Times reports on growing efforts — mostly in blue states — to mount ballot initiatives and other state-by-state efforts to tighten gun laws, particularly with measures to extend purchaser background checks to gun shows.

The gun lobby has had more wins and losses in individual races where guns have been an issue, but some measures have succeeded on the ballot (Washington) and in legislatures (Connecticut and Colorado.)

The state-by-state movement on gun laws takes a cue from the successful march of marriage equality into the majority of U.S. states by legislation, initiative and courts.

Gun control advocates believe that ensuring background checks for the majority of gun buyers is the foundation of all other existing laws. “The reason voters support these laws is the same reason the movement supports these laws,” said Laura Cutilletta, a senior lawyer for the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. The same-sex marriage movement has been a model for advocates of new gun restrictions. As with gay marriage, background-check expansions enjoy far broader public support in polls than among elected officials, and they affect state residents immediately.

“The arc of the marriage-equality movement started in the federal government, and got them the Defense of Marriage Act,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, the gun control group backed by Michael R. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City. “Then they went to the states and showed that if you can get the majority of the public on your side state by state, that will influence the courts and Congress in the end.”



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