Gun Deaths And Car Injuries Are On The Rise And No One Knows Why

Both accidental and violent deaths and injuries had been on the decline for decades — but that trend reversed, with a particularly large spike in firearm-related homicides and suicides and motor vehicle accidents between 2014 and 2016, according to new research.

The increase, which reduced survival gains that the United States had seen since 2001, is confounding researchers.

“It’s disturbing that it seems to have affected every single mechanism,” said lead author Dr. Angela Sauaia, who is a professor at the Colorado School of Public Health. “Both violent and unintentional [injuries], which have very different motivations.”

The research, which was published in JAMA Surgery and used U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention WISQARS (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System) data, found the distinct uptick while looking at data collected between 2000 and 2016.

Sauaia said that as a scientist, she wished she had better tools to explain what was causing the rise in such disparate areas of health. While there’s no single explanation for such a wide-ranging trend, to glean insight into possible theories behind the each of the injury categories in question, HuffPost talked to gun violence, motor vehicle and crime experts about what’s happening in their areas of expertise:  

The Cop Theory

“It all sort of goes back to 2014 being the start of a year of a lot of controversial police shootings,” Justin Nix, an assistant professor at University of Nebraska Omaha’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, said of the recent uptick in firearm-related homicide spike.

Nix pointed to Michael Brown’s death at the hands of a police officer in the summer of 2014, followed by a wave of deadly force incidents that sparked public criticism of the police, which he said may have shifted the community’s attitude toward the police at large.

“There’s been an erosion of trust and confidence in the police, specifically in minority communities,” Nix said.

When people fear that police presence may hurt them, rather than help them, they may be more likely to retaliate in a high-conflict situation, instead of getting the police involved. 

“In their minds, ‘We don’t trust the police. They’re not going to do anything anyway,’” he explained. 

While this is Nix’s theory, there is some evidence to support what’s been called the “Ferguson effect.” A 2016 study, for example, found that 911 calls in black neighborhoods in Milwaukee fell 20 percent following a high-profile case of police violence against Frank Jude, an unarmed black man.

Nix also pointed to the rise of social media. Before social media, an incident like the fatal shooting of Philando Castile at the hands of a police officer might not have rippled wider than the town of the shooting, or the surrounding communities. Instead, it was live-streamed on Facebook, and instantly became national news.

“Now all of a sudden they are in the national spotlight immediately,” Nix said. “People are sharing them on Twitter and Facebook. I just think it opened the floodgates.” 

The Gun Theory

Dr. Sandro Galea, an epidemiologist and dean at the Boston University School of Public Health, thinks the recent uptick in gun violence and injury could be related to the massive number of guns in the United States.

Gun production more than doubled during Barack Obama’s presidency, driven by fears of firearm regulation and the National Rifle Association, which called Obama “the most anti-gun president in modern times.”

“My general thinking is that this is all and always about availability ― the more guns in circulation, the more opportunity for the worse angels of our nature to have lethal consequence,” Galea said.

Although President Donald Trump’s election to the presidency eased regulation fears and gun production and sales subsequently fell, the number of civilian firearms in the United States today remains high in the post-Obama era, standing at roughly 393 million guns, compared to 326 million people.

“At heart, this will always remain the same unless we limit availability and access to lethal means,” Galea said.

The types of guns that are now in circulation may matter as well: High-capacity magazines can do more damage, causing greater injury and death. 

Dr. Martin Croce, a trauma surgeon at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, said that anecdotally speaking, the wound injuries he sees in the trauma center are more serious today than what he’s seen in the past.

Often his patients have been shot more than once, which means they’ll require more care to treat.

“I think that there is clearly an uptick in gun violence and it has to do with the increased availability of weapons,” Croce agreed.

The Car Theory

David King, an assistant professor at Arizona State University who researches transportation, attributed the spike in motor vehicle accidents to economic recovery after the 2008 recession. 

“Over the past eight years or so, more and more people are getting back into the workforce,” King said, noting that for most people in the United States, the only reliable way to hold a job is to have access to a private vehicle.

More people in the workforce inevitably leads to more driving, and more cars on the road ultimately results in more crashes and injuries, King explained. 

The Takeaway

For Sauaia, the unexplained new research indicates a need for more funding in all areas of injury, but particularly firearm injury, a notoriously underfunded field. Without that support, answers to what’s driving the injury and death spike may remain a mystery.

Sauaia said that she and her colleagues wrote their paper in one night following the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, where 17 students and staff members were killed, because they wanted their findings to be available to the public. 

As for why we should look at guns and cars together, Sauaia pointed out that injury and violence is the leading cause of death for people 44 and younger. 

“Injury is a big killer for young, healthy, productive people with a future ahead of them,” she said. 

‘Stand Your Ground’ Shooter Charged After Fatal Altercation Over Parking Space

A Florida man who invoked the state’s controversial “stand your ground” law last month to defend fatally shooting a 28-year-old father of three following an altercation over a parking space has been charged with manslaughter.

Michael Drejka, 48, was arrested Monday after the state attorney’s office for Pinellas and Pasco counties filed the criminal charge against him for killing Markeis McGlockton in a convenience store parking lot in Clearwater.

Police had originally decided not to arrest Drejka, citing Florida’s stand-your-ground law, which allows gun owners to use deadly force if they feel they are facing “imminent death or great bodily harm.” The case was then referred to state prosecutors to decide whether charges would be brought.

“This is exactly what I wanted,“ McGlockton’s father Michael told reporters on Monday. “This is exactly what me and my family wanted was to get this guy behind bars.”

Surveillance video captured Drejka firing his weapon at McGlockton outside the convenience store on July 19.

The dispute began after McGlockton left his car idling in a handicap space while he ran into the store to purchase snacks, his girlfriend Britany Jacobs told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Jacobs was waiting in the car with their two children when Drejka approached and began “harassing” her for parking in a handicap spot without a permit, she said. McGlockton came over and shoved Drejka to the ground, according to Jacobs. That’s when Drejka, still on the ground, shot McGlockton in the chest, she said.

McGlockton was pronounced dead at a hospital 30 minutes later.

“He wanted somebody to be angry at,” Jacobs said of Drejka. “He just wanted someone to fight him. He was picking a fight.

ABC reported that the owner of the convenience store, who was not named, has previously called the police to report Drejka for confronting customers over parking spaces.

The stand-your-ground law, which Florida adopted in 2005, drew intense scrutiny after the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Though Zimmerman did not invoke the statute in his defense, the judge instructed the jury on the law, and it was cited by a juror after the trial as a factor in the jury’s deliberations.

8 Children Are Accidentally Shot Every Day With Unsecured Firearms In The Home

Somewhere in the U.S. today, a child will find a loaded gun in a home. They won’t have to look hard. It will be unlocked and stored in an easily accessible place. The child will pick up the firearm, and soon enough, it will go off exactly like it’s supposed to. The bullet will strike a friend, or a sibling, or the child who found the gun in the first place. Someone will be injured or killed. If it’s an average day in America, this scene will play out seven more times somewhere. It will repeat itself tomorrow.

Those eight children will be the casualties of so-called “family fire,” a term that describes shootings involving unsecured firearms in the home. This aspect of gun violence is the focus of a public education campaign launched Wednesday by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

With material targeting both people who do and do not own guns, the aim is to “End Family Fire” by promoting a dialogue about safe firearm storage habits and increasing awareness about the risks of having a gun in the household.

“We can all agree, eight children being unintentionally shot and injured or killed every day is simply unconscionable,” Brady co-president Kris Brown said in a statement. “Just like the term ‘designated driver’ changed perceptions about drinking and driving, the term ‘Family Fire’ will help create public awareness to change attitudes and actions around this important matter.”

In 1988, the Harvard School of Public Health launched the designated driver campaign with a substantial assist from TV networks and Hollywood figures. The message caught on, and just four years into the campaign, alcohol-related traffic fatalities had dropped by 25 percent.

A key part of the success of the campaign was that it discussed solutions without demonizing the underlying act, said Kyleanne Hunter, a Marine veteran and vice president of programs at Brady.

“‘Designated driver’ doesn’t say going out and drinking is bad,” Hunter said. “What it says is, don’t get behind the wheel of a car if you’re gonna do it. Have a designated driver.”

By focusing on a message of shared responsibility, End Family Fire hopes to “provide an opportunity for people to start a dialogue with individuals with whom they typically feel diametrically opposed,” Hunter said. She hopes the approach will defuse some of the tensions common in other areas of the gun debate.

The centerpiece of the campaign, produced in partnership with the Ad Council and the global ad firm Droga5, is a two-minute spot that imagines a conversation between a gun owner and his inquisitive young son, who appears intent on finding his father’s firearm. Shorter versions of the ad and other campaign materials will run online, in print and on broadcast TV, thanks to donations from outlets, the Brady Campaign said.

Millions of Americans face considerations like the ones raised in the video. Children are present in 13 million gun-owning households in the U.S., according to estimates published in a 2018 study. In approximately 2.7 million of those households, gun owners store their firearms loaded and unlocked, meaning there are an estimated 4.6 million kids living with guns they can get ahold of.

Surveys of gun owners suggest the security of their children is paramount. Two-thirds of all gun owners cite protection as a major reason for owning a firearm. Indeed, in some cases, this may be the reason they keep their guns loaded and easily accessible.

Some gun-owning parents may not fully understand the potential for unintentional harm in these situations. Surveys have shown that many children know the location of their parents’ firearm, even when their parents think they don’t. Some children have even handled the gun in their home without their parents’ knowledge.

In 2016, the latest year for which federal data is available, 3,000 children were unintentionally shot and 127 were killed in family fire incidents as a result of improperly stored guns. Another 1,100 children shot themselves to death in suicides, in many cases with unsecured firearms owned by their parents. Studies have shown that having a gun in the household significantly increases the risk of adolescent suicide.

Unsecured guns are also a huge factor in school shootings, which claim the lives of students and adults alike. A recent Washington Post review of school shootings perpetrated by minors since 1999 found that 80 percent of them were carried out with guns taken from the shooter’s home or the home of their relatives or friends.

In May, for example, a Texas teen took two guns from his father’s closet and shot up his school, killing 10 people. The tragedy led to renewed debate about child access prevention laws, which allow adults to be charged when children obtain their firearms. 

Somebody else’s negligence can directly impact your life.
Kyleanne Hunter, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

The first step toward ending family fire is to reach gun owners and encourage more responsible gun ownership, Hunter said.

A slide on the End Family Fire website says gun owners can “start by storing your gun in a secure and inaccessible location away from children and guests.” Another message urges people to store their firearms with a gun lock or in a safe, and to keep the guns separate from ammunition.

Brady is discussing partnering with a manufacturer of biometric gun safes, which let people get to their firearms in just seconds. The organization is also working to craft television tie-ins, in which characters would help them spread awareness about safe storage and the dangers of “friendly fire.”

Hunter acknowledged that a certain percentage of gun owners would simply never consider installing a safe or lockbox. “There are people who just fundamentally believe that they’re always under threat,” she said. “That if they’re not armed at all times, that they’re unprepared.”

The other aspect of the End Family Fire campaign is an effort to engage non-gun owners and people who may be considering purchasing a firearm. After all, these shootings don’t only affect the children of gun owners.

“Somebody else’s negligence can directly impact your life,” Hunter said.

In 2001, 13-year-old Joshua Adames went to hang out with a friend and never came home. His friend’s father was a police officer, and his son had gotten ahold of his service weapon. The magazine was removed from the pistol, but when the friend pointed it at Joshua and pulled the trigger, a chambered round fired into Joshua’s stomach, killing him.

Joshua’s uncle, Hector Adames, told HuffPost he joined the End Family Fire campaign in hopes of keeping other families from having to go through that pain.

“Had the friend not had access to the gun, my nephew would still be alive today,” Adames said.

It benefits everyone to have conversations about the importance of safe gun storage, Adames said. He pointed out that firearms are a popular target for burglars and thieves, and that locking them up can help keep guns off the street, where they might be used in crimes. 

“The truth of the matter is, if you have an irresponsible gun owner in your neighborhood, your community’s not safe,” Adames said.

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.

Shooter In Kansas Hate Crime Receives 3 Additional Life Sentences

A man who hurled racial slurs and shot two Indian men, killing one, at a Kansas bar last year received three additional life sentences on Tuesday.

Adam Purinton, 53, had already received a life sentence for the first-degree murder of Srinivas Kuchibhotla, a 32-year-old engineer from India, in the February 2017 shooting.

In May, Purinton pleaded guilty to two federal hate crime charges and a firearm charge to avoid the death penalty. He received a life sentence for each of those crimes on Tuesday.

Authorities say that Purinton verbally harassed Kuchibhotla and his Indian co-worker, Alok Madasani, yelling “Get out of my country” at them before opening fire in Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe, Kansas. Purinton injured another man, Ian Grillot, who tried to intervene. Grillot and Madasani were injured but survived.

Purinton said he “targeted and shot Kuchibhotla and Madasani because of their race, color and national origin” at his federal guilty-plea hearing, according to a Justice Department statement.

Sunaya Dumala, Kuchibhotla’s widow, said in a statement Tuesday that she hopes Purinton educates himself about immigrants.

“Not giving you a death penalty was our choice because we believed the
punishment for this hateful act should not be a life for life,” Dumala said.

“What I do request is you use the time that is being given to you to educate yourself and inform others who are still out in the open and stop them from killing innocent people as you did — choosing violence over kindness.”

America does not do a good job of tracking incidents of hate and bias. We need your help to create a database of such incidents across the country, so we all know what’s going on. Tell us your story.

Chicago Gun Violence Leaves Dozens Shot, 4 Killed In Single Night

Aug 5 (Reuters) – At least 40 people were shot in Chicago over the weekend during the seven hours from midnight Saturday to early Sunday morning, with four fatalities, city police said on Sunday, a stark violent streak in a city where authorities say gun violence has been decreasing this year.

“These were both random and targeted shootings on our streets,” said Fred Waller, Chief of the Patrol Division of the Chicago Police Department, in a press conference.

He said most of the shootings are connected to gang violence in the city of about 2.7 million people, the third-largest in the United States.

Chicago police officers and detectives investigate a shooting where multiple people were shot on Sunday.

Joshua Lott via Getty Images

Chicago police officers and detectives investigate a shooting where multiple people were shot on Sunday.

Police said gunmen targeted a block party, a gathering after a funeral, and other gatherings on a night where thousands of people gathered for a downtown concert.

Local media reported that the brunt of the violence happened in the city’s West Side, where 25 people were shot in separate attacks.

Waller touted that shootings in 2018 were down from last year.

Friends and family members of the shooting victims gathered outside of Stroger Hospital's emergency room after the waiting ar

Chicago Tribune via Getty Images

Friends and family members of the shooting victims gathered outside of Stroger Hospital’s emergency room after the waiting area filled to capacity.

The Chicago Tribune, which has been tracking shooting statistics, reported earlier this month that shootings in the city have declined, with 533 fewer shootings as of Aug. 1 than the same time in 2017.

“By no means do these statistics show that we have a victory,” Waller said.

He said that police are working with other law enforcement groups to target gang activity.

“I promise we will not be defeated,” Waller said.

More specifics on the shootings were not immediately available late on Sunday.

At Least 3 Dead, Several Injured In New Orleans Shooting Attack

A manhunt is underway in New Orleans for two suspects who police say fired “indiscriminately” at a crowd on Saturday night, killing at least three people and injuring several others.

New Orleans Police Chief Michael Harrison said two individuals wearing hooded sweatshirts opened fire at a daiquiri shop located in the 3400 block of Claiborne Avenue, about three miles from the French Quarter.

Harrison said the suspects, armed with a long rifle and a handgun, “appeared to fire indiscriminately” at a “large crowd,” though they “stood over one individual and fired more than once at that person” before fleeing on foot, reported The Times-Picayune.

“This is an extremely tragic incident,” the police chief said at a press conference early Sunday.

Harrison said two men and a woman died in the shooting. Seven other victims — five men and two women — were injured, at least one of them critically. No further details were immediately available about the victims.

The Times-Picayune described a bleak scene in the aftermath of the attack. “Sounds of shouts and crying were heard throughout the chaotic scene late Saturday and into Sunday,” the paper said.

The city’s mayor, LaToya Cantrell, condemned the violence and vowed to “dedicate every resource necessary to ending this horror and seeing justice done.”

This is a developing story. 

Toronto Votes For A Total Ban On Handgun Sales After Mass Shooting

After a mass shooting left three people dead, including the shooter, in Toronto on Sunday, the city’s conservative mayor backed a proposal that even the most liberal American politicians wouldn’t dare support ― a total ban on all handgun sales.

“Why does anyone in this city need to have a gun at all?” Mayor John Tory asked at a city council meeting on Monday.

Tory spoke a day after 29-year-old Faisal Hussain opened fire with a handgun on a busy avenue in the city, killing two girls and injuring 13 other people. The incident left Torontonians in fear and mourning and prompted the city council to vote on Tuesday night to ask the federal government to ban the sale of handguns within city limits.

The city’s motion, which passed 41-4, both calls on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government to outlaw the sale of handguns and urges the provincial government to ban handgun ammunition sales in Toronto. The council also voted for stronger prevention against gun sales for domestic abusers and people with mental illness, as well as a crackdown on gun trafficking.

Toronto’s vote is like something from an alternate reality when compared with how U.S. politicians, especially conservatives, have failed to take preventive action against mass shootings. Attempts at pushing through even moderate legislation, such as limiting assault weapons, have faltered as shooters repeatedly kill children in schools or murder dozens in incidents including the Las Vegas shooting and the Pulse nightclub attack.

“What’s happened in the United States is what not to do,” said Toronto city councilman Joe Cressy following Sunday’s shooting.

What’s happened in the United States is what not to do.
Toronto city councilman Joe Cressy

Canadians, especially in the country’s largest city of Toronto, have been concerned about rising gun crime in recent years. Toronto has had over 200 shootings and 26 fatalities so far this year, up from 17 shooting deaths during the same period in 2017. Terror attacks, such as the killing of six Muslim men at a mosque in Quebec City last year, have also increased Canadians’ concerns about access to firearms.

Hussain’s parents issued a statement a day after the shooting to say they were devastated by the loss of life and that their son had struggled with severe mental illness and psychosis. Their message brought additional public scrutiny as to how Hussain could have acquired a handgun, which is already restricted. Police stated on Wednesday that it’s unclear how Hussain obtained the gun.

Under Canadian law, handguns require a special license that can only be obtained if the owner is a target shooter, collector or requires one for work purposes. They must also pass two trainings from government-approved instructors and wait a period of 28 days. Unlike in the U.S., Canadians do not have a constitutional right to bear arms.

Canada has a somewhat different culture around guns and a weaker gun lobby than in the United States, where mass shootings are more common and gun crime far higher. Polling released last year also shows that a significant majority of Canadians ― around 69 percent ― would favor a strict ban on guns in urban areas.

It’s unclear whether Toronto City Council’s motion will ultimately lead to a ban on handgun sales, given that the council itself has no ability to change the criminal code, which would require federal legislation. Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the government is willing to consider the proposal but that it would require a complicated and significant rewriting of the country’s criminal code.

Charmaine Noronha from HuffPost Canada contributed reporting.

Gun Reform Advocate Lucy McBath Wins Democratic Nod For Georgia House Seat

Gun control advocate Lucia “Lucy” McBath won the Democratic nomination for the U.S. House in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.

McBath beat her Democratic opponent, businessman Kevin Abel, in Tuesday’s runoff after they finished as the top contenders in the state’s May primary but neither garnered the majority of the vote. She won 53.7 percent of the vote.

McBath thanked her supporters early Wednesday morning, saying she was at a “loss for words.”

“We deserve better representation in DC, and I intend to show the good people of #GA06 what a tough, determined mother can do,” she wrote on Twitter. “On to November.”

McBath, a national spokeswoman for gun control group Moms Demand Action, will now face a challenging race against incumbent Rep. Karen Handel (R-Ga.) in November’s general election. Handel famously beat Democrat Jon Ossoff in last year’s special election ― the most expensive U.S. House race in history, with more than $50 million spent on both bids.

McBath was spurred into activism by the 2012 death of her son, Jordan Davis, a black 17-year-old who was shot dead at a Florida gas station by a white man complaining about loud music. Initially planning to run for a state House seat, McBath decided to run for Congress after the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people, most of them teens.

“I knew that I could no longer sit on the sidelines,” McBath wrote on her campaign site, “while the politicians in the pocket of the gun manufacturing lobby decide the future of our gun laws.”

She said Wednesday that Jordan was her “rock & inspiration” through the race.

As a “Mother of the Movement” ― part of a group of women who’ve lost a child to gun violence or in police custody ― McBath advocates for “common sense gun violence prevention laws,” including background checks, raising the age for firearm purchases to 21 years old and fighting against “conceal carry” measures. The two-time breast cancer survivor is also pushing for more affordable health care and improving women’s access to health services.

This story has been updated throughout.

Trader Joe’s Employee Killed In Hostage Situation Was Shot By Police Bullet

A 27-year-old woman killed in a hostage situation at a Los Angeles Trader Joe’s on Saturday died from a police officer’s bullet, authorities said on Tuesday.

“As chief of police, I am sorry for the loss, this tragic loss,” Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said at a press conference. “I want to express my deepest condolences and sympathy to her family and to everyone who knew her.”

Authorities said assistant store manager Melyda Corado was exiting the grocery store just as suspect Gene Atkins, 28, crashed his car into a light post during a police chase and began exchanging gunfire with two responding officers.

Melyda Corado, 27, was fatally shot at a Trader Joe's grocery store in Los Angeles on Saturday.


Melyda Corado, 27, was fatally shot at a Trader Joe’s grocery store in Los Angeles on Saturday.

During the violent exchange, a bullet that one of the officers fired struck Corado. She ran back inside the store and collapsed from the injury, Moore said.

Video footage of the police chase that led to the standoff shows Atkins abandoning his vehicle near the store’s entrance before running inside. Once there, he held an estimated 40 to 50 people hostage for several hours.

Atkins was on the run after shooting his grandmother and kidnapping his girlfriend during an argument earlier in the day, police said.

Video released by police appears to show suspected gunman Gene Atkins, 28, entering the Trader Joe's store after abandoning h


Video released by police appears to show suspected gunman Gene Atkins, 28, entering the Trader Joe’s store after abandoning his car during a police chase.

Moore described the two responding officers, who have not been identified, as “devastated” by the news of Corado’s death. He also said he stands by the officers’ handling of the situation because they acted in self-defense and were uncertain whether the suspect would become an active shooter once inside the store.

“I know that it is every officer’s worst nightmare to hurt an innocent bystander,” Moore said. “This is a heartbreaking reminder of the split-second decisions that officers must make every day and it’s also a sobering reminder of the destruction that a lone individual with a handgun can create.”

Moore said he would wait until the investigation is complete before determining whether either officer will face any consequences.

A Trader Joe's employee waits in a parking lot near the grocery store where a hostage situation unfolded in Los Angeles

Andrew Cullen / Reuters

A Trader Joe’s employee waits in a parking lot near the grocery store where a hostage situation unfolded in Los Angeles on Saturday.

Atkins has been ordered held on a $9 million bail and faces a number of charges, including one count of murder, six counts of attempted murder, 13 counts of false imprisonment of hostages and one count of felony evading, Moore said.

Responding to the police department’s announcement on Tuesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Corado’s family and friends, as well as the rest of the city’s residents, deserve “complete transparency in understanding the full circumstances of her death.”

“Saturday was a dark day for the family of Melyda Corado & it is our responsibility to shed light as quickly as possible on what happened,” he tweeted

More Than Half Of U.S. States Strengthened Gun Laws After Parkland Shooting

In the wake of mass shootings in Las Vegas; Sutherland Springs, Texas; and Parkland, Florida, millions of Americans have rallied behind a budding movement of student activists demanding legislative change. Their calls may not have resonated in Congress, which hasn’t passed a major gun control law in nearly a quarter-century, but a new report finds that lawmakers in 26 states have picked up the slack, passing 55 gun safety bills in just five months since the Parkland massacre.

It’s a nearly unprecedented period of success for firearms safety advocates, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the national nonprofit that tallied the bills. Fear of the gun lobby and its supporters appeared to fade somewhat this year.

“Increasingly, lawmakers are understanding that inaction in the wake of tragedy is no longer acceptable,” Allison Anderman, managing attorney of Giffords, said in a statement. “The horrific tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in February brought renewed fervor to the demand from Americans everywhere for our lawmakers to take action to save lives from our gun violence crisis.”

The state-level initiatives that passed cover a number of areas, from strengthening background checks and keeping firearms away from domestic abusers, to funding urban gun violence prevention programs and restricting access to certain types of weaponry. 

Some of most popular measures were enacted in response to the particulars of recent high-profile shootings.

This year, eight states banned bump stocks and other firearms accessories designed to accelerate a weapon’s rate of fire, following reports that the Las Vegas gunman had outfitted more than a dozen semi-automatic rifles with bump stocks. When his 10-minute attack was over, he had sprayed more than 1,000 rounds of fire into a crowd of concertgoers, killing 58 people and injuring more than 500 in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Add those states that earlier banned bump stocks and similar devices, and nearly a dozen states now have such laws on the books.

Eight states have passed “red flag” laws since the Parkland shooting, allowing family members or law enforcement to petition to have firearms removed from individuals who pose a danger to themselves or others. Supporters of such legislation say it can prevent domestic violence and suicides. They also argue that it would make it easier to disarm people like the young man now charged in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre who showed a pattern of disturbing and violent behavior before the shooting.

In the past, gun safety bills have often been caught up in partisan disputes in the state legislatures or vetoed by Republican governors. That, too, appeared to change this year, as GOP governors in 15 states signed such measures into law, according to Giffords.

“We’ve seen governors from every part of the country sign strong gun safety laws this year, showing just how formidable the gun safety movement has become,” Robin Lloyd, director of government affairs at Giffords, said in a statement.

In March, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) broke with the National Rifle Association ― which had previously given him an A-plus rating ― to sign a set of bills that included a red flag measure and a hike in the minimum age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21. Another provision allows trained school staff to carry handguns.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) also signed new gun safety measures, raising the minimum age for purchasing a firearm to 21, enhancing background check requirements, enacting a red flag law, and banning bump stocks and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

There were signs of movement even in deep-red Louisiana, Kansas and Tennessee, all of which strengthened laws prohibiting people convicted of domestic violence from owning guns.

Mass shootings have ignited vigorous debates about firearms in the past, but the public outcry has rarely translated into the sort of concrete action seen in recent months. In the year after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, nearly two-thirds of the new gun laws passed at the state level were actually designed to ease restrictions and expand the rights of gun owners, according to a 2013 analysis by The New York Times.

States have also passed a few measures to further loosen gun laws in the months since the Parkland shooting. But many of these efforts have fallen short. Gun safety advocates defeated measures in 19 states to put more weapons in schools and stymied proposals in 14 states that would have allowed people to bring firearms onto college campuses and other locations, according to Giffords.

With more than 33,000 shooting deaths across the U.S. each year, gun safety advocates are optimistic that the tide is beginning to shift in their favor.

“There’s no going back now,” said Lloyd. “We’ll continue to build on these efforts so that we can better address our country’s gun violence crisis and as a result, save lives.” 

The 26 states that have passed at least one bill to end gun violence since Parkland are: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

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