As the United States grapples with a concerning surge in mass shootings, several states are ushering in new gun safety laws on January 1, aiming to address the pervasive issue of gun violence. This move comes as the nation concluded 2023 with a staggering 655 mass shootings, surpassing the number of days in the year.
Notable among the new measures are the implementation of “red flag” laws, officially known as extreme risk protection orders, in states such as California, Illinois, and Colorado. In California, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law that prohibits carrying concealed guns in 26 locations, including public parks, playgrounds, churches, banks, and zoos. This law overcame legal challenges after a federal court suspended an injunction, asserting the state’s right to regulate firearm possession without violating the Second Amendment.
In Illinois, a law banning the sale of various semi-automatic assault weapons and restricting magazine capacities for rifles and handguns will take effect. This legislation was prompted by a deadly mass shooting in Highland Park in 2022 and has withstood legal challenges from pro-gun groups.
Washington state is implementing a law imposing a 10-day waiting period on firearm purchases, aiming to create a buffer between individuals in crisis and access to firearms. Additionally, all gun buyers will be required to demonstrate completion of safety training. This measure is part of a broader package signed by Governor Jay Inslee in 2023, including a ban on certain semi-automatic rifles.
Colorado is enacting a law that targets “ghost guns,” those assembled at home using parts kits and lacking serial numbers. Pro-gun groups have filed lawsuits against this law, claiming it infringes on the Second Amendment rights of gun owners who use such firearms for personal use.
These legislative efforts reflect a response to the persistent issue of gun violence in the United States, where firearms are a leading cause of death, especially among children and teenagers. The measures aim to address not only mass shootings but also suicides and accidents involving firearms. Despite the pressing need for comprehensive reforms, political reluctance and inaction persist at the national level, setting the United States apart from other nations that have swiftly enacted gun control measures after single mass shooting incidents. In 2023 alone, the toll of gun-related incidents in the U.S. included over 18,800 deaths, 36,200 injuries, and more than 24,100 suicides, according to the Gun Violence Archive.