This Week in Statehouse Action: I Vote The Line edition

February’s just over halfway done, but it already feels longer than a Folsom Prison sentence.

Partly because so much hurt keeps happening.

But also because 44 state legislatures are actively meeting this week.

Nevada, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Texas, and Louisiana are so so chill right now

Cry, Cry, Cry: After every gun violence tragedy, conversation quickly and rightly turns to Congress’ shameful inaction on the issue.

But states have broad leeway to regulate (or not) firearms themselves, so it’s worth taking a peek at what’s been happening in legislatures since the mass shooting in Las Vegas last October and the 2016 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and … well.

The Democratic majorities in the Massachusetts House and Senate became the first legislature to pass a ban on bump stocks, the device that made the Las Vegas horror so deadly.

Campaign Action

Lawmakers in at least 15 other states were moving measures to ban the devices in January, including New Jersey, which swiftly passed a ban after their legislature convened last month. ArizonaConnecticut, Colorado, and Washington are among those states, as is Nebraska.

Democratic majorities in Oregon are moving to close a key gun purchase loophole.
But Republicans in New Hampshire killed a bill banning bump stocks at the beginning of the month.

(California and New York already ban bump stocks.)

Meanwhile, in Nevada itself, it’s against state law to ban bump stocks because of a measure that passed the legislature in 2015, back when Republicans controlled both chambers. (Though of course a future Democratic legislature could repeal this ban-ban.)
Republicans in other states expanded access to firearms and rolled back gun restrictions over the course of the past year.

After the GOP took control of both chambers of the Iowa legislature in 2016, that state passed its own version of Florida’s infamous “stand your ground” law.
New Hampshire and North Dakota eliminated the requirement that gun owners obtain a permit to carry a concealed firearm.
Ohio loosened restrictions to allow concealed weapons in day care centers and some parts of airports.
Wyoming legalized carrying firearms in K-12 schools.
Georgia and Arkansas legalized it on college campuses.
Texas legislators legalized gun silencers.

The Voter Comes Around: So, not everything is terrible. I promise. 

This week saw a veritable special election bonanza, by which I mean that state legislative specials were held on Monday (two in Minnesota) and Tuesday (one each in Florida, Georgia, and Oklahoma). Four of these five elections were to fill vacant Republican seats.

On Monday, Democrats held on to state Senate district 23B in Minnesota, despite the fact that Trump won the district (by a 46-45 margin) in 2016.
Republicans held on to their House seat (Trump won House District 23B 59-33).

Both specials were to replace lawmakers forced to resign over sexual misconduct allegations, and a Democratic woman will be replacing the Senate harasser in Senate District 54.

Wouldn’t be mad if this happened every time #MeToo forces a man from office tbh