CHICAGO -- Several Democrats from more conservative states say they don't see a rise in demand for new gun control laws following the deadly shootings at the Aurora, Colo., movie theater and the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin.
The state legislators stressed that there is a greater need for individual responsibility in terms of preventing future attacks, rather than new gun laws. They also said they do not believe states should jump into writing new gun laws in response to the two incidents. The legislators were among those attending the National Conference of State Legislatures annual summit meeting in Chicago this week.
"Everyone is saddened by the events, it's tragic," West Virginia House Majority Leader Brent Boggs (D-Braxton) told The Huffington Post. "I don't foresee any movement in our Legislature to make any changes in existing gun laws. There will be little support."
Boggs said he does not want legislators to "jump in" and start making changes to states' existing laws due to the two shootings, saying that he wants his colleagues to think through actions. West Virginia already has the Castle Doctrine, which allows people to use guns to defend their homes in case of burglary and for purposes of self-defense, on the books, he said.
West Virginian Del. Harry White (D-Mingo) said there are other reasons why new gun laws would not fly in the state. "We're a big hunting state and a lot of sportsmen," White said. "The application for gun permits in the newspapers every week is a column and a half."
North Dakota Rep. Corey Mock (D-Grand Forks) said he believes education about gun safety needs to be addressed, instead of new restrictions. He noted that in the Aurora shootings, accused shooter James Holmes had nothing in his background that singled him out in a background check to purchase a firearm. Mock wants lawmakers to ensure that those carrying guns know the dangers involved and that those with mental issues are not given guns.
"We have to treat each other with respect," Mock said.
He also said that while some have proposed larger concealed-carry options to allow people to return fire on a gunman, he does not know if this would have prevented injuries and deaths in Aurora. The concealed-carry law in public buildings has been a popular conservative proposal in multiple states and has included allowing college students to carry handguns on campus; proponents cite the Virginia Tech shooting as an example.
White and Mock both said that no matter how many laws were in place, there would be nothing to stop a gunman from committing a crime like the movie theater shooting.
"It wouldn't have been prevented," Mock said. "He walked in with a plan. He was prepared to be shot at."
1981: The Attempted Assassination Of President Ronald Reagan
on March 30, 1981, President Reagan and three others were shot and wounded in an assassination attempt by John Hinckley, Jr. outside the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. Reagan's press secretary, Jim Brady, was shot in the head.
1993: The Brady Handgun Violence Act
The Brady Handgun Violence Act of 1993, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, mandated that federally licensed dealers complete comprehensive background checks on individuals before selling them a gun. The legislation was named for James Brady, who was shot during an attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
1994: The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994, instituted a ban on 19 kinds of assault weapons, including Uzis and AK-47s. The crime bill also banned the possession of magazines holding more than ten rounds of ammunition. (An exemption was made for weapons and magazines manufactured prior to the ban.)
2004: Law Banning Magazines Holding More Than Ten Rounds Of Ammunition Expires
In 2004, ten years after it first became law, Congress allowed a provision banning possession of magazines holding more than ten rounds of ammunition to expire through a sunset provision. Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke told HuffPost that the expiration of this provision meant that Rep. Gabby Giffords's alleged shooter was able to fire off 20-plus shots without reloading (under the former law he would have had only ten).
2007: The U.S. Court of Appeals For The District Of Columbia Rules In Favor Of Dick Heller
In 2007 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled to allow Dick Heller, a licensed District police officer, to keep a handgun in his home in Washington, D.C. Following that ruling, the defendants petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
2008: The NICS Improvement Amendments Act
Following the deadly shooting at Virginia Tech University, Congress passed legislation to require states provide data on mentally unsound individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, with the aim of halting gun purchases by the mentally ill, and others prohibited from possessing firearms. The bill was signed into law by President George W. Bush in January of 2008.
2008: Supreme Court Strikes Down D.C. Handgun Ban As Unconstitutional
In June of 2008, the United States Supreme Court upheld the verdict of a lower court ruling the D.C. handgun ban unconstitutional in the landmark case <em>District of Columbia v. Heller</em>.
Gabrielle Giffords And Trayvon Martin Shootings
Gun control advocates had high hopes that reform efforts would have increased momentum in the wake of two tragic events that rocked the nation. In January of 2011, Jared Loughner opened fire at an event held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), killing six and injuring 13, including the congresswoman. Resulting attempts to push gun control legislation <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/trayvon-martin-shooting-gun-debate_n_1413115.html" target="_hplink">proved fruitless</a>, with neither proposal even succeeding in gaining a single GOP co-sponsor. More than a year after that shooting, Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/trayvon-martin" target="_hplink">gunned down</a> by George Zimmerman in an event that some believed would bring increased scrutiny on the nation's Stand Your Ground laws. While there has been increasing discussion over the nature of those statutes, lawmakers were <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/trayvon-martin-shooting-gun-debate_n_1413115.html" target="_hplink">quick to concede</a> that they had little faith the event would effectively spur gun control legislation, thanks largely to the National Rifle Association's vast lobbying power. Read more <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/trayvon-martin-shooting-gun-debate_n_1413115.html" target="_hplink">here</a>:
Colorado Movie Theater Shooting
In July of 2012, a heavily armed gunman <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/aurora-shooting-movie-theater-batman_n_1688547.html" target="_hplink">opened fire on theatergoers</a> attending a midnight premiere of the final film of the latest Batman trilogy, killing 12 and wounding scores more. The suspect, James Eagan Holmes, allegedly carried out the act with a number of handguns, as well as an AR-15 assault rifle with a 100-round drum magazine. Some lawmakers used the incident, which took place in a state with some of the laxest gun control laws, to bring forth legislation designed to place increased regulations on access to such weapons, but many observers, citing previous experience, were <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/batman-shooting_n_1690547.html" target="_hplink">hesitant to say</a> that they would be able to overcome the power of the National Rifle Association and Washington gun lobby.