Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, has signed gun control legislation into law. Gun control proponents have something to crow about, but not much. After the mass shooting in Connecticut, many gun control advocates expected the country to embrace dramatic restriction of gun rights. Instead, only minor tweaks are occurring, and some states are actually expanding gun rights.
The U.S. Senate won't hear a bill imposing an “assault weapons” ban. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says fewer than 40 of 100 senators supported the ban in a chamber with a strong Democratic majority. Congressional talks are instead focused on requiring background checks for private gun sales, but reports indicate that this provision's success may depend on the support of Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, who supports gun rights.
At the state level, South Dakota has enacted a law allowing teachers to carry weapons. The Oklahoma House of Representatives has passed similar legislation. It awaits a Senate hearing. Lawmakers in other states are considering comparable measures, including Georgia, New Hampshire and Kansas. Utah and Texas already allow teachers to be armed under certain circumstances.
Even when gun control measures advance, supporters have been embarrassed by the results. New York famously passed laws so restrictive that police officers would have become lawbreakers (officials scrambled to carve out an exemption). And in Colorado, several sheriffs say they won't enforce the new laws. The sheriff of El Paso County calls Colorado's gun control efforts “ambiguous, vague and unenforceable.”
More significantly, citizens continue to purchase guns at historic rates both in Oklahoma and nationwide. Many believed the Newtown killings would impact citizens' views of guns. It did. While the event shifted some in favor of gun control, it apparently prompted many more citizens to buy a firearm — and also question the rationality of unilaterally declared “gun free” zones.