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New gun safety laws take effect around US after over 650 mass shootings in 2023

New gun safety laws take effect around US after over 650 mass shootings in 2023

New gun safety laws are taking effect in several states around the US on 1 January after the country ended 2023 with more mass shootings than days.

States including California, Illinois and Colorado are starting the year by implementing extreme risk protection orders, more commonly referred to as “red flag” laws, as a means to prevent further gun violence. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were 655 mass shootings in the US in 2023.

In California, a law signed by the Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, prohibits people from carrying concealed guns in 26 places including public parks and playgrounds, churches, banks and zoos. The law prevailed after a federal court suspended an injunction issued by a judge who concluded the state’s law violated the right of citizens to keep and bear arms under the US constitution’s second amendment.

In Illinois, a law will go into effect on Monday that bans the sale of many types of semiautomatic assault weapons, including AK-47s and AR-15 rifles, and magazines with more than 10 rounds for rifles and more than 15 rounds for handguns. The law was passed following the deadly mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, in 2022.

Notably, these laws have overcome a slate of lawsuits from pro-gun groups across several states. Gun rights advocates have been challenging the legislation through the courts, relying on a supreme court decision in 2022 that expanded gun rights by striking down a New York gun law.

Also taking effect on Monday is a Washington state law imposing a 10-day waiting period on firearms purchases. The law intends to create a buffer between people in crisis and a firearm. It will also require all gun buyers to show they have taken safety training.

The measure is part of a package signed in April 2023 by Governor Jay Inslee, which included a ban on the sale of certain semi-automatic rifles – clearing the way for lawsuits against gun makers or sellers in certain cases.

In Colorado, a new law that bans so-called “ghost guns”, or those that can be made at home using parts kits and which typically lack a serial number, will go into effect this week. Pro-gun groups filed a federal lawsuit against the Colorado governor, Jared Polis, claiming the law restricts the second amendment rights of gun owners who want to use guns for personal use.

The US has grappled with rampant gun violence for decades. Guns were the leading cause of death for children and teens in the country in 2022, while the number of gun suicides reached an all-time high – 73 people died by gun suicide every day.

The mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in Las Vegas in 2017 remains one of the deadliest gun violence events in history, with 60 killed and more than 850 injured. In 2023, 18 people were killed and 13 others were injured during a spree shooting at two locations in Lewiston, Maine.

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The gruesome event last year reignited efforts by advocates and lawmakers for firearm safety measures to prevent another tragedy, but many politicians still refrain from adopting large-scale reforms. The cold-shoulder attitude and political inaction poses a striking difference from other countries that have banned assault weapons after a single mass shooting, including Norway and New Zealand.

In 2023, the US marked more than 18,800 gun deaths, 36,200 gun injuries, and over 24,100 suicides, according to the Gun Violence Archive.

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