Blue state governors not waiting on Washington to pass gun laws

Liz Goodwin
The Lookout

Democratic governors are making a big push for tighter gun laws as the debate over gun control heats up in Washington.

President Barack Obama admitted in a press conference Monday that it's possible some of his desired gun control reforms—limiting the size of ammunition magazines, expanding the comprehensive background check system for gun buyers, and banning some types of semi-automatic rifles—may not pass the divided Congress.

"Will all of them get through this Congress? I don't know," the president said, while calling on lawmakers to rise above politics. "If there is a step we can take that would save even one child from what happened in Newtown, we should take that step."

Blue state governors including those in Maryland, New York and Delaware, however, aren't waiting for Washington to make the first move.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York has hammered out a tentative agreement with lawmakers to ban ammunition magazines that carry more than seven bullets and to further expand the state's assault weapons ban, the AP reported Monday. (The governor's office said the deal had not yet been reached.) The governor was seeking a comprehensive bill that would also extend background checks so that all gun buyers must undergo one even if they are buying a weapon from a private seller.

Meanwhile, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is seeking to pass a package of bills that would give the state some of the toughest restrictions on guns in the country, the Washington Post reports. O'Malley is seeking an assault weapons ban, tougher background checks for gun buyers that include providing fingerprints to state police, and a mandatory gun safety course.

Both O'Malley and Cuomo are considered potential Democratic presidential contenders in 2016.

The Democratic governors of Connecticut, Delaware and Colorado have also said they will seek tougher laws. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber said Monday he would support gun control legislation, including an assault weapons ban, if state lawmakers pass it.

Meanwhile, in red states, politicians are pushing to expand gun rights by allowing school employees to take weapons onto campuses.

Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst has recommended creating a state-funded program to train teachers and administrators on how to use guns to stop an active shooter. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has also said he thinks teachers should be able to be armed in class. (One district in the state already allows it.) Lawmakers in Tennessee, Virginia and Florida are weighing passing legislation that allows teachers and other school staff to take concealed weapons into school buildings.