The 2012 Newtown, Ct., school massacre served as a rallying cry for gun-control advocates, but in the three years since, many states have moved in the opposite direction, embracing the National Rifle Association’s axiom that more “good guys with guns” are needed to deter mass shootings, reports the Associated Press. In Kansas, gun owners can now carry concealed weapons without obtaining a license. In Texas, those with permits will soon be able to carry openly in holsters and bring concealed weapons into some college classrooms. In Arkansas, gun enthusiasts may be able to carry weapons into polling places next year when they vote for president.
Dozens of new state laws have made it easier to obtain guns and carry them in more public places and made it harder for local governments to enact restrictions, shows an AP review of state legislation. The number of guns manufactured and sold and the number of permits to carry concealed weapons have also increased. The trend has been discouraging to some gun-control advocates, even as other states have adopted stricter background checks. Other gun-control supporters say their movement is emboldened by the rise of Everytown for Gun Safety, a well-funded group backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg that is becoming influential in some state capitols. The gun debate moved to states after Congress rejected a bill in 2013 that would have expanded background checks to all gun sales, including those at gun shows and over the Internet. The arguments are expected to intensify next year as legislatures convene after the mass shooting of county government employees in San Bernardino, Ca., which is being investigated as an act of terrorism.