With recent events, there is much talk about guns and gun control policy. Here are a few bits to help understand the landscape.

In a per curiam (unauthored) opinion, which concurring Justices Alito and Thomas call “grudging,” the U.S. Supreme Court has ordered the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts to decide again whether Massachusetts’s stun gun ban is constitutional. Currently eight states and a handful of cities and counties ban stun guns.

The highest state court in Massachusetts held that the Second Amendment doesn’t protect stun guns because they weren’t in common use at the time the Second Amendment was enacted, they are “unusual” as “a thoroughly modern invention,” and they aren’t readily adaptable for use in the military.

Spurred in part by recent mass shootings on school grounds, state policymakers and university officials have revisited the issue of concealed carry gun permits on college campuses in an attempt to make those campuses safer. For some of the states that have passed concealed campus carry legislation, schools have faced costs in upgrading campus security facilities.

Just days before the end of the 84th legislative session, Texas lawmakers approved a measure along party lines requiring public universities to allow certain individuals 21 years and older to carry concealed handguns on campus. Although the bill had not been signed into law as of June 9, Gov. Greg Abbot repeatedly has expressed his approval of the measure. One noticeable absence from the bill, however, is the lack of provisions detailing how the likely costs of upgrading campus security facilities will be funded, an issue that has plagued other states allowing concealed campus carry.

Firearms are a public health issue in the United States. In 2010, 31,328 people died because of firearms, either from suicide, homicide, or accidents, and approximately 40,000 people were hospitalized with firearm injuries. The Institute of Medicine and National Research Council and the American Public Health Association have identified practices and areas of research that may reduce firearm-related deaths, violence and injuries.

Rep. Kelly Cassidy doesn’t have to go far from her office in Springfield to understand the deep division over gun control and gun owner rights in Illinois. Her suitemate inside the state capitol is not only a fellow legislator, but a fellow member of the House Democratic Caucus. She represents a part of Chicago; he represents a part of downstate Illinois. They respect each other and can find agreement on many issues, but not when it comes to what to do about the state’s gun laws. “We live in two different worlds,” she said.

Stateline Midwest ~ January 2013

Rep. Kelly Cassidy doesn’t have to go far from her office in Springfield to understand the deep division over gun control and gun owner rights in Illinois.

Her suite mate inside the state Capitol is not only a fellow legislator, but a fellow member of the House Democratic caucus. She represents a part of Chicago, he a part of downstate Illinois.

They respect one another and can find agreement on many issues, but not when it comes to what to do about the state’s gun laws.

“We live in two different worlds,” she says.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 16 approved the first gun-related effort since the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in January. House Resolution 822 would create a national standard for the right to carry concealed firearms, effectively allowing nonresidents of a state to carry a concealed weapon as long as the person possesses a concealed weapons permit from any of the other 49 states.

Later this year, Wisconsin will become the 49th U.S. state that allows citizens to carry concealed weapons.  Now, 10 of the 11 Midwestern states are concealed-carry, "shall issue" states.

Later this year, Wisconsin will become the 49th U.S. state that allows citizens to carry concealed weapons.  Now, 10 of the 11 Midwestern states are concealed-carry, "shall issue" states.

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