State Outlook Even More Jumbled for Firearms
courtesy NSSF
Previous Post
Next Post

By Larry Keane

Everyone has that kitchen drawer. That’s the one where a book of matches, take-out menus, extra cell-phone power cords, pet treats, a pack of gum and a hammer are kept. That is, of course, if you could only find them under the rest of the junk in there.

That’s sort of what our state-by-state landscape looks like when it comes to firearms legislation after this week’s midterm elections. It’s ugly, but if you dig, there’s something worth finding.


Seven states will see new Democratic governors in the New Year. Those include Illinois Democrat J.B. Pritzker, who defeated Republican Bruce Rauner and Kansas Democrat Laura Kelly, who beat Kris Kobach. Michigan Democrat Gretchen Whitmer came out on top over Republican Bill Schuette. Meanwhile, in Maine, Janet Mills topped Republican Shawn Moody. Nevada Democrat Steve Sisolak ran away with the election over Republican Adam Laxalt and, in New Mexico, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham bested Republican Steve Pearce. Wisconsin Democrat Tony Evers eked out a win over out Republican Scott Walker.

Going into the election, there were 36 gubernatorial races, with 16 held by Democrats, 33 by Republicans and one by an independent. That split is now 23 for Democrats and 25 for Republicans. In one remaining race, Georgia’s Republican Brian Kemp declared victory over Democrat Stacey Abrams, who isn’t conceding, saying the race is still undecided. Kemp holds a slight lead and if it is less than one half a percent, it will be headed for a recount.

What it means

Things got even tougher, even in states where it was already tough. California elected Democrat Gavin Newsom, who campaigned on a platform that some of the strictest gun laws in the country weren’t strict enough. Illinois’ Gov. Rauner has signed restrictive legislation in the past, but he’s also vetoed some bills that were disastrous for the firearms industry and gun owners.


We all know, though, that governors don’t make gun laws by themselves. Those originate in the statehouses and 46 states held contests for more than 6,000 seats. Six chambers in state capitols flipped from Republican to Democratic control in Connecticut, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota and New Hampshire. Democrats in New York have had a numerical advantage for some time, but that state’s Senate was controlled by a coalition of Republicans.

Still, Republicans maintained hold of 62 of the 99 state legislatures (Nebraska’s is unicameral and nonpartisan). Those included races in Arizona, Florida, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin that were held by less than 10 seats.

What it Means

Much of the fight on gun rights is happening in the states. Take, for instance, the ban on modern sporting rifles. The federal ban expired in 2004, but since, California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York banned the most popular selling rifle. These states also outlawed standard capacity magazines for modern sporting rifles and some handguns, as did Colorado and Vermont.

Ballot Initiatives

Ballot initiatives make it even more difficult to predict the future of firearms-related legislation in the individual states. Voters in the Washington state voted to pass the I-1639 ballot initiative, putting Washington on par with California, Massachusetts and Hawaii as having some of the most restrictive firearm laws in the nation. A few of the many requirements imposed by I-1639 are: raising the minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic firearm from 18 to 21, creating new background check requirements, mandatory training requirements for gun purchases and new storage requirements for law-abiding gun owners.

But all wasn’t bad news. North Carolina voters approved state constitutional protection for hunting and fishing, backed by NSSF and other sportsmen and conservation organizations that ensured this heritage for future generations. North Carolina becomes the 22nd state to constitutionally protect hunting and fishing.

More to Come

We’re still sifting through all the results. Tune in when NSSF hosts webinars on what the midterm election results mean to our industry and what we can expect. You can know this much: NSSF will remain engaged, fighting against legislation that hurts our industry and that infringes on our rights while working to make America safer while respecting our liberties.


Larry Keane is the SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel at the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Previous Post
Next Post


  1. RBG fell and couldn’t get back up. Trump still sits in the throne and the senate is still red. The states are due a wake up call on respecting the rule of law. Human and civil rights are going to be protected by red leaning fed judges.

    • With the House lost, no Republican bills will pass.

      On the other hand, it doesn’t matter that we lost the House, we weren’t using it any way.. just like the Constitution

        • Don’t rationalize the lost as a victory. Doing that will make sure Trump doesn’t get elected for a 2nd term. The Democrats are gaining steam. Not only are Democrats gaining steam, so are the socialists/communists.

          It doesn’t help that Republicans sat on their hands for two years and won’t have an opportunity for another two years. They were given the ball yet refused to run. This loser mentality of not getting anything done when in full control makes Republican and more independent voters lose their drive. When Republicans are greatly outnumbered their fighting spirit is what can bring them victory when they have a proper strategy. The strategy was fucked up and now their spirit is deflating. The current probability for victory in two years is low.

          I never want to wait for the justice system to bring me justice. I have been waiting decades. I can’t wait decades more. I rather just move to another country and enjoy myself while the courts play touch butt.

        • You do know that you can’t just move to another country like you can walk across the U.S. border? They have standards, limitations and requirements that the U.S. doesn’t. So, I think I can spend a few more years watching the shit show from the front.

          If they are doing this when they don’t have full control, imagine what they will do two years from now.

          I doubt the Democrat controlled governments will allow you to defend yourself against them. I doubt the cops will show up when they are ordered to stand down again. I doubt a judge is going to be very helpful for this situation.

        • “Don’t rationalize the lost [sic] as a victory.”

          Even if the GOP candidate in either Florida or Arizona, this first midterm election under Trump will be a clear victory compared to average losses in House and Senate of a party holding the white House in the past 100 years.

          If the GOP holds both Arizona and Florida then Trump will have done better on first mid term than every president ever except three.

          So stop the memes of the mainstream media which are in the pocket of the Democrats. Trump did much better than history and much better than predictions

        • I wouldn’t say “victory,” but the holding of the senate and 2 years to stack the courts full of right-leaning judges is a relatively good consolation.

      • +1

        I’m, for one, glad we lost the house. The republican house has been a huge embarrassment. Let the libs have it for a term, maybe when we get even more insipid laws crammed down our throats by “the urbans”, the ‘pubs will actually start to pass laws for more than just their elite friends in the hamptons.

      • The house passed a lot of bills including national conceal carry. The problem is the 60 vote threshold in the senate for legislation. There were dozens of bills the house passed that were DOA in the senate because the dem’s voted as a block against all of it.

    • Legislation will need to be passed.

      We tack on things we want like the HPA and ram it on through…

    • I really don’t understand why you think our rights are better safeguarded at the federal level than at the state. Sure it sucks that blue states have such disregard for our rights, but your “solution” has Jefferson and Madison turning over in their graves

      • The right is enumerated in the Federal Constitution.

        Since Incorporation (14th Amendment), it is no longer a right that States can experiment with.

        Some States had state-sponsored religion well into the 19th Century.

        The other side wants to pick and choose what rights are incorporated on a case by case basis.

        The 14th Amendment was created and ratified utilizing the process specified in the Constitution.

        I think Madison & Jefferson might have questioned the wisdom of the 14th Amendment but would have found that the process was followed.

    • Got that right!
      Liberal Governer
      Liberal Senate
      Liberal House
      This coming legislative session will bring some very bad bills & no one to oppose them!

        • That started many years ago as California started to get more expensive. A lot of Mexicans and some blacks left for Nevada. The police force there is also very bad. So, yeah, they are fucked.

        • Ive never seen this as a racial issue. To me, this has always been an “urban” vs “Rural” thing. Nevada is controlled by Reno and Las Vegas. These Urban centers are overwhelming the vote of the rural.

  2. I’m glad that Virginia has National elections in even numbered years and State elections in odd numbered years. That way, state issues are not intermingled with national issues and more attention can be given for the different offices. That makes us have elections every year but I like that better than the confusion that happens when everyone is elected at the same election.

    • Virginia is one of the states most likely to see major reduction in Second Amendment rights. It is one of the states moving fastest from reddish purple to bluish purple. And not only is it steadily losing Republicans in its legislature, its pro gun rights Democrats are disappearing as well since it is a major major battleground of Bloomberg’s money

      • VA is overrun by marylanders escaping the high taxes and onerous government they voted in. Also you have a LOT of immigrants both legal and illegal diluting the state.
        VA will be another MD in 10 years. It’s going to be NoVA and Norfolk calling the shots with Richmond helping out. All the rest of the rural counties will be touching their toes when they are done with them.

  3. I was born and raised in the Northeast. The rolling hills, the fall foliage, the smell of woodsmoke, the crisp cold air. I’ve been dreaming of a cabin in Maine or New Hampshire since I was young. I’m watching with great pain what’s going on up there. Hopefully, some measure on sense remains for the foreseeable future.

  4. Looks like Democrats are going to steal gov, senate and ag commisoner (who controls carry permits) races in Florida with narrow recounts that will no doubt be followed by mysteriously found ballots that are all straight democrat ticket.

    • I think they’re waiting on Broward county, turns out they couldn’t manufacture votes fast enough. They’re working overtime to make up the shortfall, I’m sure. Gillum already conceded though. Wish there was some kind of no-take-backs rule on that.

      • A friend of mine just sent me an article stating that a school teacher found a box of provisional ballots left in the school cafeteria. By the time they were found, it was too late to count them. Further, it is being reported that the Election Commissioner is REFUSING to release results.

  5. I still haven’t been able to find out if the democrats won a supermajority in the California Legislature. Not that it matters–they already had a nearly 2-1 majority and controlled all of the committees. If it hadn’t been for the five or so (democrat) politicians charged with crimes who were forced out, they’d have one already. Add a governor who has (apparently) campaigned on a “get tough on guns” platform (I wouldn’t know; this being Republican territory, he didn’t campaign up here or even run ads), I think a Washington-like semi-auto rifle ban is coming. Who knows, maybe he will ban semiauto pistols too (not that we have too many of those left on the Roster any more), and CCWs as well (if he thinks he can get it past the Supreme Court five years from now). And to make things even worse, State Attorney General Becerra, another vowed anti-gunner who has been futzing with the “assault weapons” regulations in a back door attempt to change the state penal code, was re-elected.
    You want ugly? We got FUGLY!

    Hmm, maybe it IS time to buy a bow and a whole lot of arrows!

    • WA hasn’t banned semiautomatic rifles. There are no restrictions on the rifles themselves.

      What they’ve done is to force everyone who wants to buy one from here on out to register with the government like some kind of predatory sex offender.

      It’s like being on permanent probation — and if you don’t do penance in the form of an expensive training class every 5 yrs, they break down your door and take your property and throw you in jail.

      This, folks, is how *real* progressives operate. You’ll be seeing this shit in other blue states before you know it.

      • With I-1639 WA State also created the first definition of a semi automatic rilfe as a semi automatic assault rifle in the nation. So in WA, every semi auto rifle is now magically a “Semi Auto Assault Rifle”. My grandson’s Ruger 10/22 with a wood stock and not one “military” feature on it is now an Assault Rifle. The kid is 10 and he owns an assault rifle now. Got to be the coolest kid in his school, right? My brother’s tube fed Marlin 60 (this rifle has no removable box magazine) that also has a wood stock and no military features and fires 22 long rifle ammunition is now classified as an assault rifle. Really? So ridiculous the crap these people come up with and the crazy uninformed idiots who vote for these insane laws. And, now that the Semi Auto Assault Rifle verbiage is “record of law”, all of the other liberal gun hating states will copy WA State’s lead. And, now that WA State has created this new definition of a semi auto assault rifle, the gun grabbers can now call ALL semi auto firearms “Assault Weapons”, meaning every semi auto pistol will become an assault weapon down the road. The antis keep taking and infringing on these little pieces of our rights and a few years from now all the law abiding citizens will be disarmed and the only folks who will have firearms will be the military, the State, the rich and their bodyguards, and the criminals. The rest of us will be servants to the king.

        • I-1639 is so unconstitutional that everyone here needs to support the SAF, NRA and others who are fighting to get this moved through the courts. I’m guessing SCOTUS will take this one up since the state’s highest court ruled it legal when it directly and blatently violates WA law.

  6. It’s sad, there is nothing that can be done to stop the slow motion blue wave at the state level. Engaged gun owners are very very much outnumbered. Conservatives can’t be bothered because their strong man is in power.

    • It’ll be ok, we can just ignore the fight at the state level as long as Trump keeps picking these awesome federal judges who’ll be just like Lincoln and make sure those misbehaving states get back in line! (until we get a democrat president that replaces them with actual communists and the whole idiotic cycle goes on)

      • Fourtunatly, that process takes decades. If all of Trump’s judges are Originalists or otherwise pro-2A, our rights will eventually be protected for a generation or more.

        It would help to have 2 or 3 more pro-2A judges on the SCOTUS, thought.

        Hopefully, we’ll get Ginsberg replaced soon. She falls (down and asleep) frequently now. See may have to retire.

        • Ginsberg won’t retire. She’ll die first.

          Or maybe she’ll end up like the Magical History teacher in the Harry Potter novels and just keep right on feministing in the Supreme Court forever, not realizing that she died a very long time ago. Personally, I suspect she died sometime in 2011.

        • I’ve seen reports that her cancer is back and she is going to retire sometime shortly after the first of the year. Haven’t seen it in the fake news MSM yet, but there’s hope that she’ll step down. The 51 Republicans in the senate can get her replacement confirmed quickly.

  7. I’ve loved NH since moving here but if things go bad for gun owners Idaho here I come. Its pretty messed up that a decade of prosperity can be nullified by a year or two of Democrats.

      • They ate each other alive years ago. They’d rather die oppressed with their pure ideology intact than taint themselves by voting R and so Keene, their alleged stronghold, goes ever bluer. Whatever ripples they once made have long since dissipated.

        • That’s my issue with Libertarians. I align with that platform quite often, but you can’t make progress by not flexing and compromising when the other side doesn’t play fair. These days, a vote for L really just means D.

  8. ILLinois is f###ed. As mentioned we were barely hanging on with RINO Rauner. I’ll either move or become a miscreant😩

    • My county voted overwhelmingly to become a “gun sanctuary” county. Numbers were more than 2 to 1 in favor. Interestingly enough, Rauner won by a pretty narrow margin and many Dems were elected as county officials. These idiots voted for a governor that campaigned on taking away our means of self defense while simultaneously voting to give Springfield a metaphorical middle finger if they passed the gun ban laws said officials promised to make. This state makes my head hurt. Oh well, odds are good the Prick will end up in jail 😀

      • Pritzker is just a rubber stamp for everything the house and senate want. PBS news panel, on Wednesday night were “wondering what the new governor will do”. Really? It’s not rocket science. We know what he will do….starting with a 6% state income tax, tax car mileage (battery cars) while keeping gas tax, ban whatever guns, soda tax, ban plastic straws, etc etc.

  9. There is a commercial on of all things, PBS in North Carolina. “Aren’t you glad you live in North Carolina?” I can say that I am. I don’t know for how long, but at least for now I can say it. We are in the midst of relocating from a proggie part of the state which, save for state preemption, would adopt the California mentality if it could to one where there are many gun and pawn shops, various ranges both indoor and outdoor, and harsh sentences are given for violent or repeat offenders, especially validated gang members and dealers of hard drugs. I have to assume that many people are armed in their homes in our new neck of the woods, because crime seems to stay entirely within the usual neighborhood boundaries. As a long ago transplanted NY’er who married into and adopted the South for life, I have only one wish – that no more proggies relocate here and screw it up for the rest of us.

    • I live in western NC and can’t remember the last time I was in Walmart and DIDN’T see at least one person open-carrying. We also have nearly no crime – I ran into a deputy in the post office a few months ago who was all excited about mailing some confiscated meth to the state lab for verification. It came from a vehicle on I-40, so not even that was really local. Local cops park overtly to keep people from speeding near schools and stuff, but the state patrol likes hiding on rural roads they know everyone speeds on to do their hwy robbery.

  10. The Democrats have won, because they were patient and played the LONG game.

    This is a matter of racial demographics. Florida is in chaos largely because blacks who vote, vote as a block for Democrats. The tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans who fled to FL after the hurricane were all registered to vote and vote Democrat.

    There have always been lots of Yankees in FL cities who skew Democrat, but this year it’s all about race.

    Republicans have lost Florida. IF DeSantis and Scott and Caldwell get in, they will be one-termers. The racial demographics are insurmountable.

    • 1.1 billion+ Chinese. 1.1 billion + Indians. Throw in the rest of Asia, Pakistan, etc. Just about all of South America. Within a hundred years, maybe sooner, the world will be brown.

      Canada, the US and western Europe. The whites in these places are trying to save the environment and are too smart to have kids. Zero growth equals extinction. The master race is too smart to fuck and as a result we are going to vanish.

      How does it feel, jean-claude, to be part of a group that voluntarily self extincts to protect the ice caps. While 9/10ths of the world merrily slashs and burns?

      Did I use the term ‘master race’ for us whites? The brown folks must be the ‘master race’. At least for now.

  11. Most midterm elections go against the party in power. The Dems pulled off what they wanted to do for years. They got lots of people to think they were an oppressed minority: blacks, Hispanics, women, millennials, the old (AARP), LBTGQs and on. Each group was convinced that they were the oppressed minority and the GOP hated them, so VOTE DEMOCRAT!! The other thing the Dems did was try to buy votes by promising each of these minorities that there will be special programs just for them. No one asked WHO PAYS? The Dems are the party that no longer trusts the citizens and would push for a police state. We need to point out that the Government must be limited in order to protect our freedoms and that we cannot ask the Government to take care of us because the money belongs to the people.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here