March 23, 2000
GUNS AND CRIMES
By: Veronica Rose, Principal Analyst
Alan Shepard, Principal Budget Analyst
You asked us for a graphical representation of major gun laws and gun crimes for the past 10 years.
The Division of State Police, which compiles crime data for the state, maintains statistics on gun use for three crimes only—murder, robbery, and aggravated assault. It compiles handgun data for murders only.
Table 1 shows the number of murders, robberies, and aggravated assaults committed with any kind of gun from 1989 through 1998. Table 2 shows the number of murders committed with handguns from 1994 through 1998. The 1999 figures and pre-1994 handgun crime figures are not available.
On both tables, we briefly identify the major gun law or provision passed in each year. No gun legislation was passed in 1989, 1995, and 1996. Below, we provide more detailed information on each public act identified in the tables.
1990 GUN LEGISLATION
PA 90-144—An Act Concerning the Responsibilities of Owners of Firearms with Respect to Children
This act made it a class D felony to store a gun negligently. It required gun dealers to provide buyers with appropriate gun locks and a written warning about unlawful storage. A person is criminally negligent if his failure to store the gun properly results in someone under age 16 using it to injure or kill. The provisions do not apply if the person gets the gun by unlawful entry.
PA 90-340—An Act Requiring a Waiting Period Prior to the Delivery of any Firearm
This act established a two-week waiting period for long guns.
1991 GUN LEGISLATION
PA 91-212—An Act Concerning Criminal Possession of a Firearm
This act made it a class D felony to possess long guns after having been convicted of the following crimes:
1. a capital felony;
2. any class A felony other than employing a minor in an obscene performance;
3. any class B felony other than promoting first-degree prostitution, first-degree larceny, and promoting a minor in an obscene performance;
4. any class C felony other than promoting second-degree prostitution, bribery of a juror, and bribe receiving by a juror;
5. second-degree assault;
6. second-degree assault with a gun;
7. second-degree assault of a victim age 60 or older;
8. assault of a victim age 60 or older with a gun;
9. third-degree sexual assault;
10. third-degree sexual assault with a gun;
11. first-degree unlawful restraint;
12. third-degree burglary;
13. third-degree burglary with a gun;
14. reckless burning;
15. third-degree robbery; and
16. criminal use of a gun.
1992 GUN LEGISLATION
PA 92-1, June Special Session—An Act Concerning Possession of Firearms in or on School Property and the Possession of Drugs or Drug Paraphernalia in, on or Within Fifteen Hundred Feet of School Property
With certain exceptions, this act made it a class D felony to possess a gun on school grounds. But if someone under age 16 commits the violation, it is a serious juvenile offense.
PA 92-2, June Special Session—An Act Concerning Criminal Liability For The Conduct of Another Person with a Firearm
This act made anyone who provided a gun to someone who used it to commit a crime subject to prosecution and punishment as if he had committed the crime himself. In order to be subject to the punishment, the provider must have known or should have known that the offender intended to use the gun for a crime.
PA 92-3, June Special Session—An Act Concerning Serious Juvenile Offenses
This act added the following six gun-related offenses to the list of serious juvenile offenses (SJO): (1) second-degree kidnapping with a gun, (2) second-degree burglary with a gun, (3) third-degree burglary with a gun, (4) third-degree burglary with a gun, (4) stealing a gun, (5) criminal use of a gun or stun gun, and (6) carrying a gun without a permit.
1993 GUN LEGISLATION
PA 93-306—An Act Concerning Assault Weapons
This act, with exceptions, made selling or transporting an assault weapon a class C felony, with a mandatory minimum two-year sentence and an additional mandatory minimum sentence if the sale is to a minor under age 18. It, with some exceptions, made assault weapon possession a class D felony with a mandatory minimum one-year sentence. The act added the use of an assault weapon in a crime punishable by death to the list of aggravating circumstances justifying the death penalty. It required mandatory minimum sentences for people who use assault or other guns when committing any class A, B, or C felony.
1994 GUN LAWS
PA 94-1, July Special Session—An Act Concerning the Sale, Transfer and Possession of Pistols and Revolvers, the Possession of Assault Weapons and the Storage of Firearms by the Department of Correction
1. banned handgun possession by anyone (a) convicted of any felony or violent misdemeanor, (b) found not guilty of a crime by reason of mental disease or defect for 20 years following release from custody; (c) confined by court order to a mental hospital in the past 12 months; (d) who knows he is subject to a protective or restraining order for using force; or (e) who is an illegal alien;
2. regulated secondary handgun sales; and
3. established an eligibility certificate for handgun possession.
1997 GUN LEGISLATION
PA 97-56—An Act Concerning the Alteration of Firearm Serial Numbers
This act made it illegal to deface or destroy the serial number on a long gun.
1998 GUN LEGISLATION
PA 98-129—An Act Concerning Handgun Safety
This act (1) made it a crime to carry a gun while intoxicated, (2) prohibited issuing a gun permit to anyone convicted of a serious juvenile offense, and (3) required gun retailers to provide purchasers with gun locking device for handguns only, instead of all guns.
1999 GUN LEGISLATION
PA 99-212—An Act Concerning Firearm Safety
This act allowed the police to seize guns, under certain limited circumstances and following specified procedures, from people posing a risk of imminent personal injury to themselves or others; (2) made people strictly liable, in some circumstances, if their guns are used to kill or injure anyone; and (3) required employees selling guns in department-type stores to complete a Department of Public Safety-approved course in gun safety and statutory procedures for selling guns and meet other standards.