Map sale

Key elements of Senate arms compromise proposal already cover most Americans in blue state

Placeholder while loading article actions

An unexpected announcement on Sunday: a bipartisan group of senators had reached an agreement on legislation aimed at combating gun violence in the United States. After a pair of high-profile mass shootings in May, there were the usual rumors about changes aimed at preventing similar incidents in the future, rumors we’ve heard come and go so often before. This time, however, something came of it.

Something small, sure. The challenge for Republican lawmakers in particular is that their base largely opposes the new gun regulations, but the public at large is clamoring for Congress to take some sort of action. So the compromise that emerged was clearly largely intended to produce some sort of result that imposed very limited restrictions on gun ownership. It is definitely something and not nothing, but how much it depends on your point of view and how it is implemented.

One thing is clear, however, and that is that the effects of implementation would be felt more in Republican-voting states than in Democratic states.

Sign up for How To Read This Chart, a weekly data bulletin from Philip Bump

Consider two of the most significant proposals. States would be encouraged to implement red flag laws, making it easier to remove firearms from people who family or law enforcement consider a danger. Another would fill a gap in the violence against women law, extending gun bans to more perpetrators of domestic violence.

A number of states already have the first form of legislation. Last October, Pew Trusts explored how these laws had already proven effective in confiscating firearms. A downside though? People — and even law enforcement — were unaware of the laws, limiting their use.

This article included a map of states that had implemented some sort of red flag policy.

You will notice that most states with such laws supported Joe Biden in 2020. Florida is one of two exceptions; his law was passed after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018.

You’ll also notice there’s a red flag law in place in New York, where a gunman killed 10 people in a grocery store last month. Despite some indications that he might commit an act of violence, the alleged shooter in this case was not prohibited from owning a firearm.

What’s remarkable about the map is the amount of population is covered. About 7 in 10 Americans who live in blue states live in a state with a red flag law. Only about 1 in 5 Americans who live in red states are covered by one.

There’s a similar divide over the “boyfriend loophole,” the effort to ensure limits on gun ownership cover less formal relationships affected by domestic violence. Everytown for Gun Safety identifies 16 states who have laws to limit gun ownership when domestic violence occurs in romantic relationships.

About 3 in 5 of those who live in blue states live in a state that has closed this loophole. Only 1 in 10 residents of red states do.

Contrast that with the bill that emerged after the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. Then the Senate focused on expanding background checks to cover every gun sale. . The measure was blocked by a majority Republican minority in the Senate. But such laws exist in a number of states, according to Giffords Law Centerfounded by former Arizona congresswoman and shooting victim Gabby Giffords.

Two-thirds of blue state residents live in a state that has a mandate for background checks (with qualifications noted in Pennsylvania and New Mexico). No residents of red states do this.

This, in itself, sums up the current fight. Among other things, what the Senate compromise — if finalized — would encourage policies and practices that exist primarily in blue states and require their expansion into red states as well.

But it also wouldn’t significantly restrict access to firearms for those not convicted of crimes.