News you might have missed: New Mexico governor signs gun safety bill

1517
Advertisement

Elsewhere this week, Virginia rolled back abortion restrictions and Colorado banned the death penalty.

This week, gun safety advocates won a big victory in New Mexico, Florida announced that a record 5 million Democrats were registered to vote, and a photo of two powerful young activists meeting for the first time broke the internet.

Read on to see what you might have missed this week in the news.

New Mexico governor signs red flag gun bill into law

New Mexico's Democratic governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, signed red flag gun legislation into law on Tuesday, the Albuquerque Journal reported. The new law will allow law enforcement personnel to temporarily take firearms away from individuals considered dangerous to themselves or others.

Advertisement

"Enough is enough," Lujan Grisham said in a statement, adding, "We have the power to change the dynamic of gun violence in our communities."

She said the new law balances "individual rights and public safety in a responsible way that will reduce our unacceptable suicide rate and other forms of gun violence."

New Mexico is the 18th state to enact a red flag law, the Albuquerque Journal reported. The law goes into effect in May of this year.

Florida Democrats set new voter registration record

The Florida Democratic Party announced on Tuesday that more than 5 million Floridians are registered as Democrats. This is the first time any political party in the state has ever surpassed 5 million registered voters, according to data from Florida's Department of State.

Florida "must expand the electorate to make sure that all people — especially young people and people of color and women — have a voice and a vote," Andrea Mercado, executive director of New Florida Majority, said at a Tuesday press conference organized by the Florida Democratic Party.

Republicans in the state have 4.79 million registered voters, and an additional 3.78 million voters are registered with minor parties or have no party affiliation.

Virginia removes statewide abortion restrictions

The Virginia Legislature passed the Reproductive Health Protection Act, a bill that will roll back abortion restrictions enacted by previous Republican-controlled legislatures, WHSV reported on Thursday. The bill has passed through both legislative chambers, and Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to sign it into law.

The legislation removes both the 24-hour waiting period and mandatory ultrasounds, and gets rid of strict building codes for facilities where abortions are performed.

"Virginia voters spoke loudly and clearly in November when they voted to elect pro-reproductive health legislators to the Senate and House," Jamie Lockhart, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, said in a statement.

After the 2019 election, Democrats gained control of both the state House of Delegates and the state Senate.

House passes federal anti-lynching bill

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the Emmet Till Antilynching Act by a 410-4 margin. The bill would designate lynching as a federal hate crime.

"After 120 years, and 200 failed attempts, the House finally positions itself on the right side of history, outlawing the heinous act of lynching once and for all," Rep. Bobby Rush, the Illinois Democrat who introduced the bill, said in a statement.

The bill now heads to the Senate, which has previously passed the same bill. The Senate is expected to pass the bill again and send it to Donald Trump's desk.

Colorado bans the death penalty

Both chambers of the Colorado Legislature have passed a statewide ban on the death penalty, sending the bill to Gov. Jared Polis, TIME reported on Wednesday. Polis, a Democrat, has previously said he will sign the bill into law.

Colorado's last execution took place in 1997, according to TIME. When the bill is signed, Colorado will become the 22nd state to abolish the death penalty.

Washington to become 10th state to ban "gay panic" defense

Defendants in Washington state will no longer be able to use the so-called "gay panic" defense, thanks to a bill that passed on Wednesday, the Portland Mercury reported.

"Gay panic" is a bigoted defense strategy that argues violence against LGBTQ individuals is justified if the person carrying out the aggression is suffering "shock" from discovering the LGBTQ person's identity.

The newly passed Nikki Kuhnhausen Act, named after a 17-year-old transgender murder victim, declares that defendants do not "suffer from diminished capacity" upon learning about a person's gender identity or sexual orientation.

The bipartisan bill passed both legislative chambers and is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee, making Washington the 10th state to outlaw such a defense.

Malala and Greta Thunberg break the internet with photo

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met climate activist Greta Thunberg on Tuesday, posting a photo of the moment with the caption, "She's the only friend I'd skip school for."

Notable figures such as Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton later retweeted the image from their official accounts, prompting it to go viral.

Yousafzai, a Pakistani native, was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 as she was on her way to school. She recovered and became a global activist for girls' education. She won the Nobel Prize in 2014 at the age of 17.

Thunberg is a 17-year-old climate activist who made global headlines for regularly skipping school to protest government inaction on climate change. Thunberg was named TIME's 2019 Person of the Year after organizing worldwide strikes to call attention to climate change.

Check back next week for more news you might have missed.