Have gun laws gotten more lax since Columbine? Here's what you need to know.

On April 20, 1999, two students walked into Columbine High School in Colorado and murdered 12 of their classmates and one teacher.

The story captivated the pre-9/11 world and dominated in the media. Day in and day out, theories were explored as to what would possibly motivate two high school seniors to plan and carry out a horrific mass shooting. To help make sense of it all, parents, the media and the general public attempted to place the onus of responsibility on everything from violence in television and video games to personally blaming singer Marilyn Manson.

In the days, weeks and months following the tragic event, legislators also gave their best attempt at passing gun regulations to prevent an attack like this from ever happening again. Here's what we've accomplished in the 18 years since one of America's deadliest school shootings.

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Columbine High School
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N 349881 002 04/21/99 Littleton, Colorado Students Grieve And Set Up Memorial For Those Who Died During The Columbine High School Massacre (Photo By Kevin Moloney/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 22: Mourners weep for victims outside Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., where two teenagers shot to death 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves. (Photo by Susan Watts/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
LITTLETON, CO - APRIL 20: A handout photograph released by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office shows the outside of the library and cafeteria at Columbine High School after the shooting massacre April 20, 1999 in Littleton, CO. The photographs of the incident were released May 15, 2000 in a voluminous CD-ROM report. (Photo Courtesy of Jefferson County Sheriff via Getty Images)
Police officers and officials stand in front of Columbine High School in Littleton, CO, 22 April, 1999, the site where fourteen students and one teacher were killed 20 April, 1999 when two former students opened fire on their classmates. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Jeff HAYNES (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)
Students run from Columbine High School run under cover from police 20 April 1999 in Littleton, Colorado, after two masked teens on a 'suicide mission' stormed the school and blasted fellow students with guns and explosives before turning the weapons on themselves. Police fear at least 25 people were killed. AFP PHOTO/Mark LEFFINGWELL (Photo credit should read MARK LEFFINGWELL/AFP/Getty Images)
COLORADO - MARCH 6: (VIDEO CAPTURE) Eric Harris (L) points out a sawed-off shotgun held by friend Dylan Klebold at a makeshift shooting range March 6, 1999 in Douglas County, CO in this image from video released by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. Approximately six weeks after this video was made, Klebold and Harris killed 13 people at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO in the worst school shooting in U.S. history. Some of the weapons seen in the video were used in the shooting. (Photo by Jefferson County Sheriff's Department via Getty Images)
COLORADO - MARCH 6: (VIDEO CAPTURE) Eric Harris practices shooting a weapon at a makeshift shooting range March 6, 1999 in Douglas County, CO in this image from video released by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. Approximately six weeks after this video was made, Harris and friend Dylan Klebold killed 13 people at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO in the worst school shooting in U.S. history. Some of the weapons seen in the video were used in the shooting. (Photo by Jefferson County Sheriff's Department via Getty Images)
COLORADO - MARCH 6: (VIDEO CAPTURE) Eric Harris (L) watches as Dylan Klebold practices shooting a gun at a makeshift shooting range March 6, 1999 in Douglas County, CO in this image from video released by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. Approximately six weeks after this video was made, Klebold and Harris killed 13 people at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO in the worst school shooting in U.S. history. Some of the weapons seen in the video were used in the shooting. (Photo by Jefferson County Sheriff's Department via Getty Images)
COLORADO - MARCH 6: (VIDEO CAPTURE) Dylan Klebold examines a shot-up bowling pin used for target practice at a makeshift shooting range March 6, 1999 in Douglas County, CO in this image from video released by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. Approximately six weeks after this video was made, Klebold and friend Eric Harris killed 13 people at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO in the worst school shooting in U.S. history. Some of the weapons seen in the video were used in the shooting. (Photo by Jefferson County Sheriff's Department via Getty Images)
COLORADO - MARCH 6: (VIDEO CAPTURE) Dylan Klebold fires a sawed-off shotgun at a makeshift shooting range March 6, 1999 in Douglas County, CO in this image from video released by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. Approximately six weeks after this video was made, Klebold and friend Eric Harris killed 13 people at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO in the worst school shooting in U.S. history. Some of the weapons seen in the video were used in the shooting. (Photo by Jefferson County Sheriff's Department via Getty Images)
N 349738 002 4/20/99 Littleton, Colorado Columbine High School Students Embrace After Being Reunited Near The Gun-Shattered School In Littleton, Colorado Tuesday. (Photo By Kevin Moloney/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 23: Mourner weeps at memorial in Clement Park for victims at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., where two teenagers shot to death 12 students and a teacher before killing themselves. (Photo by David Handschuh/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
04/23/99 Littleton, Colorado. A Truck Belonging To One Of The Killed Students At Columbine High School, Gets Turned Into A Shrine By Loved Ones. (Photo By Andrew Shawaf/Getty Images)
N 350098 004 23Apr99 Littleton, Co Usa A Group Of Students From Smoky Hill High School In Aurora, Colorado, Place Flowers At A Cross Planted Early Friday On A Hill Overlooking Columbine High School In Littleton, Colorado. The Cross Was Planted On 'Cross-Country Hill,' Where The Columbine Cross-Country Team Trained In Nearby Robert F. Clement Park. (Photo By Kevin Moloney/Getty Images)
A view from the parking lot at the rear of Columbine High School in Littleton, CO, shows the cafeteria and library with windows missing 22 April, 1999, at the site where fourteen students and one teacher were killed 20 April, 1999 when two students opened fire on their classmates. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Charles SCHAEFER/MANDATORY CREDIT (Photo credit should read CHARLES SCHAEFER/AFP/Getty Images)
N 350416 001 5/3/99 Littleton, Colorado Bureau Of Alcohol, Tobacco And Firearms Agents Use Metal Detectors And Explosives-Sniffing Dogs To Comb The Grounds Of Columbine High In Littleton, Colorado For Bomb Fragments And Amunition Monday. The Investigation Into The Shootings Of Two Weeks Ago Continues As Columbine High Students Returned To Classes At Nearby Chatfield High School. (Photo By Kevin Moloney/Getty Images)
369420 01: A photograph illustrating a possible sniper on Columbine High School's rooftop April 20, 1999 in Littleton, CO. The photographs of the incident were released in a voluminous CD-ROM report May 15, 2000. (Photo Courtesy of Jefferson County Sheriff)
369420 04: View of damage to the west entryway to Columbine High School where teen-age gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered the school April 20, 1999 in Littleton, CO. Flags mark points where evidence such as bullet casings were found and the photographs of the incident were released in a voluminous CD-ROM report May 15, 2000. (Photo Courtesy of Jefferson County Sheriff)
369420 14: A television damaged by gunfire in Columbine High Library during the Columbine High School massacre April 20, 1999 in Littleton, CO. The photographs of the incident were released in a voluminous CD-ROM report May 15, 2000. (Photo courtesy Jefferson County Sheriff)
UNITED STATES - MAY 15: Patty Nielson, an art teacher who was shot in the shoulder at Columbine High School, along side Tom Daschle speaks out for gun control legislation. (Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images)
Friends of the victims of the 20 April 1999 Columbine High School shooting embrace after the moment of silence observed statewide during a ceremony held at the state capital in Denver, Colorado 20 April 2000. Twelve students and one teacher were killed by two student gunmen who then committed suicide. AFP PHOTO/MARK LEFFINGWELL (Photo credit should read MARK LEFFINGWELL/AFP/Getty Images)
A group of friends reflect during the candlelight vigil at Clement Park marking the one year anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School. Over 6,000 attended the vigil. (Photo By Craig F. Walker/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
N368039 03: Littleton High students Erin Boehm, left, and Erica Bristow embrace April 20, 2000 during the benediction at a memorial service held on the anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Co. Several thousand students and community members gathered for a school assembly and a service at nearby Clement Park to commemorate the deaths of a year before. (Photo by Kevin Moloney/Newsmakers)
DENVER, : A man named Al -- who refused to give his last name -- stands in a wool army overcoat and helmet during a private protest across the street from where several thousand demonstrators voice their opposition to the National Rifle Association (NRA) convention 01 May 1999 in Denver, Colorado. Demonstrators were opposed to the NRA holding its annual convention in Denver after the 20 April 1999 Columbine High School shooting in which 15 people were killed and 23 injured. AFP PHOTO/Mark LEFFINGWELL (Photo credit should read MARK LEFFINGWELL/AFP/Getty Images)
N 349881 002 04/21/99 Littleton, Colorado Students Grieve And Set Up Memorial For Those Who Died During The Columbine High School Massacre (Photo By Kevin Moloney/Getty Images)
Two crosses are covered in snow at a make-shift memorial in a park 23 April 1999 next to Columbine High School in Littleton, CO, where fourteen students and one teacher were killed 20 April 1999. Two former students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, opened fire on their former classmates during what the police are calling a 'suicide mission'. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Jeff HAYNES (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)
389221 04: ***EXCLUSIVE*** (NO TABS WITHOUT LIAISON APPROVAL) Mark Taylor, a survivor of the Columbine High School shooting, gets a hug August 3, 2000 from his mother Donna Taylor, in the backyard of their Littleton, Colorado home. Taylor, who was shot eight times in the April 1999 massacre, spent over 50 days in hospital. (Photo by Thomas MIchael Alleman/Liaison)
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School shootings stir the gun control conversation

In the 12 months following the Columbine shooting, legislators put forth more than 800 new bills having to do with guns, Popular Science reported. The bills included measures to strengthen background checks and the protection of rights for gun owners who cross state lines. In total, Popular Science reported, about 10% of those bills passed.

In the year 2000, a measure that would have required sellers at gun shows to conduct the same kind of background checks that licensed dealers perform was defeated in the Colorado legislature.

But as the Guardianreported, Colorado citizens decided they had had enough and gathered the signatures needed to put the measure to a statewide vote in 2000. It passed with over 70% of the vote.

In the year following the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012, which left 20 children and six teachers dead, about 1,500 state gun bills were introduced across the nation, according to the New York Times. Of those, 178 passed at least one chamber of a state legislature and 109 became law — though some of the laws actually weakened, rather than strengthened, gun control.

Little action from Congress

On the federal level,Washington Post reported, "the only policy changes came from the executive branch, with President Obama's 23 executive actions to reduce gun violence."

"Since 13 people were killed at Columbine High School in 1999, Congress has passed one major law strengthening gun control in the aftermath of a mass shooting," the Washington Post reported in 2014.

However, that change didn't come until after the 2007 shooting at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute. There, a senior at the school shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 more, at the time making it the deadliest mass shooting carried out by a single shooter in the United States. Several months after that attack, Congress passed a law improving the national background check system. The new law added more records to the federal database to check for felons and mentally ill individuals, according to the Washington Post.

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Deadliest Mass Shootings in U.S. History
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A candlelight vigil is pictured on the Las Vegas strip following a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. Picture taken October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 02: Aryanna Williams, 6, and Mickey Deustch, 8, of Las Vegas, Nevada attend a vigil on the Las Vegas strip for the victims of the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings on October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Lone gunman Stephan Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada opened fire on festival attendees leaving at least 59 dead and over 500 injured before killing himself. The investigation is ongoing. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
People attend a candlelight vigil at the University of Las Vegas student union October 2, 2017, after a gunman killed at least 58 people and wounded more than 500 others when he opened fire on a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada late October 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Mourners hold up signs during a vigil in Washington, DC on June 12, 2016, in reaction to the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Fifty people died when a gunman allegedly inspired by the Islamic State group opened fire inside a gay nightclub in Florida, in the worst terror attack on US soil since September 11, 2001. / AFP / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 12: FBI agents investigate near the damaged rear wall of the Pulse Nightclub where Omar Mateen allegedly killed at least 50 people on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. The mass shooting killed at least 50 people and injuring 53 others in what is the deadliest mass shooting in the countryÃs history. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 12: A guest holds a sign remembering the Orlando Massacre at the LA PRIDE Music Festival and Parade 2016 on June 10, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/WireImage)
BLACKSBURG, VA - APRIL 17: Thousands of people attend a candlelight vigil on the campus of Virginia Tech April 17, 2007 in Blacksburg, Virginia. According to police, English major Cho Seung-Hui, 23, a native of South Korea, went on a shooting rampage that left a total of 33 people dead. It was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
LITTLETON, CO - APRIL 20: (VIDEO CAPTURE) Columbine high school shooters Eric Harris (L) and Dylan Klebold appear in this video capture of a surveillance tape released by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department in the cafeteria at Columbine High School April 20, 1999 in Littleton, CO during their shooting spree which killed 13 people. (Photo courtesy of Jefferson County Sheriff's Department via Getty Images)

Fort Hood, Texas, 13 killed

KILLEEN, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Sgt. Fanuaee Vea embraces Pvt. Savannah Green while trying to reach friends and family outside Fort Hood on November 5, 2009 in Killeen, Texas. At least one gunman killed 12 people and injured 31 in a shooting on a military base at Fort Hood this afternoon. One shooter was killed by military police and at least two other soldiers are in custody. (Photo by Ben Sklar/Getty Images)

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It all comes down to states

So, have gun laws become more relaxed over the last 18 years? Yes and no. On the federal level little has changed, but on a state level things are in a constant state of flux. As the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence reported in its 2016 end of year review, a dozen states passed gun control legislation that the center deemed as positive, including California's SB 1235, which requires all ammunition sellers to be licensed, to conduct background checks and to report ammunition sales records. Ohio also received positive recognition for SB 97, a measure prohibiting violent career criminals from knowingly buying, possessing or carrying a firearm.

On the flip side, the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence also reported new legislation that was enacted to weaken gun control, such as Arizona's HB 2338, which prohibits schools from restricting the carrying of guns on public rights of way, and Kansas' HB 2502, which prohibits restrictions on employees from carrying concealed guns at work and limits restrictions on firearms in public buildings.

"State gun laws are critical because our federal gun laws are extremely weak and leave enormous gaps," the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence said in a post. "For example, 40% of all gun sales can be completed without background checks because federal law doesn't require checks for firearm sales between private parties. Unless states step in and adopt their own smart laws, federal gaps like these allow guns to easily flow into the hands of criminals."

Gun laws vary widely from state to state, with states like California, New Jersey and Massachusetts all adopting far more progressive gun laws than places like Oklahoma, Kansas and Kentucky, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. And as the Atlantic reported, "the states that impose the most restrictions on gun users also have the lowest rates of gun-related deaths, while states with fewer regulations typically have a much higher death rate from guns."

As to why the federal government doesn't do more, Bill Clinton tried to explain it in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2000. "The NRA can muster an enormous percentage of the vote — maybe 15%, even 20% in some districts, because for those people guns are a primary voting issue," he said. "So if you've got a race where you're ahead 60 to 30, but in your 60%, gun control is a primary voting issue for 10% of the people, and in their 30 it's a primary voting issue for 20% of their people — the truth is, you're a net loser by 10%. That's what happens in Congress and state legislatures. They're genuinely afraid."

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