A new law makes California’s oversight over the booming guard industry one of the strongest in the country. Credit: Sarah Rice for Reveal

This year has seen few successes for increased training and regulation of security guards, according to a new Stateline report.

The news report, citing Reveal’s Hired Guns investigation, found lawmakers in many states had tried and largely failed to increase regulation of security guards this year.

About 90 security-related bills were introduced in state legislatures, the report states, but none of the bills that would have created substantial changes were enacted, according to Steve Amitay, director of the National Association of Security Companies.

“In some of these states, it’s a very anti-regulatory environment and they think any additional regulation on businesses or people performing services is bad,” Amitay said in the report. “With other folks, it’s a resource issue. For the state to start regulating an industry and requiring licenses requires initial appropriations and startup costs.”

One of the failed bills would have required guards in Connecticut to receive 16 hours of training, instead of eight, and an additional 16 hours of firearms training for armed guards. Connecticut Democratic state Rep. Stephen Dargan said he was inspired to act following the mass shootings in Newton.

“With what’s going on around the country right now and after our horrific incident in Newtown, we thought this was an important issue,” Dargan said.

But the bill failed, Dargan said, in part because of pushback from security companies.

“Sometimes, you get pushback from some of these security companies,” Dargan said. “Often, in tough economic times, it’s the cost factor.”

Check out Reveal’s interactive map to look up regulations in your state.

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Shoshana Walter

Shoshana Walter is a reporter for Reveal, covering criminal justice. She and reporter Amy Julia Harris exposed how courts across the country are sending defendants to rehabs that are little more than lucrative work camps for private industry. Their work was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in national reporting. It also won the Knight Award for Public Service, a Sigma Delta Chi Award for investigative reporting, and an Edward R. Murrow Award, and was a finalist for the Selden Ring, IRE and Livingston Awards. It led to numerous government investigations, two criminal probes and five federal class-action lawsuits alleging slavery, labor violations and fraud.

Walter's investigation on America's armed security guard industry revealed how armed guard licenses have been handed out to people with histories of violence, even people barred by courts from owning guns. Walter and reporter Ryan Gabrielson won the 2015 Livingston Award for Young Journalists for national reporting based on the series, which prompted new laws and an overhaul of California’s regulatory system. For her 2016 investigation about the plight of "trimmigrants," marijuana workers in California's Emerald Triangle, Walter embedded herself in illegal mountain grows and farms. There, she encountered an epidemic of sex abuse and human trafficking in the industry – and a criminal justice system focused more on the illegal drugs. The story prompted legislation, a criminal investigation and grass-roots efforts by the community, including the founding of a worker hotline and safe house.

Walter began her career as a police reporter for The Ledger in Lakeland, Florida, and previously covered violent crime and the politics of policing in Oakland, California, for The Bay Citizen. Her narrative nonfiction as a local reporter garnered a national Sigma Delta Chi Award and a Gold Medal for Public Service from the Florida Society of News Editors. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, she has been a Dart Center Ochberg fellow for journalism and trauma at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a John Jay/Harry Frank Guggenheim fellow in criminal justice journalism. She is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.