> on July 12, 2010 in Lockport, Illinois.

A growing number of states are moving forward with legislation to exempt them from new federal gun controls and, in some cases, brand as criminals anyone who tries to enforce them.

While many of the bills are considered symbolic or appear doomed to fail, the legislative explosion reflects a backlash against legislative and regulatory efforts in Washington to tamp down on gun violence.

As of this week, at least 28 states had taken up consideration of gun bills this year, according to new data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures. More than 70 bills have been put forward in all.

The burst of activity comes as the Obama administration and Congress pursue a series of gun control measures in the wake of December’s shooting massacre in Connecticut, which left 20 schoolchildren and six adults dead.

In addition to dozens of bills pending in the House and Senate, the Justice Department and other agencies are moving ahead 23 executive actions announced by President Obama in January.