US Gun Control Laws and Issues Paper Example

Gun Control Laws

Gun Control law is an effort to lessen violent behavior caused by use of firearms by regulating their possession and utilize. Gun control efforts usually focus on passing legislation by local, state, or national government to restrict legal ownership of certain firearms. Nearly all countries have some restrictions on firearms. The federal government and all U.S. states have some gun control laws. These laws are based on several strategies: forbidding certain types of people from obtaining any firearms; prohibiting anyone other than the police, the military, and persons with special needs from acquiring certain types of guns; and requiring purchasers to wait some period before purchasing a gun or gun license. Federal law and many state laws also prohibit minors from obtaining guns. Proponents of strict gun control laws argue that reducing the number of crimes committed with guns would save lives. Each year in the United States, more than 35,000 people are killed by guns, a death rate much higher than that in any other industrial nation. Attacks involving a gun are five times more likely to result in a death than are similar attacks made with a knife. In 1997 guns were the weapon used in approximately 70 percent of the murders in the United States. However, gun control laws are controversial. While gun control laws may decrease criminals’ access to guns, the same laws restrict law-abiding citizens. About half of all U.S. families own at least one gun. The most frequent motives for gun ownership are protecting the home, hunting or target shooting, and collecting. Gun control laws aim to reduce the criminal use of guns as much as possible while not putting large burdens on legitimate gun users. (John Lott Jr (2003)

According to more than a few current U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have annoyed conservatives, foreign court decisions are supposed to have a bearing on U.S. jurisprudence. During a U.S. Supreme Court statutory ruling, five justices on that valued court have held the law of the land permits gun ownership by convicted criminal provided the convictions were in foreign courts. In Small v. United States, the concern was that Gary Small had been in a Japanese penitentiary for 3 years for unlawful arms trafficking. He got out, and afterward bought a gun in the United States. Question: Could he be punished under 18 U. S. C. § 922(g)(1), which makes it “illegal for any person, who has been convicted in any court, of a crime liable to be punished by incarceration for a term exceeding one year to possess any firearm”? The Court’s liberals said “no,” for the reason that “any court” didn’t mean foreign courts. Justice Thomas, joined by Justices Scalia and Kennedy, disagreed.

Opponents of gun control laws, together with organizations such as the National Rifle Association (NRA), point to the cause of inconvenience to these laws may root to law-abiding gun buyers or owners. Another objection to gun control laws concerns the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which reads, “A well-regulated militia being essential to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. Those who be in opposition to restrictions on gun ownership find support in the language of the Second Amendment and believe that it should be interpreted to guarantee citizens free access to firearms. On the other hand, the courts have never struck down a gun control law because of this provision. In some cases, the courts have interpreted the Second Amendment as applying only to militia weapons, and in other cases, they have simply affirmed that the amendment does not bar government regulations on gun possession. On the other hand, the Second Amendment has been an significant part of the dispute on gun control. The central government and all U.S. states have some gun control laws. These laws are based on several strategies: forbidding certain types of people from obtaining any firearms; prohibiting anyone other than the police, the military, and persons with special needs from acquiring certain types of guns; and requiring purchasers to wait some period before purchasing a gun or gun license.

Gun control advocates have in addition projected laws treating handguns as special high-risk weapons that common citizens should not have possession of. These proposals are contentious. Their backers disagree that handguns are without doubt covered and are much more possible to be used in transgression than are rifles and shotguns. Opponents of handgun restrictions argue that taking handguns from law-abiding citizens would not prevent the possession of guns by criminals. Despite this controversy, some localities and states have laws that rigorously restrict private ownership of handguns. Other strategies for controlling guns require the licensing of guns or waiting periods before purchasing a gun. (Richard Poe (2001)

These strategies are planned to consent to time for law enforcement officials to make sure that a buyer is not prohibited from owning a gun. Some U.S. states have adopted laws based on these strategies, and in 1993, after a seven-year battle, the U.S. Congress passed the Brady Bill, named after former White House press secretary James Brady. Brady and his wife, Sarah, became proponents of gun control after Brady was shot and seriously wounded during a 1981 assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.

The supposed Brady Law, which went into effect in 1994, to begin with provided a five-day waiting period to allow local law enforcement officials to make sure the purchaser be not disqualified from owning a handgun. The law also established licensing fees. In 1998, a new computerized verification system replaced the five-day waiting period requirement. Under the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) administered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), firearms dealers submit the names of potential buyers into the system and can more rapidly ascertain whether the sale may proceed.

Most attempts to decrease gun propagation have relied on lawmaking parameter. On the other hand, in the late 1990s gun control advocates attempted to use financial sanctions, rather than regulation, to minimize gun violence. Several cities filed lawsuits against gun manufacturers and distributors, arguing that gun dealers be supposed to pay for the cities’ increased costs of law enforcement and health care resulting from gun violence. Some of these lawsuits, such as those filed by Chicago, Illinois, and Bridgeport, Connecticut, alleged that gun manufacturers acted negligently (not vigilantly enough) when marketing and distributing their products. The cities contended that gun manufacturers oversupplied gun dealers in areas with weak gun restrictions, knowing that individuals from areas with tougher laws would buy the guns. Other cities, such as New Orleans, Louisiana, and Atlanta, Georgia, used a different approach in lawsuits against gun makers. These cities alleged that gun makers failed to include sufficient safety devices in their handguns, making the guns “irrationally unsafe”, growing gun violence, and the cities’ costs to deal with the violence. (Estaver, Aron J (2005)

Gun manufacturers and additional opponents of gun limitations objected to the cities’ lawsuits, claiming the suits would unlawfully insolvent gun makers who were operating legal businesses. They argued that gun makers and dealers should not be blamed for misuse of their products. Opponents of the litigation lobbied for legislation prohibiting lawsuits that attempt to hold gun manufacturers and distributors liable for the results of gun use, and several state legislatures adopted such a statute. Members of the U.S. Congress also introduced federal legislation on the matter. In another new strategy, in 1999 gun control advocates began efforts to subject gun manufacturers to federal product-safety regulations. For example, lawmakers introduced federal legislation that would eliminate the gun industry’s exemption from product-safety regulation and give the U.S. Department of the Treasury authority over design, manufacture, and distribution of guns. Industry representatives and gun enthusiasts objected to federal regulation, stating that existing design standards that the gun industry had voluntarily adopted made guns sufficiently safe.

To diminish the threat of continuous proceedings, some gun manufacturers have begun to consider self-imposed changes in their manufacturing and business practices. In 2000, one of the largest handgun manufacturers in the United States, Smith & Wesson, approved to changes in its handgun design and distribution. Under the terms of the agreement with federal, state, and local governments, the company pledged to include child-safety locks on all of its handguns, to design new guns with a safety piece of equipment that would prevent them from being fired by unauthorized users, and to implement a feature that would allow users to tell whether a handgun is loaded. In return, more than a few states, cities, and counties agreed to drop Smith & Wesson from lawsuits they had filed against gun manufacturers and to let off the corporation from future lawsuits. (Bill Mears (2005)


Bill Mears (2005) High court: Foreign convictions don’t prevent gun ownership in U.S. CNN Washington Bureau, Tuesday, April 26.

Estaver, Aron J (2005) Dangerous criminals or dangerous courts: foreign felonies as predicate offenses under section 922(g)(1) of the Gun Control Act of 1968. Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law; January 1.

Richard Poe (2001) The seven myths of gun control , isbn 0716152425-8.

John Lott Jr (2003) The Bias against guns,  isbn 0895261146.