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There are new proposed gun control laws in the aftermath of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut that occurred on December 14th, 2012. This incident claimed the lives of twenty 1st graders and six adults and has set the government in motion to try to prevent future acts of violence by strengthening gun control laws in the United States (Smith). This has been a topic that has been an extremely emotional debate with people on both sides unwilling to compromise. Gun advocates and critics of the new proposed gun laws argue that these new laws infringe on our constitutional right to bear arms; however, the new laws do not take away that right, they simply add minor restrictions in the search to put an end to gun violence. With the rise in gun violence today, we need to take some sort of action.
If we look at the history of gun control in the United States, we find that laws concerning gun control are not anything new; in fact, the first federal gun control law was the National Firearms Act of 1934. This law imposed a restrictive two hundred dollar tax on the manufacture or sale of machine guns and sawed-off shotguns. Also, all sales of these weapons were to be documented in a national registry (The Long). Then in 1968, a new law passed. This was the Gun Control Act of 1968 and it was the first major gun control law in America. It prohibited certain people from being able to purchase firearms including convicted felons, fugitives, minors, individuals with a history of mental illness, dishonorable discharged veterans, expatriates and illegal aliens (Riczo). This law also expanded licensing requirements to more firearms dealers and ordered more detailed records of sales (The Long).
Continuing on gun control laws throughout American history, the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act of 1993 established background checks for gun purchasers. This law was passed to insure that no firearms would be sold to the people listed in the 1968 regulation. These background checks are required only on sales through licensed dealers, not on sales through unlicensed private sellers who do not sell firearms as a business, with the exception of certain states. Then in 1994, a ten year ban was placed on the production of nineteen listed new semi-automatic assault weapons with the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. Some of these weapons that were banned include the AR-15, some versions of the AK-47, the Uzi, the MAC-10 and the TEC-9. Along with the banning of these assault rifles, large capacity ammunition magazines were limited to ten rounds. This ban was lifted in 2004 when it expired and attempts to reinstate this law failed (The Long).
Amidst these gun control laws that regulate firearm sales, there have been several laws that protect the rights of gun owners as well as gun dealers and manufacturers. The Firearm Owner’s Protection Act of 1986 was passed by Congress amid complaints that the government was abusing its power while enforcing gun control laws. This law restricts the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms from inspecting gun dealers more than once a year, unless multiple violations have been discovered. This law also prohibits the government from creating a national registry of gun ownership. In 2003, the Tiahrt Amendment was passed that forbids law enforcement from releasing information to the public as to where criminals purchased their firearms. Again in 2005, a law passed where gun manufacturers were granted immunity from civil lawsuits involving crimes with firearms; therefore, they would not be held accountable for the adverse effects of the weapons they manufacture. This law is called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (The Long).
Looking at this history of gun control in the U.S., it is not such a stretch that...