A History of Gun Control in the United States
Gun control is again in the fore front of discussion all across the United States. It is a worthy effort to learn about the history of gun control in order to be able to join the debate. There are many laws and Supreme Court rulings that involve gun control.
The right to own and bear arms was outlined in the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights:
“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”
Until 1968, hand guns, rifles and shotguns were bought and sold in stores and by mail order to anyone that could afford to have them. Since that time, gun control legislation and Supreme Court rulings have slowly but surely have been passed over a period of decades.
As early as 1847, gun control laws were being passed with the first attempt in Georgia. Georgia tried to ban hand guns but this law was found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. That has not stopped the government from passing or trying to pass further legislation to ban guns. In 1865, some southern states passed laws that forbid the ownership of guns by freed slaves. In 1934, the National Firearms Act was passed. This law served to tax and regulate automatic forearms. The Federal Firearms Act was passed in 1939. This law established federal licensing for firearm dealers and record keeping of firearm transactions. In 1968, the Gun Control Act was passed as a reaction to the death of John Kennedy. This law expanded licensing dealers and it also banned the mail order sales of long guns. Finally, it made it illegal for people with mental illness, convicted felons and drug dealers to possess firearms. In 1986, the Hughes Amendment made it illegal to sell automatic firearms made after May of 1986. 1990 brought us the Crime Control Act. The main purpose of this law was to create “Gun Free Zones” for schools. The Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act was passed in 1993. This law brought the five day waiting period and mandatory background checks. It set up the National Instant Background Check System (NICS) that is still used today for purchasing guns. In 1994, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was passed. This was also called the Assault Weapons Ban and it made certain semi-automatic weapons illegal. This ban was based on what the rifle looked like and not its actual function. This law expired in 2004 and was ineffective. In 2007, the NCIS Improvement Act was established. This law expanded funds to the NCIS and encouraged states to submit mental health records to the NCIS. This law was passed as a reaction to the Virginia Tech shootings. In 2008, the DC handgun ban was struck down by the Supreme Court. What happened to the crime rate in DC when the handgun ban was struck down? Did crime go suddenly up as many politicians believe? Let’s look at the facts:
This demonstrates the opposite is true. There was a rise in crime as the handgun ban took effect. When, the gun ban was lifted, the crime rate actually dropped. Maybe this is a fluke. Let’s look at another example, Chicago. In 1982, the City of Chicago banned handguns. Then, in 2010, the Supreme Court ruled these laws Unconstitutional. This graphic demonstrates the crime rate after the ban was established.
Again, there was a sharp increase in crime when the gun ban becomes effective.
Gun Control Laws are still being discussed and many politicians are constantly beating the gun control drum. What are the facts when it comes to the effectiveness of these laws?
As of 2009, there are about 307 million people in the United States. There are 300 million firearms in the United States as of 2010. Of those 300 million firearms, 100 million of them are handguns. Based on a 2008 survey from the US Department of Justice, 5,340,000 violent crimes were committed in the United States. Of those, only 8% were committed with the visible use of a firearm. A 1993 National survey of over almost 5,000 households found that in the past 5 years, 3.5% of those households had used a firearm for protection of themselves, family and property. 1994 survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that Americans use guns to frighten away intruders who are breaking into their homes about 498,000 times per year.
The most telling survey was one completed in prisons in 1982. 34% had been “scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim” 40% had decided not to commit a crime because they “knew or believed that the victim was carrying a gun” 69% personally knew other criminals who had been “scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim”. Clearly, responsible gun owners are a huge deterrent to crime based just on this survey.
Right to carry Laws are found in many states. Usually, Right to Carry permits are required for Conceal Carry, but some states allow open carry. Politicians tell us that these laws help to make crime worse. That these responsible gun owners that have the right and permit to protect themselves, are creating more crime by their actions. Once again, the facts don’t support these allegations. A look at Florida is one example. On October 1, 1987, Florida’s right-to-carry law became effective. Since the outset of the Florida right-to-carry law, the Florida murder rate has averaged 36% lower than it was before the law took effect, while the U.S. murder rate has averaged 15% lower.
Again, this demonstrates that an armed population is a safer population. Similar graphs can be found from Texas and Michigan. All these graphics prove that “Right to Carry” reduces the incidence of crime. Contrary to what politicians would have you believe.
Politicians continue to attack the Second Amendment. The newest is from the Obama administration. Obama promises to now conduct a government study about gun violence. In the future, people that want to buy or own guns will be subject to a variety of questions. This government data collection is the newest approach to try to deny people the Rights of the Second Amendment. It also will collect data as to the type and number of weapons that you own. The push of this study is to keep Gun Control laws in the forefront.
Americans need to be armed with information to combat new Gun Laws. I hope information in this article will be the beginning of the information highway for responsible gun owners. A gun is a tool, it can be used for good or evil. It depends on the intent of the one wielding the weapon.
Stay tuned for more articles about the Second Amendment………