In the United States, access to guns is controlled by law under several federal statutes. These laws regulate the manufacture, trade, possession, transfer, record keeping, transport, and destruction of firearms, ammunition, and firearms accessories. “They are enforced by state agencies and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). In addition to federal gun laws, all state governments and some local governments have their own laws that regulate firearms.”
Under the Constitution of the USA, the Second Amendment usually governs the use of ammunition. However, there are not many federal court pronouncements, that clearly state the use of ammunition. There has been judicial pronouncement, where the Supreme Court’s held that arms can be kept as long as they are for lawful purposes and not connected with nay military services and if it is for an individual’s personal protection. In another case of McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010), “was a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States that found that the right of an individual to “keep and bear arms”, as protected under the Second Amendment, is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and is thereby enforceable against the states. The decision cleared up the uncertainty left in the wake of District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) as to the scope of gun rights regarding the states.”
Background on the McDonald Case: “A Chicago resident Otis McDonald, a 76-year-old retired maintenance engineer, had lived in the Morgan Park neighborhood since buying a house there in 1971. McDonald described the decline of his neighborhood and claimed it was being taken over by gangs and drug dealers. His lawn was regularly littered with refuse, and his home and garage had been broken into a combined five times, the most recent robbery being committed by a man whom McDonald recognized from his own neighborhood. As an experienced hunter, McDonald legally owned shotguns but believed them to be too unwieldy in the event of a robbery and so he wanted to purchase a handgun for personal home defense. Chicago’s requirement that all firearms in the city be registered but its refusal of all handgun registrations since 1982, when a citywide handgun ban was passed, made him unable to own a handgun legally. As a result, he joined three other Chicago residents in 2008 in filing a lawsuit that became McDonald v. City of Chicago.”
Federal Gun Laws:
“National Firearms Act (NFA) (1934): Taxes the manufacture and transfer of, and mandates the registration of Title II weapons such as machine guns, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, heavy weapons, explosive ordnance, suppressors, and disguised or improvised firearms.
Federal Firearms Act of 1938 (FFA): Requires that gun manufacturers, importers, and those in the business of selling firearms have a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Prohibits the transfer of firearms to certain classes of people, such as convicted felons.
Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968:Prohibited interstate trade in handguns, increased the minimum age to 21 for buying handguns.
Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA): Focuses primarily on regulating interstate commerce in firearms by generally prohibiting interstate firearms transfers except among licensed manufacturers, dealers and importers.
Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) (1986): Revised and partially repealed the Gun Control Act of 1968. Prohibited the sale to civilians of automatic firearms manufactured after the date of the law’s passage. Required ATF approval of transfers of automatic firearms.
Undetectable Firearms Act (1988): Effectively criminalizes, with a few exceptions, the manufacture, importation, sale, shipment, delivery, possession, transfer, or receipt of firearms with less than 3.7 oz of metal content.
Gun-Free School Zones Act (1990): Prohibits unauthorized individuals from knowingly possessing a firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone.
Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (1993): Requires background checks on most firearm purchasers, depending on seller and venue.
Federal Assault Weapons Ban (1994–2004): Banned semiautomatics that looked like assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices. The law expired in 2004.
Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (2004): Granted law enforcement officers and former law enforcement officers the right to carry a concealed firearm in any jurisdiction in the United States, regardless of state or local laws, with certain exceptions.
Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (2005): Prevents firearms manufacturers and licensed dealers from being held liable for negligence when crimes have been committed with their products.
Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (2022): Expands background checks for purchasers under 21 to include their juvenile records, requires more sellers to have an FFL, funds state crisis intervention programs, further criminalizes arms trafficking and straw purchases, and closes the “boyfriend loophole”.”
“The United States is witnessing another year of record gun violence, raising domestic and international scrutiny of its comparatively loose gun laws, and placing pressure on lawmakers to enact meaningful reforms. The debate over U.S. gun laws has raged for decades, often reigniting after high-profile mass shootings. Gun violence has surged amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Gun ownership and gun homicide rates are high in the United States in comparison to rates in other advanced democracies. Mass shootings in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom prompted those governments to tighten gun laws.”
Let us look at some statistics in order to understand the problem we face on loose gun laws and why there is a need for stricter version of statutory laws: “There are differences in gun ownership rates by political party affiliation, gender, geography and other factors. For instance, 44% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they personally own a gun, compared with 20% of Democrats and Democratic leaders. Men are more likely than women to say they own a gun (39% vs. 22%). And 41% of adults living in rural areas report owning a firearm, compared with about 29% of those living in the suburbs and two-in-ten living in cities.
Federal data suggests that gun sales have risen in recent years, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. In 2020, the number of monthly federal background checks for gun purchases was consistently at least 20% higher than in the same month in 2019, according to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The largest comparative percentage point difference occurred in July 2020 – when about 3.6 million background checks were completed, 44% more than were conducted in July 2019.”
“The U.S. homicide rate is over 7 times greater than those of other industrialized economies. In 2020, guns accounted for almost 80% of U.S. homicides.”
Suicide: “More than 60% of all gun deaths are suicides. Evidence consistently shows that access to firearms increases the risk of suicide. Access to a gun in the home increases the odds of suicide more than three-fold. Firearms are so dangerous when someone is at risk for suicide because they are the most lethal suicide attempt method. Though research shows that few individuals substitute means for suicide if their preferred method is not available, if firearms are not available, the person at risk for suicide is much more likely to survive even if they attempt using another method. Delaying a suicide attempt can also allow suicidal crises to pass and lead to fewer suicides. Ninety percent of individuals who attempt suicide do not go on to die by suicide. The use of a firearm in a suicide attempt often means there is no second chance.”
About 1% of all gun deaths are unintentional. “Unintentional” is the description used for a death that was not caused purposely. In gun violence, examples include fatal injuries that occur when a weapon misfires or is mishandled by a child and results in the victim being shot (in contrast with homicide and suicide, both of which involve an intent to pull the trigger and cause harm). Easy access to firearms, particularly unsecured firearms and the presence of firearms in risky situations, increases risk of unintentional injury and death by firearm. Mitigating access with safer storage practices and through evidence-based policy prevents unintentional gun violence.”
Why Gun control is the need of the hour? “In the United States, mass murders committed with guns are so frequent that the vast majority of them are not even mentioned in mainstream media outlets. Those that happen to be massive or heinous enough to gain national attention—including the murder of 49 people in an Orlando nightclub in 2016 and the massacre of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012—typically spark a short-lived and fruitless debate about the need for stricter gun control. Politicians of both major parties, fearful of retaliation from the National Rifle Association (NRA), solemnly offer their “thoughts and prayers” while refusing to enact reasonable and constitutional measures now favored by a majority of Americans, such as expanded background checks for gun purchases and the reinstatement of a federal ban on assault weapons, which Congress allowed to lapse in 2004.”
Gun control simply means imposing legal control or restrictions on the use of guns particularly ammunitions and arms. In most countries, gun laws are stricter where it is necessary to be registered or licensed if one is planning on buying one. Some countries also consider possession of arms necessary for public safety. As such, the topic of “gun control” is very much controversial in the United States. As shown in the statistics above, it is common for most households to possess arms – the question is what stops drug lords or criminals from possessing one too?
 Gun law in the United States - Wikipedia  "Summary of Federal Firearms Laws" (PDF). U.S. Dept. of Justice. September 2010.  Supra 1.  McDonald v. City of Chicago - Wikipedia  Ibid.  Below stated points are retrieved from: Gun law in the United States - Wikipedia  Gun law in the United States - Wikipedia  U.S. Gun Policy: Global Comparisons | Council on Foreign Relations (cfr.org)  Key facts about Americans and guns | Pew Research Center  Gun Violence in the U.S. | Econofact  Gun Violence in the United States - The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (efsgv.org)  Underlying Cause of Death, 1999-2020 Request (cdc.gov)  Supra 11.  Gun Control in the U.S. | Britannica
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