Changes in gun control have become prevalent across the United States in the last two years. Regulations have ranged from becoming much stricter and requiring a lengthy process in order obtain a firearm to lessening regulation and allowing persons to conceal carry without any training. These regulations are due to the two distinct arguments between protecting America’s Second Amendment right and protecting the people.
United States and the Second Amendment
Rights to guns and gun ownership is one of the most debated issues in the United States. Some believe that gun ownership is a birthright and an important and essential part of America’s heritage. Others believe that there is no reason for civilians to have firearms. Many people fall somewhere in between. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states: “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.” The United States ranks number one in number of firearms per capita and has the fifth highest rate of total homicides from guns in the world, and the highest rate of firearm-related murders of all developed countries.
Here is an infographic detailing gun ownership in America and worldwide.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits the sale of firearms to people who are under eighteen, have a criminal record, are mentally disabled, were dishonorably discharged military personnel and others. The federal law is the minimum standards for gun regulation in the states. States can choose to enact their own regulations depending on the general belief of the state’s inhabitants on gun control and regulation.
Throughout the 2000s, there has been a lot of debate over whether or not the United States gun regulation laws are too relaxed. Since Columbine in 1999, there have more and more school and public shootings. After the Aurora Movie Theater Shooting resulting in 12 deaths and 70 injured and the Sandy Hook Massacre resulting in the death of 20 elementary students and 6 adults, the Obama administration began talk of increasing gun control in an attempt to stop instances like these from happening in the future. This proposed plan involved universal background checks for gun sales, the reinstatement and strengthening of assault weapons ban, to limit ammunition magazines to a 10-round capacity, and other measures. Although it seemed inevitable after these shootings that gun control would become stricter, little has been done on the federal level since then.
Increased State Gun Regulation
Since the Newton shooting, 37 states have passed a total of 99 laws to strengthen gun regulations according to Smartgunlaws.org. This page details states that have either strengthened or introduced laws in order to increase gun control in their state since the 2012. These include laws about background checks, assault weapons, domestic violence and mental health. This nonprofit also releases a “Gun Laws Scorecard” every year that is an interactive map with grades of safety given to each state based off of their gun laws in the previous year. Here is an example of the map for the highest rated state, California.
This site praises California for having some of the strongest gun laws in the United States and enacting their historic Gun Violence Restraining Order Law – allowing family members and law enforcement officers to seek a Gun Violence Restraining Order (GVRO) against people who pose a threat to themselves or others. Another massive shooting in Isla Vista on May 23, 2014 inspired this law.
There are a number of other bills and ordinances proposed around the US this year based off of past tragedy. Due to a toy gun being mistaken for a real gun and the resulting death of 12 year old Tamir Rice, Burlington, Iowa is looking into an ordinance that would make it illegal to openly carry a toy gun. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania proposed Act 192 that would forbid possession of guns by minors and discharging of guns in the city and in parks, mandate reports of lost or stolen guns and prohibit the sale or display of guns while the city is under a state of emergency. The Vermont senate approved new gun regulations with S.141 in April, 2015 that will make it illegal for violent felons to possess a gun and also require that people with adjudicated mental illness be reported to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Many states are attempting to strengthen regulations, but many others are moving in the opposite direction.
Decreased State Gun Regulation
Many states have been in the news throughout the last year for decreasing gun regulation in their states. Missouri passed bill in 2014 that sought to nullify virtually every federal gun control measure with HB1439. Montana and Arizona recently passed bills to block federal gun control. Montana’s HB 203 prohibits the state “from enforcing, assisting in the enforcement of or otherwise cooperating in the enforcement of a federal at enacted on or after January 1, 2015 that prohibits, restricts, or requires individual licensure for ownership, possession, transfer or use of any firearm or any magazine or other ammunition feeding device.” Arizona’s SB1330 reads, “All federal act, laws, orders, rules and regulations that are in violation of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, that are unauthorized by the Constitution and that violate the Second Amendment’s true meaning and intent as given by the founders and ratifiers of the United States Constitution are invalid and void in this state.” Texas is attempting to pass a similar bill, HB 176, which would deem all federal restrictions “invalid” and “not enforceable.”
The House of Representatives attempted to block virtually all of DC’s gun restrictions, among the strictest in the country, and approved a budget that would leave only the federal law to regulate firearms in the capital in 2014. Ohio’s HB234 now allows hunters to use suppressors, as well as relaxes several of the state’s requirements for the concealed carrying of handguns.
In the beginning of April, Kansas signed into law SB45, that will allow concealed carry without permit or training to their residents. According to the NRA, murder rates have gone down in states that have adopted permit-less carry laws, declining by 23 percent in Alaska, 16 percent in Arizona and 8 percent in Wyoming.
Current State of America’s Gun Regulations.
According to a survey done by Gallup, published at the end of 2014, Americans’ dissatisfaction with gun laws is the highest since 2001. Here are some infographics on their findings.
Gallup states that satisfaction with guns laws is close to the middle on a list of 19 issues they measured for their annual Mood of the Nation survey. They found that Americans who want less strict laws is up to 16% (5% in 2013) and support for making gun laws stricter fell to 31% (38% in 2013). According to their findings, more Americans are dissatisfied with the strictness of gun control instead of the lack there of.
In my opinion, I feel as though there should be more regulation on guns throughout the United States. I do believe requiring the same amount of regulation to drive a car is appropriate for gun control. A universal background check can continue to help guns not fall into the wrong hands. I also believe that every gun owner should go to training to be appropriately educated on how to fire and use a gun and maintain it in a safe manner. What are your thoughts?