The history of gun control in the US begins with the enactment of a major gun control initiative in 1938 by congress which targeted the sale of automatic firearms. This was followed by a regulation in 1938 that required licensing of weapon owners and prohibited the sale of weapons to persons who had committed felonies. In 1968 the gun control act further regulated the importation and sale of guns to minors, mentally incompetent, and illegal gun owners. Another significant regulation was enacted in 1990 barring importation and manufacture of semi-automatic guns. The Brady bill named after a press aide who was injured in an attempted assault on president Reagan was passed in 1994(Ludwig and cook, pg230). This bill among other things, provided for a five day waiting period for prospective gun purchasers. During the waiting period, the law enforcement agencies were mandated to perform background checks on the prospective weapon buyers. Currently, this section has been scrapped after the introduction of a national computer system that enabled gun dealers to do an instant check of the background of purchasers instantly. In the year 1994, a ten year ban on assault weapons such as assault rifles was put in place. In 2004 the senate sought to extend the ban but the attempt was unsuccessful (Glaeser and Glendon, pg 460).
State and local gun control
States have developed various regulations with regard to weapon ownership. These regulations are consistent with the federal law however there are slight modifications in different states.
Weapon access by minor’s prevention: Most states have formulated legislation that makes it a crime to give weapons to a minor or keep them inaccessible areas. The age limit for minors may differ
Concealed weapon laws: The majority of the states require one to seek a permit for concealing weapons only one state Vermont that does enforce this requirement. Usually, acquisition of the license is not complex except for felons and requires one to prove the need for concealing the weapon.
Regulation on all secondary market sales: Secondary sources refer to points of sale other than those from the dealers. Secondary sources are regulated in the majority of the states because this gives a loophole for the acquisition of weapons by minors.
Assault weapons ban: Assault weapons have been banned in different states such as California and Maryland.
“One a month laws”
This refers to the acquisition of weapons by minors and felons by circumventing the law through the purchase of weapons from individuals who buy in bulk. This together with the secondary market enable minors to acquire guns
Effectiveness of gun regulations
To an extent formulation and enactment of policies has lessened ownership of guns by minors and felons. Only 3% of the gun applications have been denied, however considering the repercussions of allowing felons to own weapons the number is significant (Ludwig and cook, 208). Activists believe that available legislation and measures allow criminals to obtain guns easily. Deaths resulting from private gun ownership are usually due to homicides and assaults. Gun control advocates support the use of trigger locks and one gun per person per month. One of the recent developments that rekindled the debate on gun ownership is the occurrence of several school shootings.