Gun Laws Have Changed

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While gun laws have changed repeatedly throughout the years, the safety of the United States citizens has continued to be in danger ever since guns have been allowed in the United States, in 1619. When we take a step back and look at the history of gun control, it began with the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment provides U.S. citizens the right to bear arms.

Ratified in December 1791, the amendment says: 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 Second Amendment was proposed by James Madison to give power to State Militias otherwise known as today’s National Guard. It was a good way to compromise federalists and anti-federalists. Having just used guns and other arms to ward off the English, the amendment was originally created to give citizens the opportunity to fight back against a tyrannical federal government. Americans often disagree about the meaning and or the interpretation of the amendment.

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Some people believe the amendment means it provides for collective rights, while others find that that it provides individual rights. Those who take the collective side think the amendment gives each state the right to maintain and train formal militia units that can provide protection against an oppressive federal government. They argue the “well regulated militia” clause clearly means the right to bear arms should only be given to these organized groups. They believe this allows for only those in the official militia to carry guns legally, and say the federal government cannot abolish state militias. Some people believe, to protect themselves in the face of danger, the amendment gives every citizen the right to own guns, without any federal regulations. It is thought that the amendment militia clause was never meant to restrict each citizen’s rights to bear arms.

Gun Law proposals face a major uphill battle in Congress for many reasons. For one, leadership in both chambers must support it. For any debate to seriously take place in Congress, it must first have the blessing of the top two Republican leaders:. For example, during the time of the Florida shooting in 2018, the leaders were Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and the House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. They essentially control floor action and decide which bills get votes. But so far, they have yet to signal how they’ll address this issue.

The Democratic party doesn’t have as much control over action on the Senate floor and the House, although they will be major factors in just how unified their party will be on the issue, as long as they stay together. Democrats have the loudest voice on being pro-gun control, but not all members of the party in Congress want to address it. Some, for example, are from states or districts where gun control is not so popular, and that Trump won by far.

The Senate is also required to have 60 votes to pass most Legislation. For almost all legislation to advance in the Senate, it must first acquire support from 60 senators on a key procedural vote before moving on to final passage, which only requires a majority. Such a rule is designed to make sure bills have at least some bipartisan support. Although, the 60-vote threshold has thrown off major legislative efforts in the past. For example, soon after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, the Congress made a major proposal on a gun control-related package in 2013.

The bill was to expand background checks on gun purchases only, and it managed to get only 54 votes, despite some bipartisan support. The current balance of power stands at 51 Republicans to 49 Democrats (or independents who caucus with Democrats). That means that even if all Democrats supported a gun control measure, they would need 11 Republicans to hit that magic number of 60.
In recent years, the National Rifle Association, or the NRA, has consistently objected to gun law changes. They argue that any further restrictions would restrict Second Amendment rights and lead to more gun violence.

While the NRA has been supportive of the Cornyn-Murphy bill that better enforces existing laws, it opposes raising the age requirement for rifles and shotguns. Instead, the NRA calls for a better mental health system and more security at places like schools to address mass shootings. I said five years ago, after that horrible tragedy in Newtown — and I wish, oh God I wish, more had heeded my words — so, lean in, listen to me now and never forget these words: To stop a bad guy with a gun, it takes a good guy with a gun,’ said Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president and CEO at the NRA.

The NRA even donates some money directly to campaign committees and candidates. But they spend the vast majority of their money on outside expenditures and lobbying, like making powerful ads that could either support or oppose candidates. For example, in the 2016 election, they gave nearly $1.1 million directly to party committees and congressional candidates. While that seems like alot, they also spent $54.4 million on outside spending.

The NRA also has influence on people with their report card system. The NRA grades candidates on a scale of “A” — “F”, with an “A” candidate being someone who’s made “a vigorous effort to promote and defend the Second Amendment,” while an “F” candidate is a “true enemy of gun owners’ rights.” While more liberal candidates freely tout their “F” rating, some are happy to announce their support from the NRA. Overall, the NRA is very big on making sure that their wide membership knows where candidates stand on gun rights.

When it comes to the people purchasing firearms, some people fear people with violent pasts, or mental disabilities will be able to get their hands on one. The opposing argument to this, would be background checks but unfortunately, background checks are not as reliable as people sell them to be. In order to own a gun, you are required to have a background check. These laws are crucial to keeping guns away from abusers, felons, and other people who may be prone to violence. However, these laws vary by state, regarding categories of prohibited people. Because of this, a dangerous person could be denied a gun in one state, and could buy one in another. This is one of the weak spots in federal and state attempts to prevent gun violence.

Due to Federal Law, people who fall within the categories of domestic abusers, specific kinds of mental health histories, and or convicted felons are prohibited from purchasing a firearm. Expanding state laws to cover these categories of individuals would close a glaring gap in federal law that makes it easier for guns to fall into the wrong hands. A 2012 study of the 13 states with the most lenient firearm possession laws found that almost a third of incarcerated gun offenders were not prohibited from buying the crime gun ” but would have been prohibited if their states had adopted stricter standards similar to those in place in a number of other states.7 In the 13 states with lenient gun laws, nothing prevented these firearm offenders from legally purchasing their guns.

Federal law does not generally include other types of people identified by public health researchers as being at a significantly higher risk than the general population of being dangerous, including:

  • Those who have been convicted of violent or gun-related misdemeanors
  • Those with a history of abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Those convicted of juvenile offenses
  • Additional people who have suffered from severe mental illness

Background checks are a way to control the flow of guns in the United States. The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 handles these checks. When background checks were first required, they took several days. Buyers had to wait five days between applying for a gun purchase and completing the purchase, otherwise known as the cool off period. In November 1998, the FBI unveiled the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Using this electronic system, federally licensed dealers can perform an instant background check on anyone trying to purchase a firearm. The dealer completes a document called a Firearms Transaction Record. It includes information about the buyer and the gun. The dealer submits this document to NICS, which informs the dealer of the buyer’s status within minutes.

After this is completed, the dealer can receive one of three responses. They can receive proceed, denied, or delayed. If given proceed, the buyer is given access to complete their transaction. If the buyer is given denied, that means the background check turned up with information, and this is typically a criminal record. This legally prevents the buyer from purchasing the firearm, and the transaction is stopped. If the buyer receives delayed, that means the background check turned up with information, but not necessarily a criminal record, but information that could possibly prevent the buyer from legally purchasing a firearm.

Although, due to the fact that the information is incomplete, further investigation is required. This gives NIC official three days to notify the dealer with a denial or approval. If within three days, the dealer does not hear from the NIC officials, the buyer can complete their sale. This is clearly a loophole in the system, and where many firearms can fall into the hands of ineligible buyers.

Since the NICS began, it has stopped more than seven hundred thousand gun sales to people who couldn’t legally buy a gun. Supporters say this number shows that background checks slow the flow of guns to people who shouldn’t have guns. Meanwhile, opponents of background checks argue that they’re only partly effective. They don’t prevent straw purchase- a transaction in which one person buys a firearm on another person’s behalf- and they don’t apply to transactions between individuals. Sometimes background checks prevent the wrong people from buying firearms.

A person who has the same name as a convicted felon, for example, may encounter difficulties. The information in the NICS database is entered manually. If someone enters data incorrectly, a dangerous criminal may slip through the cracks, or a dealer may wrongly deny a law-abiding citizen gun purchase. Some people also argue that background checks are an invasion of privacy. They say that Background checks have more flaws than than benefits.

There are just as many requirements, if not more, to be eligible to sell a firearm. Some of the requirements to receive a license to sell firearms are you must be at least 21 years of age and you must have not violated the Gun Control Acts or any of its regulations. These are only few of many. Applicants also must guarantee that the business is not prohibited by State or local law in the place where the licensed premises is located. The business must comply with the requirements of State and local law applicable to the conduct of the business within 30 days after the application is approved.

While it’s obvious that the United States government has tried to continuously work to change gun laws to protect the United States citizens, ending gun violence all together is nearly impossible. While gun laws have changed repeatedly throughout the years, the safety of the United States citizens has continued to be in danger ever since guns have been allowed in the United States, in 1619. ?What we can do is to look at gun sales through the lens of social economics’, explains John Wasik Forbes Magazine.

He then called for the establishment of market-based risk pricing, saying, Let’s agree that guns as weapons are inherently dangerous to society and owners should bear the risk and true social costs. This would mean that both owners and sellers of guns would be required to purchase liability insurance according to relative risk, whereby people who are more at risk for directly or indirectly causing gun violence would pay more for their insurance than people unlikely to cause this violence. Ideally, high-risk households would have to pay more and take more safety measures, so at-risk people wouldn’t have easy access to them. Responsible buyers would pay lower premiums for taking gun safety classes, and using gun locks and safes.

These premiums would be used to cover the costs associated with gun violence, giving relief to people injured in shootings and to the families of victims. This proves that there are people in our society that are willing to give their different ideas to stop gun violence. Since the twentieth century, there have been over twenty gun massacres in California alone. There have been over two hundred gun massacres in the United States. Because of this, citizens have a reason to fight for gun control, and a reason to stand up for their safety. There are ways we can alter gun rights without restricting the Second Amendment, we just have to use our voices and come together to find a better solution.

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