Congress has enacted several laws concerning firearms. The National Firearms Act of 1934 regulated sale and ownership of guns known as NFA firearms, which include machine guns, short barreled rifles, short barreled shotguns, and silencers. The act imposed a tax on the manufacture and sale of these firearms and required owners to register them. In 1968 the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act banned the interstate trade in handguns, increased the minimum age for handgun purchase to twenty-one years, and established a national gun-licensing system. The Gun Control Act of 1968 established further restrictions on interstate commerce in firearms. In addition it prohibited firearms possession for felons, drug abusers, undocumented aliens, and persons who had been dishonorably discharged from the military, were subject to a restraining order, had renounced their U.S. citizenship, or who had been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor.
Responding to pressure from the gun lobby, Congress enacted the Firearm Owners’ Protection Act (FOPA) in 1986 to address owners’ concerns that federal agents had abused their rights in enforcing the Gun Control Act. FOPA allowed interstate commerce of some kinds of guns and eased several other restrictions. But it included the Hughes Amendment, which banned the sale of machine guns to civilians. The first law requiring federal background checks on gun buyers came in 1993 with passage of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act—a law that had been vigorously opposed by the National Rifle Association (NRA). In fact the NRA convinced Congress to change its initial requirement of a five-day waiting period before a person could buy a gun. Instead, the law as enacted requires an instant background check by computer. According to FBI statistics, the background check imposed by the Brady Bill has resulted in the blocking of some 1.8 million firearm purchases. Of these, 56 percent were denied to felons.
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 included the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB), which forbids the sale of semi-automatic weapons, known as “assault weapons,” to civilians. The AWB expired on September 13, 2004. Since then, two bills have been proposed to reinstate it, but without success.
In addition the individual states have enacted gun laws. These vary considerably. Some states ban concealed weapons entirely; Vermont, by contrast, does not even require a permit for a person to carry a gun, openly or concealed.Topic\Document
Overview - Right to Bear Arms
Right to Bear Arms Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, 2013
The right to bear arms is enshrined in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment 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.” Many argue that the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to own guns, and that the government should not restrict this right. Others say that the amendment was meant to apply to states’ rights, rather than individual rights. They argue that gun ownership in the United States contributes to high levels of violent crime and say that the framers of the Constitution did not intend to…