To the editor:
Gun control in America has become a glaring issue in light of a continuing display of deadly violence against innocents. The evolution of our laws is testimony to a protracted, laborious and conflicted process that has failed to protect us.
Here is a brief summary:
The 1934 National Firearms Act was a revenue act that imposed taxes on the manufacturing, importing and transferring of firearms. The goal was to curtail the proliferation of firearms, especially those used in crimes.
In 1968, Title II of the Gun Control Act was enacted, in part, as part of a broader response to the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King. It provided a public policy framework to prohibit gun sales to felons and other prohibited persons, established guidelines for lawful transactions through licensing provisions and federal regulatory authority.
The 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act prohibited the transfer of machine guns and amended the Firearms Act to include silencers. Interestingly, in December 2018, Attorney General Matthew Whittaker announced the Department of Justice declared that bump stocks were a form of machine gun.
The 1996 Lautenberg Amendment provided a regulatory framework that outlawed the dissemination of firearms to individuals who committed domestic violence misdemeanors.
The 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, amended the Gun Control Act by imposing a five-day waiting period on a licensed gun dealer (manufacturer, dealer, importer) prior to transferring a gun to an unlicensed person.
Relative to handguns, this was an interim requirement that remained in effect only until 1998 and in states without an alternate system for background checks. There are permanent components that address this restrictions on other forms of firearms (i.e. rifles).
In 1994, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban ( AWB) – a subsection of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act imposed new prohibitions on semiautomatic weapons, assault rifles and large-capacity magazines. This ban was effective for 10 years only and it expired in September 2004.
All of these legislative forays provide a mosaic of a nation struggling to reconcile the lawful owning of guns by law-abiding citizens as bracketed by the Second Amendment versus the scourge of the criminal proliferation of guns. But the struggle must continue and the evolution of gun control must accelerate to include inevitable measures.
Such measures include comprehensive background checks, and banning through the reauthorization of the AWB of semiautomatic weapons, assault rifles and large-capacity magazines.
There must be a range of additional prohibitions for transferring firearms at gun shows.
The discussion about mental health is a completely separate track to address the scourge of gun violence.
It is a valid one.
But by the time we have measures in place to comprehensively address mental health in ways to reduce gun violence, tragic incidents will continue unabated.
A bruised nation and an incredulous world await action from our national leaders. During the quiescence is the perfect insertion point for thoughts and prayers ... .