A History Of Gun Control Laws Shows US Citizens Don’t Have An Absolute Right To Bear Arms

The Second Amendment, which was added to the Constitution in 1791, gives everyone an inalienable right to bear arms, gun enthusiasts have argued.

But does that right allow people to walk around with assault weapons?

As we remember the 27 people killed during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and await an assault weapons ban bill, we decided to take a look at the history of gun control laws:

  • 1860s — Many southern states passed “Black Codes” around this time, which severely limited African-American southerners’ rights, including their right to own guns.
  • 1927 — Congress passed the Mailing of Firearms Act, also known as the Miller Act, which banned mailing concealable firearms.
  • 1934 — The National Firearms Act of 1934 taxed the manufacture and transfer of certain firearms specified in the act. It also taxed people who imported, manufactured, or dealt in firearms and required registration of all firearms. 
  • 1938 — The Federal Firearms Act of 1938 regulated interstate commerce in firearms and banned criminals from receiving or sending firearms in interstate or foreign commerce.
  • 1968 — The Gun Control Act of 1968, passed after the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, regulated gun ownership, defined who wasn’t allowed to own a gun (including felons), and barred anyone under 21 years old from buying a handgun.
  • 1976 — The Washington D.C. Council voted 12 to 1 in favour of a bill restricting residents’ access to handguns, the Washington Post reported in 2008. According to the vote, all firearms other than rifles and shotguns had to be kept unloaded and disassembled.  
  • 1986 — The Armed Career Criminal Act increased penalties for felons in possession of firearms. 
  • 1989 – California became the first state to pass a law restricting the use of assault rifles, which have a “high rate of fire and fire capacity.”
  • 1993 — The Brady Act imposed a waiting period of up to five days when buying a handgun and forced purchasers to undergo a background check. The bill was named for Jim Brady, the press secretary to Ronald Reagan who was seriously injured by John Hinckley Jr..
  • 1994 — Congress passed HR 4296, which made it illegal to own or transfer many semiautomatic weapons, which fire more quickly because they reload new rounds automatically.
  • 2004 — The 1994 assault weapons ban expired.
  • 2005 — The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was passed, which saved the gun industry from being held legally responsible if a crime was committed with its weapons.
  • 2010 — During President Barack Obama’s first term the federal government lifted restrictions on guns in national parks, The Washington Post reported at the time.

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