“If only we could take some “common sense” steps to regulate firearms and reduce gun violence,” they say. Well…
1791 – 2nd Amendment Ratified.
“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.” But what is the militia, much less a “well regulated” militia? Circa 1777 “militia” was defined as “the whole body of men declared by law amenable to military service, without enlistment, whether armed and drilled or not” [Century Dictionary]. The “militia” IS the citizenry and those who are armed and trained would be considered the “Well Regulated Militia”. You know, the well regulated militia that is “necessary to the security of a free State? So, what happened?
1934 – National Firearms Act (NFA)
FDR’s “New Deal for Crime“. Tax on the manufacturing, selling, and transporting of firearms like short-barrel shotguns and rifles, machine guns, firearm mufflers and silencers. Due to constitutional flaws, the NFA was modified several times. A $200 tax, a high tax for the time, was meant to curtail, not ban, the transfer of these weapons.
1938 – The Federal Firearms Act (FFA)
Required gun manufacturers, importers, and dealers to obtain a federal firearms license (FFLs). Defined a group of people as “prohibited possesors”, including convicted felons and mandated that gun sellers keep customer records.
1939 – U.S. v Miller Supreme Court ruling
Upheld the NFA, but also defined weapons protected by the 2nd Amendment as those used by the military and effective for use by a “well regulated militia.” Often cited as support for gun control, but never as support for the possession of “military grade” weapons.
1968 – Gun Control Act (GCA)
Repealed and replaced the FFA, keeping many of it’s provisions in place. Updated Title II of the NFA to “fix constitutional issues,” added language about “destructive devices” (such as bombs, mines and grenades) and expanded the definition of “machine gun.” Introduced the “sporting use” language and banned imports. Set age restrictions, required serial numbers on firearms and expanded “prohibited possessor” list.
1972 – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF/BATFE) Created
It’s roots go back to Prohibition “revenuers” under the IRS, the Alcohol Tax Unit (ATU), then in 1942, post NFA/FFA, responsibility for enforcing federal firearms laws was given to the ATU. Ultimately resulting in the creation of this independent department in 1972, post Kennedy assassination and GCA.
1986 – Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA)
Enacted some protections for gun owners — prohibiting a national gun registry, limiting ATF inspections to once per year (unless there are multiple infractions), allowing licensed dealers to sell firearms at “gun shows”. It also loosened regulations on the sale and transfer of ammunition. BUT, it also included gun control measures: the Hughes Amendment banned civilian ownership or transfer of “machine guns” made after May 19, 1986, and redefining “silencer” to include parts intended to make silencers.
1993 – Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (Brady Act)
Required background checks for gun purchases from a licensed dealer, manufacturer or importer. Established the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), maintained by the FBI.
1990/1994 – Gun Free Zone Act and Gun Free Schools Act
Disarming citizens in public places, BY LAW, making them defenseless in public.
1994 – 2004 – Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act (AWB, Assault Weapons Ban)
Banned the “manufacture, transfer, or possess a semiautomatic assault weapon,” unless it was “lawfully possessed under Federal law on the date of the enactment.” Nineteen “military-style” or “copy-cat” -“assault weapons”- including AR-15s, TEC-9s, MAC-10s, etc. could not be manufactured or sold. It also banned “certain high-capacity ammunition magazines of more than ten rounds.”
That’s just the Top Ten, there are an estimated 20,000 gun regulations on the books at the local, state and federal level nationwide.
States have experimented with several other forms of gun control, such as red flag laws (ERPOs, Extreme Risk Protective Orders), Universal Background Checks applied to private sales in addition to manufacturer and dealers sales, as well as state level “assault weapons” bans. Despite the fact that in addition to the 2nd Amendment, almost every state has an Arms Provision in their State Constitution that protects the right to keep and bear arms. All of these state experiments in gun control are currently being debated at the federal level.
After 143 years of unrestricted, unregulated gun ownership, between the ratification of the 2A and the passage of the NFA, we have seen 85 years of incremental infringement upon the supposedly “constitutionally protected” right to keep and bear Arms. From taxation and regulation to banning and prohibition, with more on the horizon. All proposed with the premise of public safety in mind, although none of the controls or proposed controls have delivered on their promises in that regard.
They have, on the other hand, delivered a significant shift in the balance of power between the people and their government. Shifting significant firepower into the hands of government agents, while denying it to the citizen. As if The People can no longer be trusted to self govern and government OF the people, BY the people, FOR the people must be protected FROM the people and be imposed ON the people by those rare intellectual and political leaders WE elect, who know what’s best for us.
Are we a free self governing people or have we become subjects of the ruling class once again?
Rest assured, the goal is NOT to come and take your guns. This is a war of attrition. The goal is to turn Americans against buying guns in the first place. If We The People just allow our right to keep and bear Arms to whither away, then there will be no need to kick in doors and confiscate.