Once upon a time, until about 1968, you could pretty much buy any gun you might, with handguns, rifles, shotguns, and ammunition regularly sold over-the-counter and through mail-order and magazines to just about anyone anywhere in the country.
One might think there was never law pertaining to guns until then. But of course, that would be wrong as it goes back to 1791.
Here are just a few of the highlights.
1791 – The most important event, the ratification of the Second Amendment which 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.”
1837 – Georgia passed a law trying to ban handguns. SCOTUS threw out the law saying it was unconstitutional thus confirming the individuals right to possess a gun.
1938 – The Federal Firearms Act of 1938 incorporates the first limitations on selling ordinary firearms, requiring that people who sell guns have a Federal Firearms License and maintain records as to who buys the guns. People who are convicted of violent felonies are forbidden from buying a gun.
1968 – People banned from buying guns is expanded to people convicted of other non-business felonies, people found to be mentally incompetent, and illegal drug users.
1977 – Washington, D.C. requires registration of all rifles and shotguns.
1989 – After a shooting at a school which kills five children, California bans semi-automatic ‘assault weapons.’
1990 – Gun-free school zones are established.
1994 – Brady Act establishes waiting period and background checks employed by local law enforcement. Also ‘assault weapons’ are banned, but it expires in 2004.
1998 – Permanent Brady provisions go into effect, requiring criminals background check through National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS).
2008 – In District of Columbia v. Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Second Amendment rights of individuals to own firearms. The ruling also overturned a 32-year old ban on the sale or possession of handguns in the District of Columbia.
But since 2008, despite the finding Democrats have continued to try to re-enact the ‘assault weapons ban.’ Sen. Dianne Feinstein just introduced another effort this past week in which ordinary rifles such as the AR-15 would be banned. It has 22 signatories already.
With the current balance in Congress, it isn’t likely to pass. But if that changes, if the Republicans lose more seats in 2018, it could have more of a chance to pass.
[Note: This post was written by Nick Arama.]