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Hot Topic: Gun Rights & Gun Control

This guide explores and provides a starting point for your research on Gun Rights and Gun Control

ProQuest Supreme Court Insights


Federal Laws

United States Code Title 18, Chapter 44:

Text of Chapter 44--Firearms of the United States Code, Title 18 - Crimes and Criminal Procedure.


Historical Codes:

National Firearms Act ( 1934 ): In response to violent organized crime, Congress passes this act to tax the sale of certain weapons. These weapons included handguns, short-barreled rifles and automatic weapons.

National Firearms Act  ( 1938 ): This act banned the sale of firearms to convicted felons and fugitives. Also, it barred unlicensed dealers from selling guns across state lines.

Gun Control Act ( 1968 ): The act was a response to violent urban upset and political assassinations. This act created the Bureau of Alchol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ( ATF )

 Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act ( 1985 ) : This act banned the sale of armor-piercing ammunition except for government use.

Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act ( 1993 ): The act  required a waiting period to purchase guns from licensed gun dealers. This act expired in 1998. However, the FBI set up a background check system. (H.R.1025 — 103rd Congress (1993-1994) )

Federal Assault Weapons Ban ( 1994 ): In response to the school shooting at Columbine, this act banned the sale of assault weapons. However, this ban expired in 2004.


Second Amendment and Supreme Court Decisions

Second Amendment:

"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. On December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the Constitution) was adopted, having been ratified by three-fourths of the states."

United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 (1875)

This was an important United States Supreme Court decision in United States constitutional law, one of the earliest to deal with the application of the Bill of Rights to state governments following the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment. This case ruled that the Second Amendment did not oblidge the state of Louisiana to allow lynching victims to defend themselves with guns.  Although significant portions of Cruikshank have been overturned (either explicitly or by implication) by later decisions, most notably the 5–4 District of Columbia v. Heller ruling in 2008, it is still relied upon with some authority in other portions. Read more about this case by reading more about the Colfax massacre.

 United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939)

Only weapons that have a reasonable relationship to the effectiveness of a well-regulated militia under the Second Amendment are free from government regulation. The court ruled that a short-barreled shotgun was of no military use and that the government could therefore legally ban such a weapon.

Verdugo-Urgquidez v. United States (1990)

The court ruled that private individuals have the right to keep and bear arms.

District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008)

The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.

 S Parker v. District of Columbia  478 F.3d 370 (D.C. App. 2007).S

Supreme court held that individuals have a right under the Second Amendment to own handguns for their own personal protection and keep them in their home without placing a trigger lock on them.  This is the first decision since the Supreme Court decided Miller in which a federal court overturned a law regulating firearms based on the Second Amendment.

McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010)

The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment extends the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms to the states, at least for traditional, lawful purposes such as self-defense.