Gun Control Timeline
A Brief History of Firearms Regulation in America
When did this whole gun control debate start?
It could have started shortly after November 22, 1963 when evidence in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy increased public awareness to the relative lack of control over the sale and possession of firearms in America. Indeed, until 1968, handguns, rifles, shotguns, and ammunition were commonly sold over-the-counter and through mail-order catalogs and magazines to just about any adult anywhere in the nation.
However, America's history of regulating private ownership of firearms goes back much farther. In fact, all the way back to...
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The Bill of Rights, including the 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." gains final ratification.
Georgia passes a law banning handguns. The law is ruled unconstitutional and thrown out.
In a reaction to emancipation, several southern states adopt "black codes" which, among other things, forbid black persons from possessing firearms.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) is organized around its primary goal of improving American civilians' marksmanship in preparation for war.
Congress passes a law banning the mailing of concealable weapons.
The National Firearms Act of 1934 regulating only fully automatic firearms like sub-machine guns is approved by Congress.
The Federal Firearms Act of 1938 places the first limitations on selling ordinary firearms. Persons selling guns are required to obtain a Federal Firearms License, at an annual cost of $1, and to maintain records of the name and address of persons to whom firearms are sold. Gun sales to persons convicted of violent felonies were prohibited.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 - "...was enacted for the purpose of keeping firearms out of the hands of those not legally entitled to possess them because of age, criminal background, or incompetence." -- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms The Act regulates imported guns, expands the gun-dealer licensing and record keeping requirements, and places specific limitations on the sale of handguns. The list of persons banned from buying guns is expanded to include persons convicted of any non-business related felony, persons found to be mentally incompetent, and users of illegal drugs.
The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms is created listing as part of its mission the control of illegal use and sale of firearms and the enforcement of Federal firearms laws. ATF issues firearms licenses and conducts firearms licensee qualification and compliance inspections.
The District of Columbia enacts an anti-handgun law which also requires registration of all rifles and shotguns within the District of Columbia.
The Armed Career Criminal Act (Public Law 99-570) increases penalties for possession of firearms by persons not qualified to own them under the Gun Control Act of 1986.
The Firearms Owners Protection Act (Public Law 99-308) relaxes some restrictions on gun and ammunition sales and establishes mandatory penalties for use of firearms during the commission of a crime.
The Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act (Public Law 99-408) bans possession of "cop killer" bullets capable of penetrating bulletproof clothing.
California bans the possession of semiautomatic assault weapons following the massacre of five children on a Stockton, CA school playground.
The Crime Control Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-647) bans manufacturing and importing semiautomatic assault weapons in the U.S. "Gun-free school zones" are established carrying specific penalties for violations.
The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (Public Law 103-159) imposes a five-day waiting period on the purchase of a handgun and requires that local law enforcement agencies conduct background checks on purchasers of handguns. (ATF's Brady Law web site.)
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (Public Law 103-322) bans all sale, manufacture, importation, or possession of a number of specific types of assault weapons.
The Supreme Court, in the case of Printz v. United States, declares the background check requirement of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act unconstitutional.
The Florida Supreme Court upholds a jury's $11.5 million verdict against Kmart for selling a gun to and intoxicated man who used the gun to shoot his estranged girlfriend.
Major American gun manufacturers voluntarily agree to include child safety trigger devices on all new handguns.
1998 - June
A Justice Department report indicates the blocking of some 69,000 handgun sales during 1977 while Brady Bill pre-sale background checks were required.
1998 - July
An amendment requiring a trigger lock mechanism to be included with every handgun sold in the U.S. is defeated in the Senate.
But, the Senate approves an amendment requiring gun dealers to have trigger locks available for sale and creating federal grants for gun safety and education programs.
1998 - October
New Orleans, LA becomes the first US city to file suit against gun makers, firearms trade associations, and gun dealers. The city's suit seeks recovery of costs attributed to gun-related violence.
1998 - November 12
Chicago, IL files a $433 million suit against local gun dealers and makers alleging that oversupplying local markets provided guns to criminals.
1998 - November 17
A negligence suite against gun maker Beretta brought by the family of a 14-year old boy killed by an other boy with a Beretta handgun is dismissed by a California jury.
1998 - November 30
Permanent provisions of the Brady Act go into effect. Gun dealers are now required to initiate a pre-sale criminal background check of all gun buyers through the newly created National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) computer system.
1998 - December 1
The NRA files suit in federal court attempting to block the FBI's collection of information on firearm buyers.
1998 - December 5
President Clinton announces that the instant background check system had prevented 400 illegal gun purchases. The claim is called "misleading" by the NRA.
1999 - January
Civil suits against gun makers seeking to recover costs of gun-related violence are filed in Bridgeport, Connecticut and Miami-Dade County, Florida.
1999 - May 20
By a 51-50 vote, with the tie-breaker vote cast by Vice President Gore, the Senate passes a bill requiring trigger locks on all newly manufactured handguns and extending waiting period and background check requirements to sales of firearms at gun shows.
1999 - August 24
The Los Angeles County, CA Board of Supervisors votes 3 - 2 to ban the the Great Western Gun Show, billed as the "world's largest gun show" from the Pomona, CA fairgrounds where the show had been held for the last 30 years. (Typical Gun Show Rules& Regulations)