A Layman's short History of Gun Control in America
by Ed Apple
Most people think that gun control is a recent phenomenon in America, and in a way, they're right.
However, if you've read your American history, you'll know that the Revolutionary War was sparked off by…Tada: An act of gun control!
That's right, just why did the British General Thomas Gage dispatch Major John Pitcairn to Concord on the night of April 18, 1775? To seize powder, shot, and arms. On the morning of April the 19th, 50 to 60 militiamen met them at Lexington.
He sure wasn't going there for a picnic or a tea party. Big mistake; he and his men were shot at all the way back to Boston. He started out with about one thousand men, but before he got back to Boston he had lost 273 men.
This should tell anyone with the brains of a gnat what our forefathers thought of gun control; they were willing to start a war with the mightiest nation in the world at the time over this and other issues.
In 1813, Kentucky enacted the first carrying concealed weapon statute in the United States. The Kentucky Court of Appeals struck down the law in 1822 as a violation of the state constitutional protection of the right to keep and bear arms.
In 1837, Georgia completely banned the sale of pistols, with the exception of larger pistols known and used as "horsemen's pistols" and other weapons. The Georgia State Supreme Court overturned this law in Nunn V. State (1846).
Indiana, Alabama and Arkansas all had concealed carry laws in the early to mid 1800's.
Before the Civil War, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the privileges of citizenship included the individual right to own and carry firearms.
The Dred Scott case did much to bring about the Civil War:
"It would give to persons of the negro race, who are recognized as citizens in any one state of the Union, the right to enter every other state, whenever they pleased.... and it would give them full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might meet; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went."
This led to the Fourteenth Amendment:
Section 1: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Most of the reconstruction in the Southern States hinged upon the creation of black militias, which was composed of armed, freed blacks, officered in large part by black veterans of the Union Army.
In the months after the Civil War, what was left of the southern governments struck at these units with the enactment of what was called black codes, which outlawed gun ownership by blacks entirely, or imposed permit systems for them, and provided for the confiscation of firearms owned by blacks.
(Source: Report of The Subcommittee On The Constitution Of The Committee On The Judiciary, United States Senate Ninety-Seventh Congress Second Session February 1982.)
Some of the "cow towns" of the old west, such as Wichita and Dodge City, also had their own versions of gun control; the "dead-line." Cross that line carrying a gun and you could wind up dead.
It was a "reasonable" reaction to groups of young men, sometimes no more than boys, who, after spending months of sleeping on the ground, eating lousy food, doing hard work, with low pay, no women, little sleep, and hours of sitting in a saddle on a horse who tried every morning to disembark them, tended to want to party, and in a serious way.
As we all know, if you combine young men with booze/drugs and guns, sometimes someone ends up with up with more holes in their bodies than the good Lord intended.
A prime example of this can still be found in Bodie California, just north of Mono Lake, a silver mining town of the old west. The bar and ceiling of the saloon still show the holes put there by miners, gamblers, and gun fighters.
At the same time, burglary and rape were almost unheard of in the old west. A man trying to rape a woman in an alley was apt to find him-self staring down the gun barrels of the townsmen.
The shoot-out at the OK corral took place because the Earp brothers, along with John "Doc" Holliday, wanted to disarm the Clanton gang.
In 1911 New York City passed the Sullivan Act.
The 1920's and 1930's saw many states imposing "A Uniform Act to Regulate the Sale and Possession of
Firearms," which prohibited unlicensed carrying and possession.
The National Firearms Act was imposed in 1934; it required a $200 tax on each fully automatic firearm or silencer. Over the years, the tax was also applied to short-barreled rifles and shotguns, and a few other classes of weapons."
The Federal Firearms Act of 1938 began the firearm dealer licensing system.
The FFA was expanded into its present form by the
Gun Control Act of
1968, which included prohibitions on mail order firearm sales, sales between residents of different states, recordkeeping on ammunition that can be used in a handgun, and prohibition of importation of firearms not considered "sporting" by the Treasury Department (BATF).
Almost all the major gun control laws were passed under a Democrat controlled Senate/House or Presidency. They were in control of the White House from 1933 to 1953: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman. (Source: World Book Encyclopedia)
The assassinations of JFK, Bobby Kennedy, and the Reverend Martin Luther King were the prime motivations behind the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968.
In the 1980s, the federal ammo record-keeping requirement was rescinded, and sales of long guns by a dealer in one state to a purchaser from another state were decriminalized. The manufacturing of armor-piercing ammo capable of being used in a handgun was outlawed. Firearms capable of being sneaked through airport security systems were also prohibited.
1989 saw President Bush directing the BATF to restrict the importation of various semi-auto-only service rifles under the "sporting" test. Ex-President Clinton further restricted those firearms by the same method in 1994 and 1998. He prohibited the importation of firearms from communist China in 1993.
1994: the Brady Act and federal "assault weapons" law took effect. Brady began the background check requirement on retail handgun sales nationwide, even though one-third of the states already had a similar law.
In 1998 it imposed the national Instant Check on all retail firearm sales. The "assault weapons" law prohibited manufacturing semi-auto, detachable magazine rifles with various things attached and prohibited the manufacture of magazines holding more than 10 rounds.
The 1990s saw the categories of people prohibited from possessing firearms expanded. The Gun Free School Zones Act was passed. It was struck down by the Supreme Court, then re-passed with modified language. The minimum age for possessing a handgun was set at 18.
Each state has its own set of laws; California (1989), New Jersey (1990), Maryland, Hawaii and a few other states have passed laws on "assault weapons" or "assault pistols". South Carolina, Minnesota, Illinois and Maryland prohibit handguns made of pot metals. (Source: NRA-ILA)
In states like California, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by almost two to one, 26 to 14 in the Senate and 52 to 27 in the Assembly, bad gun laws are the norm, or at the least should be expected.
Today's anti-gun-self defense-Constitution-freedom people like to point out that there are more guns in America than there were a hundred thirty years ago, and they're right.
There are also more people in America today than there were a hundred thirty years ago. The percentage of the criminal element has risen, along with the rest of the population, while the percentage of law-abiding townsfolk who are walking around armed has dropped to virtually zero.
Try getting a concealed carry permit from L. A. County sheriff Lee Baca. Unless you're a movie-TV star, producer, or some other kind of "somebody," your chances are about as good as a snowball's chance in you-know-where.
There are a few modern examples of gun control that have proven more practical than their historical counterparts.
For instance, long time viewers of TV shows like "Cops" might remember two mental midgets who saw an ad in the local newspaper about a swap meet. They got the bright idea that they'd grab their guns, go to the hall where the swap meet was being held, and pull off a stick-up.
The meet was being held at a city owned building, which was covered by security cameras. As the camera rotated back and forth, you can see these two simpletons get out of their car, run into the building carrying their guns, and come running back out, minus the guns.
As the camera swung around, the banner over the front doors advertising the meet came into view: "Gun show-swap meet this weekend" or some such thing. I wonder what went through their dumb-as-a-stump minds when they saw table after table of…guns, and people with guns?
It'd be kind of interesting to know what the people inside the swap meet thought, too.
Imagine their faces as they yelled, "Stick 'em up!?"
Now, this is what I call a prime example of gun control: both those imbeciles got out of the building alive.
I have to wonder though, if they took a class in remedial reading while they were in jail after getting caught some time later.
I'd like to thank David Codrea for all of his help, and Mark Overstreet, of the ILA Research Division for some of the information in this article.