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Gun Control Act of 1968 Research Paper

Pages:7 (2011 words)



Topic:Gun Control Laws

Document Type:Research Paper


Re-Assessing the Effectiveness of the Country’s Gun Laws

America’s Gun Laws Are they Effective


Signed into law on the 22nd of Oct, 1968, the Gun Control Act of 1968 is largely considered to be the very first significant attempt at controlling not only interstate firearms commerce, but also firearm ownership. Prior to this particular legislation, there had been other gun-control laws passed. These included but they were not limited to the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Federal Firearms Act of 1938. These laws did not, however, sufficiently put in place a mechanism for the effective regulation of firearm owners and the firearm industry. However, with the assassination of both Martin Luther King and President J.F. Kennedy, there was a clear need for an interventionist measure in the gun politics realm. Today, gun control remains a rather divisive issue in our nation’s politics. Thanks to an escalation in mass shooting incidences, it may be time to re-assess the effectiveness of our gun-control laws. Stricter gun control laws should be enacted.


It is important to note, from the onset, that both opponents and proponents of gun control point out that their position is firmly rooted in the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. As a matter of fact, while those in support of stricter laws are of the opinion that the framers of the Constitution had militias in mind in as far as the Second Amendment is concerned, there are those who are convinced that owning guns is an inalienable constitutional right. With regard to the latter perspective, Hayes (2016) points out that gun ownership is considered to be a longstanding tradition of the American society and one that has the backing of the U.S. Constitution. It therefore follows that having in place gun control laws that are inherently restrictive would be going against not only the very fabric of the society, but also against the supreme law of the land. As per 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” (Hayes, 2016, p. 33). There have been several court rulings that appear to reinforce or entrench this perspective. The said rulings include, but they are not limited to McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010) (Johnson, Kopel, and Mocsary, 2017). On the other hand, proponents of stricter gun control laws often cite the U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion in District of Columbia et al. v. Heller (2008) in an attempt to advance their position that unlimited rights to gun ownership have no basis in as far as the Second Amendment is concerned. In the said ruling, Justice Antonin Scalia pointed out that:

Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited… nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. (Cole, Smith, and DeJong, 2016, p. 105).

In seeking to assess the need for stricter gun control laws, it would also be prudent to assess whether gun policy in the U.S. is cognizant of the need for robust checks and balances. There is the perspective that stricter gun control laws and regulations are likely to advance to the government too much power which in turn could occasion wanton human rights abuses and tyranny. Further, some are afraid that such a move would place citizens at the mercy of thugs and other outlaws. According to Cole, Smith, and DeJong (2016), micro-stamping as well as background checks have also been opposed in some quarters and branded an affront on the right to privacy. However, there is also the perspective that loose gun control laws have wreaked havoc in our society…

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…own a gun, for example, were much more likely than GOP gun owners to favor banning assault-style weapons (65% vs. 31%) and high-capacity magazines (63% vs. 35%)” (Gramlich and Schaeffer, 2019). These perspectives routinely pronounce themselves in the electoral process. To a large extent, pro-gun voters appear to be convinced that one of the most effective ways of protecting and promoting their gun rights is via the ballot. Hence, they are likely to apportion greater weight to gun ownership rights in political decisions. The impact pro-gun organizations like the NRA have in as far as the general election process is concerned cannot also be overstated. This is more so the case given their tendency to make hefty contributions to their politicians of choice. All these factors come together to frustrate efforts for stricter gun control laws. Policy think tanks should come up with proposals meant to tame this phenomenon. Also, the role of the media should be prominent in this case – i.e. when it comes to shining the spotlight on lawmakers who place their re-election motives before the interests of the electorate. As a matter of fact, it has been argued that “re-election motives can lead politicians to take a pro-gun stance against the interests of an apathetic majority of the electorate” (Bouton, Conconi, Pino and Zanardi, 2014).


In the final analysis, it should be noted that gun laws should be made stricter in an attempt to safeguard public safety and wellbeing. This is more so the case given the spike in mass shootings that have been witnessed in recent times. We must come to terms with the fact that gun violence is wreaking havoc right across our nation. Gun violence is preventable – it is not inevitable. Stakeholders ought to work together to minimize chances of mass shootings. The role of the media is especially important given its ability and duty to inform and educate. Stricter gun control laws do not necessarily amount to taking away gun-owner tights. They simply…

Sample Source(s) Used


Ausman, J.I. & Faria, M.A. (2019). Is Gun Control Really About People Control? Surgical Neurology International, 10(6), 195-204.

Bouton, L., Conconi, P., Pino, F. & Zanardi, M. (2014). Guns and Votes. Retrieved from

Cole, G.F., Smith, C.E. & DeJong, C. (2016). Criminal Justice in America (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

Gramlich, J. & Schaeffer, K. (2019). 7 facts about guns in the U.S. Retrieved from

Hayes, V. (2016). Gun Control in the United States. Journal of Political Sciences & Public Affairs, 4(2), 33-39.

Johnson, N.J., Kopel, D.B. & Mocsary, G.A. (2017). Firearms Law and the Second Amendment: Regulation, Rights, and Policy. New York, NY: Wolters Kluwer Law & Business.

Joslyn, M., Haider-Markel, D., Baggs, M. & Bilbo, A. (2017). Emerging Political Identities? Gun Ownership and Voting in Presidential Elections. Social Science Quarterly, 98(2), 382-396.

Webster, D.W. & Wintemute, G.J. (2015). Effects of Policies Designed to Keep Firearms from High-Risk Individuals. Annual Review of Public Health, 36, 21-37.

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