“Gun control is like trying to solve drunk driving by making it harder for sober people to own cars.”(jerrybob). In its history, guns were created for the sole purpose of killing whether for war, hunting, or settling petty differences, they were tools designed to kill and that being so restrictions have been placed upon them to protect the public from use of guns by the minority of the public that would seek to destroy itself or others. 1968 was the first true instance of any gun laws being put into effect as weapons of war such as machine guns and high power weapons have no or very little place in the hands of those who are not at war or in a similar situation. These laws, although not as thorough as they would be now days, covered a vast majority of gun ownership, buyers rights, legality of weapon handling, and sellers responsibilities, and at the very least created a foundation to what we have today, starting up an idea of a background check. With these laws however came a backlash, as the laws were vague, they were easily bypassed by people who sought to sell these weapons without punishment for doing so, and thus the gun show loophole was born. Since a gun show is mostly not regulated by the federal government it does not have to abide by state required background checks meaning anyone can buy or own any weapon. In some cases the laws that were put in place to lower the crime rates in some cities and states backfired, increasing it as a result. Such was the case of Chicago, Illinois, from 1983 to 2010. If a law is put in place on one area of the country then it should be put in place in all of the country, however if that same law is oppressing the people it was meant to protect then it should be removed or changed to benefit all.
The Gun Control Act of 1968 was a set of laws passed by the US Senate in 1968 to set up the allowance for the American people to uphold their right to bear arms, however with restrictions to deter improper use, sale, ownership, or registration of the weapons, as well as restrictions on what weapons were outright banned due to the potential to destruction that they can cause, such as explosives and artillery. The act itself goes into great detail on many of its subjects such as who can sell the weapons,“It shall be unlawful- for any person- except a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer, to engage in the business of importing, manufacturing, or dealing in firearms, or in the course of such business to ship, transport, or receive any firearm in interstate or foreign commerce;” (The Gun Control Act of 1968). This means in order to sell a firearm the seller must have a license to sell that particular firearm in the particular part of the process that they are in. It also talks about the process of submitting illegal weapons to local authorities,“the transferee submits to the transferor a sworn statement in the following form:”Subject to penalties provided by law, I swear that, in the case of any firearm other than a shotgun or a rifle, I am twenty-one years or more of age, or that, in the case of a shotgun or a rifle, I am eighteen years or more of age; that I am not prohibited by the provisions of chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, from receiving a firearm in interstate or foreign commerce; and that my receipt of this firearm will not be in violation of any statute of the State and published ordinance applicable to the locality in which I reside…””(The Gun Control Act of 1968). This being the form you must sign if an illegal weapon is found in your possession to the police and you had not been informed of its illegality. Now as a basis for laws to be made this is a great start and was even improved upon during the Clinton Presidency with a ban on imported guns and assault rifle sales and heavy restrictions on ownership. This did not last long as Congress did not renew the ban in 2004 and it has stayed that way ever since.
Certain people are not allowed to buy or own guns and those people are known as the prohibited. These people are,“ Those who have been convicted of violent or gun-related misdemeanors. Those with a history of abusing alcohol or drugs. Those convicted of juvenile offenses. Additional people who have suffered from severe mental illness.”(Gilfords Law Center). This was decided by the gun control act of 1968 and has remained in effect ever since, with few exceptions to these laws being made. Although it was a little bit more elaborate in the original text it basically says this and for the most part it makes sense as people who commit crimes are usually in one or more of these categories and this goes for any place of business that sells firearms of any caliber. However there is one area that in most states remains unregulated due to sheer misinterpretation of Federal law.
Gun shows are a way for private gun owners to purchase and sell near any firearm that fits within state guidelines and can be a source of business for individuals that work seasonally selling weapons bought throughout the year or years. The problem that has arisen from this is that due to the private exchange of weapons, ammunition, and attachments they are not as regulated as gun stores are because many times these are just tables or booths set up in open tents, warehouses, or open areas where going through the processes would take days as hundreds of gun buyers and onlookers view them all. So instead of having the 30 day period in between buying a gun and owning it, they can have it the same day without a background check. This is known as the gun show loophole, “…most states do not require background checks for firearms purchased at gun shows from private individuals — federal law only requires licensed dealers to conduct checks.Under the Gun Control Act of 1968, federal law clearly defined private sellers as anyone who sold no more than four firearms per year. But the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act lifted that restriction and loosely defined private sellers as people who do not rely on gun sales as the principal way of obtaining their livelihood.” (Governing: The States and Localities). Because of this loose definition, many guns are sold to people who are criminally or mentally unfit or unstable, breaking Federal law without receiving repercussions. With only a handful of states actively monitoring gun shows with regulated background checks, such as California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and New York, it is a huge loophole that has yet to be even relatively sealed in the United States.
One of the largest problems facing gun owners to this day is the fear of losing the right to bear arms, and in one such case this happened, resulting in crime becoming bigger than it had been previously. Chicago is a city in Illinois that has always been a center for petty crime and homicides to take place and at the center of it all seemed to be handguns. With their mobility, fast fire rate, and the ease with which they can be discarded made them the perfect weapon type for quick crime to be committed. Because of this, in 1982, the city council banned most handguns within the limits of the city to decrease the homicide rate within the city. “The law also prohibited the registration of most types of handguns, effectively banning nearly all possession for private residents of the city.”(Neito) 28 years later in 2010, a man named Otis McDonald filed suit in the US District Court saying that the law had done nothing to protect the citizens instead limiting the protection that people had.(Nieto). The reason this law was ineffective was and is because people who commit crime are not afraid of getting caught. If you illegalize something, people that ignore the law such as criminals, will still ignore the law, and if you illegalize a protective weapon, like the handgun, in a city with the highest crime rate in america with the intent to protect the people crime rate will be on the rise and doubled now that there are fewer consequences to breaking and entering. As well as a rise of weapons trafficking or, selling of contra banned weapons, allowing unregistered guns to make their way into the city into the hands of gang members because of an unregistered market of gun traffickers. As seen here, “Finally, another important transaction characteristic is whether a gun sale occurs in a regulated or unregulated market. As discussed earlier, the secondary market in firearms is largely unregulated and thus serves as the predominant source of guns for offenders. In places where the secondary market is regulated, however, risks associated with these transactions might be reduced, depending on the rigor of enforcement mechanisms.”(Koper). As the enforcement would be high due to the law transactions would be lessened but prices would be low increasing as more guns were to be brought into the city. Though the US District Court dismissed the suits an appellate court of the seventh circuit appealed to the case and it was sent to the supreme court where, “In its decision, the Court correctly concluded that “individual self‐defense is ‘the central component’ of the Second Amendment right” to keep and bear arms.”(Neito). Chicago ended up with the right to own handguns yet again and as such unless guns serve no protective purpose they cannot be banned. Being that this is the other end of the spectrum it does not look good that outright banning a weapon causes a crime surge in a place where it is supposed to do good.
In the end this loophole is not the easiest to fix, for on the one hand you can have an open trade with firearms anywhere in the state selling weapons to any unregistered person you see fit, on the other hand you have the illegality of a weapon as protection resulting in illegal trade of it through completely unregulated sources. An increase in government regulation of background checks within gun shows would be a great solution to the problem of people unfit to own guns buying them as it would mean people would have to be good citizens to even think of owning guns, since part of the federal regulations states certain people cannot buy firearms from anyone. It would prove difficult as gun shows are not the most formal and “Private gun sales persons” do not have to abide by the same rules that a store owner would but it would be a good way to make sure that a gun goes into the right hands. The biggest problem that this solution faces is the fact that forty-odd states do not support background checks at gun shows because it impedes on the second amendment, which in a way is not necessarily wrong as the background check does take the right to buy and own a firearm away from a good portion of the population, however with good reason, making it all the more difficult to implement it in these states. The last time a state closed this loophole was in Colorado in 2000, Bill Clinton said this at the time about it,“ I commend the citizens of Colorado who took an important step today toward reducing gun violence by submitting nearly twice the number of signatures needed to place an initiative on the State ballot to close the gun show loophole. Colorado voters can now do what Congress has failed to do: close a deadly loophole that allows criminals, juveniles, and other restricted persons to buy guns at gun shows with no questions asked.”(Clinton). This shows it has been implemented before in states but it would take the convincing of the public to finally end this loophole. If a person wishes to own a gun, for whatever means they wish it to be for, they should be able to pass the test that is nearly fifty years old without any reasonable doubt before they receive their weapon designed specifically to kill.
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