History of The Gun Control Issue in America


by David Speer


Several events brought the issue of gun control in America to the forefront. Many controversies throughout the 20th century, surround its history. There is much ongoing debate about this issue. There were also occasional legislative actions in response to gun violence.

The National Firearms Act
In 1934, the National Firearms Act was passed. It was a federal law that required the registration of firearms. The law regulates the manufacture, transfer, and possession of certain types of firearms. These firearms include among others:

  • Machine guns
  • Short-barreled rifles
  • Shotguns
  • Suppressors
  • Destructive devices
  • Bombs
  • Grenades

The Prohibition era saw an increase in gang-related violence. To stop criminals from using harmful weapons, Congress passed The National Firearms Act. The Act was controversial at the time of passing and remains so to a certain extent. Although it has been legally challenged, The Act is still in effect, shaping the conversation on gun violence and control.
The Act has been hotly contested and debated for decades in America. Both parties of the debate advocate for their stands. Supporters of the Act reckon that it is indispensable for gun violence prevention. Many individuals opt to express their opinions about this issue by publishing essays against gun control, highlighting that the Act is way out of proportion in restricting firearms. But to fully understand all the nuances of the issue, you need to comprehend what the Act entails. Luckily, there are several free examples of articles and essays available online that can explain it all. Also, certain official government websites explain the NFA in detail if you wish to learn it in depth.
The Gun Control Act
The Gun Control Act was passed by the US Congress, in 1968. It established stricter regulations in dealing with and selling firearms to certain people in America. This was in direct response to the unfortunate assassinations of Senator Robert Kennedy, President John F. Kennedy, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
This piece of legislation has been fiercely debated for many decades. A crucial aspect of the Act is the mandatory background check required to obtain a firearm license. The Act mandates that firearm purchasers must undergo a check of criminal history background.
This topic is an interesting one for a student who is looking for a research paper subject as it marks a turning point in firearms regulation in America. The Act established stringent measures and regulations on the usage, dealing, and sale of firearms. This Act significantly changed the way the American public bought and owned firearms. Opinions about the Act differ. But it remains a complex and relevant issue.
The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act
The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act is also popularly known as the Brady Bill. It was created in 1993 in the tragic aftermath of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. The law requires background checks on individuals purchasing firearms from federally licensed dealers.

  1. The rigorous background checks on individuals include the following:
  2. A review of criminal history records
  3. A search through relevant mental health records
  4. People with certain criminal convictions
  5. Those who pose a danger

In recent decades, the gun control debate has become contentious, but Brady Bill continues to help prevent gun violence. It has played a large role in preventing countless harmful individuals from getting their hands on firearms. But the law has been subject to opposition from advocates who believe in the right to carry arms.
This legislation has managed to reduce gun-related injuries and deaths. And it continues to play a part in the reduction of gun violence on college campuses and school playgrounds. It instills a sense of security in the mind of a student who abides by the law. The Act has been a crucial factor in keeping students safe from violence ever since its implementation.
The Assault Weapons Ban
The Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 has been a widely discussed topic in recent years, especially among those who are passionate about gun control. It banned the manufacture, sale, and possession of certain types of semi-automatic weapons. The assault weapons that are restricted based on their features are:

  • Detachable magazines
  • Pistol grips
  • AK-47
  • AR-15
  • Semiautomatic rifles
  • Shotguns
  • Weapons with military features

While some argue that these weapons are necessary for self-defense or hunting, others believe that their use in mass shootings outweighs any potential benefits. Politicians and advocates on both sides continue to push their agendas. So, the debate surrounding the Assault Weapons Ban is sure to continue.
The Second Amendment Rights
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to bear arms, was adopted in 1791. Since then, it has been a cornerstone of American law. But what it entails and how various factions interpret it has been a constant source of debate.
People who have been victimized by gun violence are of the opinion that gun ownership should be regulated, and its usage should be restricted. Others say that it is their constitutional right to bear arms as stipulated by the Second Amendment Rights. This remains an impasse.
In recent history, there have been many mass shootings. The Sandy Hook incident and the Parkland high school are worth mentioning here. Similarly, the mass shooting violence that occurred at the Pulse nightclub is also one that shook the nation.
Such unfortunate incidents have prompted the authorities to put in more stringent measures to prevent any recurrences. The gun control issue will remain to be a contentious issue in America, regardless of what one thinks about it. And it will remain so for a long time to come.
The recent cases


The first significant case from the recent past is the District of Columbia v. Heller (2008). The Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes. An example of this is self-defense within the home. The Court struck down provisions of the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975. The court felt that it infringed on an individual’s right to bear arms.

McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010) is another important case. The Supreme Court held that the right of an individual to keep and bear arms is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment against the states. This means that state and local governments are also bound by the Second Amendment.

These two cases have had a big impact on gun control laws in the United States. The laws establish that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess firearms for self-defense. This includes both within and outside of the home.

The most recent Supreme Court ruling that limited gun control was the 6-3 decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. It struck down a type of gun carry restriction embraced by only six states.

This new standard will change the legal playing field around gun laws. This has made all sorts of regulations all across the country vulnerable to new legal challenges. Virtually any other type of gun regulation will now be viewed by courts in a harsher light. This includes:

  • age-based regulations
  • restrictions on certain types of firearms
  • and limits on high-capacity magazines


In another recent case, a federal appeals court ruled that the U.S. government cannot ban people convicted of non-violent crimes from possessing guns. This ruling comes from a 2020 lawsuit by Bryan Range. He was barred under federal law from possessing a gun after pleading guilty to welfare fraud. He claimed that the prohibition violated his right to bear arms under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The gun control issue in America is a source of contention and fierce debate that has persisted for a long time throughout the history of the country. Opinions are deeply divided. The path forward for an amicable solution looks murky. While some argue for stringent legislation and sweeping reforms, others debate that such measures go against the grain of constitutional rights. The issue is complex and cannot be distilled easily. So, the dilemma of addressing the issue in an effective and equitable way would remain thorny.