Donald Trump once said:
“I have embraced crying mothers who have lost their children because our politicians put their personal agendas before the national good. I have no patience for injustice, no tolerance for government incompetence, no sympathy for leaders who fail their citizens.”
As a stern supporter of Donald Trump and the Second Amendment (right to bear arms) I have come to terms with the sad reality that Gun laws have loopholes that need to be fixed. I have faith that the president will make the right moves to ensure adequate reforms of the current gun laws.
Here is an overview of the current gun laws in the United States, evaluate for yourself if these laws are adequate:
Major federal gun laws
Most federal gun laws are found in the following acts:
- National Firearms Act(“NFA”) (1934): Taxes the manufacture and transfer of, and mandates the registration of Title II weapons such as machine guns, short-barreled rifles and shotguns, heavy weapons, explosive ordnance, silencers, and disguised or improvised firearms.
- Federal Firearms Act of 1938(“FFA”): Requires that gun manufacturers, importers, and persons in the business of selling firearms have a Federal Firearms License (FFL). Prohibits the transfer of firearms to certain classes of persons, such as convicted felons.
- Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968(1968): Prohibited interstate trade in handguns, increased the minimum age to 21 for buying handguns.
- Gun Control Act of 1968(“GCA”): Focuses primarily on regulating interstate commerce in firearms by generally prohibiting interstate firearms transfers except among licensed manufacturers, dealers and importers. Requires anyone engaged in the business of selling guns to have Federal Firearm License (FFL) and keep record of their sales.
- Loophole – If a supplier is selling from his or her private collection and the principal objective is not to make a profit, the seller is not “engaged in the business” and is not required to have a license. Because they are unlicensed, these sellers are not required to keep records of sales and are not required to perform background checks on potential buyers, even those prohibited from purchasing guns by the Gun Control Act. The gun show loophole refers to the fact that prohibited purchasers can avoid required background checks by seeking out these unlicensed sellers at gun shows. (csgv.org)
- Firearm Owners Protection Act(“FOPA”) (1986): Revised and partially repealed the Gun Control Act of 1968. Prohibited the sale to civilians of automatic firearms manufactured after the date of the law’s passage. Required ATF approval of transfers of automatic firearms.
- Loophole – If you have an automatic weapon from before 1986, it was grandfathered through the law. So, it’s still legal to buy, sell, and exchange these kinds of weapons. There are more than 630,000 of these guns still in circulation per federal data (vox.com)
- Undetectable Firearms Act(1988): Effectively criminalizes, with a few exceptions, the manufacture, importation, sale, shipment, delivery, possession, transfer, or receipt of firearms with less than 3.7 oz of metal content.
- Loophole – As the law stands, a metal piece is required, but nothing is said about the permanence or the functionality of the metal. With the advent of technology, someone could easily insert a small metal pin to align with the law, remove it as necessary to pass through security, and still have a fully functioning weapon to carry onto a plane. (thedailybeast.com)
- Gun-Free School Zones Act(1990): Prohibits unauthorized individuals from knowingly possessing a firearm at a place that the individual knows, or has reasonable cause to believe, is a school zone.
- Loophole – it doesn’t apply to individuals licensed by a state to possess or carry a handgun. (lawcenter.giffords.org)
- Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act(1993): Requires background checks on most firearm purchasers, depending on seller and venue.
- Loophole – Majority of guns purchased at gun shows do not require background checks from buyers – gun shows are the second largest source of “crime guns.” (csgv.org)
- Federal Assault Weapons Ban(1994–2004): Banned semiautomatics that looked like assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices. The law expired in 2004.
- Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act(2005): Prevent firearms manufacturers and licensed dealers from being held liable for negligence when crimes have been committed with their products.
- Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994: Referred to commonly as the Assault Weapons Ban (AWB), this act was signed into law by President Clinton as a subsection of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 with the intent to prohibit the sale of semiautomatic firearms and “large capacity” ammunition magazines. However, the ban only applied to arms manufactured after the law was implemented and the so-called sunset provision allowed the legislation to expire in 2004. Loopholes in the bill allowed for cosmetic modifications to semi-automatic weapons to turn previously illegal weapons into law-abiding firearms. Several attempts to re-enact the legislation have failed. (nwfdaily.com)
- Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005: President George W. Bush presided signed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) into law, which protects firearms manufacturers and weapons dealers from liability when crimes are committed with the weapons they sell. However, defective products that backfire could result in a lawsuit and sellers who knowingly make a gun transaction when a crime is about to be committed can be prosecuted under the law. Hillary Clinton stated that she would repeal the law if she becomes president, putting gun dealers on notice: “They are the only business in America that is wholly protected from any kind of liability. They can sell a gun to someone they know they shouldn’t, and they won’t be sued.” (nwfdaily.com)
The following persons are eligible to possess and own firearms within the United States, though further restrictions apply:
- US citizens
- permanent resident aliens
- non-immigrant aliens admitted into the United States for lawful hunting or sporting purposes or if the non-immigrant alien falls under one of the following exceptions:
- possesses a valid hunting license or permit issued by any US state
- an official representative of a foreign government who is accredited to the United States Government or the Government’s mission to an international organization having its headquarters in the United States or is en route to or from another country to which that alien is accredited
- an official of a foreign government or a distinguished foreign visitor who has been so designated by the Department of State
- a foreign law enforcement officer of a friendly foreign government entering the United States on official law enforcement business
- has received a waiver from the Attorney Generalas long as the waiver petition shows this would be in the interests of justice and would not jeopardize the public safety under 18 U.S. Code § 922(y)(3)(c)
Each state has its own laws regarding who can own or possess firearms, and there are various state and federal permitting and background check requirements. Controversy continues over which classes of people, such as convicted felons, people with severe or violent mental illness, and people on the federal no-fly list, should be excluded. Laws in these areas vary considerably, and enforcement is in flux.
By Lola Fajemirokun