The Gun Control Debate and Americaâ€™s Gun Laws
The year 2019 has so far seen a spike in the number of mass shootings in the United States. Recent shootings at El Paso in Texas and Dayton in Ohio have once again sparked the never-ending debate about gun control in the U.S.
A 2018 survey by the Small Arms Survey indicates that there are more than 393 million guns owned by American civilians. That brings the statistics to a ratio of about 120 firearms per every 100 civilians. Gun laws in the U.S. have definitely made it possible for most citizens to purchase and own guns. Those pushing for tight control over gun ownership believe that there’s a need for massive changes to the current laws if these mass shootings are to decrease.
Nonetheless, individuals in support of the law believe that each American citizen has a right to keep and own arms, as the constitution stipulates. They are also of the opinion that stricter gun laws cannot bring an end to these shootings. This is a debate that’s bound to go on for long. Also, itâ€™s yet to be seen as to whether any major changes will be made to the Second Amendment of Constitution.
In the meantime, itâ€™s important to be privy to the gun laws in the country. Some of the important facts to be aware of include:
- Citizens and legal residents of the United States are required to be 18 years or above to purchase rifles and ammunition. This regulation is found in the Gun Control Act of 1968. It also only allows people who are at least 21 years of age to own handguns and other types of firearms besides rifles.
- Firearm dealers must be at least 21 years of age. The dealers also need to obtain a Federal Firearms License. Gun owners and dealers alike who have served felony sentences exceeding a year are prohibited from owning or selling guns.
- Federal gun law does not require gun bearers to have licenses. An amendment made to the 1968 Act in 1993, however, requires potential buyers to have a background check. That is usually done by the FBIâ€™s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and can take less than ten minutes. That said, there are states with gun ownership regulations which require eligible Americans to get permits before buying a gun.
- While the federal government regulates laws concerning the selling, purchasing, and owning of firearms by civilians, state laws regulate the issue of carrying guns. A majority of states give permits which allow open or concealed carrying of firearms.
Tips for Firearms Safety
As a gun owner, itâ€™s also vital to know how to handle a gun safely. Some of the basic safety measures include:
- Only point your gun when you intend to shoot. Otherwise, keep the muzzle pointed towards the ground or to the sky.
- Always keep your finger off the trigger unless youâ€™re ready to fire. That should also be the case when you have the safety on.
You also need to know where to get genuine parts and accessories for your firearms. Seek quality, genuine, and legal services from a registered dealer.
Remember that each state has its own gun laws and regulations besides those of federal law. Depending on the state you live in, itâ€™s advisable to check the applicable laws since staying informed is crucial.