To the editor:
Gun control in America has become a glaring issue in light of a continuing display of deadly violence committed against innocents. The evolution of our laws is testimony to a protracted, laborious and conflicted process that has failed to protect us adequately.
The 1934 National Firearms Act was a revenue act that imposed taxes on the manufacture, import and transfer of firearms. The goal was to curtail the proliferation of firearms, especially those used in crimes.
In 1968 Title II of the Gun Control Act was enacted, in part, as part of a broader response to the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King. It provided a public policy framework to prohibit gun sales to felons and other prohibited persons, and it established guidelines for lawful transactions through licensing provisions and federal regulatory authority.
The 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act prohibited the transfer of machine guns and amended the 1934 Firearms Act to include silencers.
Interestingly, in December 2018, then-Attorney General Matthew Whittaker announced the Department of Justice had declared that bump stocks were a form of machine gun.
The 1986 Lautenberg Amendment provided a regulatory framework that outlawed the dissemination of firearms to individuals who committed domestic violence misdemeanors.
The 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act amended the 1986 gun control act by imposing a five-day waiting period on a licensed gun dealer (manufacturer, dealer or importer) prior to transferring a gun to an unlicensed person. Relative to handguns, this was an interim requirement that remained in effect only until 1998 and in states without an alternate system for background checks. There are permanent components that address this restriction on other forms of firearms, such as rifles.
In 1994 the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, a subsection of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, imposed new prohibitions on semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and large capacity magazines.
This ban was effective for 10 years only. It expired in September of 2004.
All of these legislative forays provide a mosaic of a nation struggling to reconcile the lawful owning of guns by law-abiding citizens, as bracketed by the Second Amendment, versus the scourge of the criminal proliferation of guns.
But the struggle must continue, and the evolution of gun control must accelerate to include inevitable measures.
Such measures are to mandate comprehensive background checks, red flag laws and outright banning through the re-authorization of the assault weapons ban of semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and large capacity magazines. There must be a range of additional prohibitions for the transferring of firearms at gun shows.
The discussion about mental health is a completely separate, collateral track to address the scourge of gun violence in our nation. It is a valid one. But until we have measures in place to comprehensively address mental health in ways to reduce gun violence, tragic incidents will continue unabated.
A bruised nation and an incredulous world await action from our national leaders.
Amid the quiescence is the perfect insertion point for thoughts and prayers.