What Are America's Current Gun Laws?

Gun laws vary from state to state.
Gun laws vary from state to state.

America is arguably the easiest country to legally own a gun. America’s “obsession” with guns has baffled many, although the country’s constitution protects the right to bear arms, with few states having regulations that supplement the constitution. Gun debate in the US evokes stronger emotions than other debates like abortion and immigration. Even with increased cases of gun violence, all attempts to regulate guns receive opposition from the “Second Amendment adherents.”

The Second Amendment (Amendment II)

Adopted on December 15, 1791, this amendment protects American citizens’ right to keep and bear arms and that the government cannot infringe on this right because they are part of the Bill of Rights. This right is an auxiliary right that supports the right of individuals to defend themselves when provoked, resist oppression, and defend the country when need be.

Common Laws Across Different States

In most states, gun owners must obtain a gun license to carry one and register with the police or other law enforcement agencies. In many states, people should conceal firearms in public although a few allow open carry. In different states, different authorities like the state or local authorities can pass gun laws to regulate firearms. Several states have additional laws in place for assault weapons like semi-automatic, automatic, short-barreled shotguns, and short-barreled rifles as well as magazines with a capability of carrying more than a given number of rounds. Two interesting laws in several states are the castle doctrine and the stand-your-ground law which enables a person to use whatever force necessary in self-defense within certain situations without a duty to run or retreat. Several states also require a background check before a person can own a firearm.

Gun Laws In Select States

In Alabama, one can own a firearm without a background check, registering, or having a license, however, one requires a permit to openly carry a secured handgun in public. Alabama does not allow citizens to own or carry assault and NFA weapons. Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming also do not require a permit to purchase, registration, or background checks. In these states, people can also own and openly carry assault and NFA weapons with small regulations on use. The other states have different regulations on different aspects like the need for a permit to purchase, firearm registration, magazine capacity restriction, carry permits, open carry restriction, vehicle carry laws, duty to inform rules, castle doctrine law, peaceful journey laws, background checks, red flag laws, stand-your-ground laws assault and NFA weapons restriction.

Recent Gun Debate

Since 1764, there have been over 200 incidences of school shootings in the US that has left many dead and countless others injured. There have also been many shooting incidences outside school environments in public spaces. Unfortunately, the number of shootings continues to increase and so is the number of victims. So far in 2018, there have been ten school shooting incidences, the latest being on March 7 in Huffman High School in Birmingham, Alabama that left one dead and injured two people. The worst of this year was on February 14, in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida which left seventeen dead and injured fourteen. These cases raised an ongoing debate on Gun Laws and regulations with students staging several protests. Students, parents, and policymakers continue to debate on the best ways that will keep students and the public safe. Suggestions include; improved and expanded background checks before gun ownership, training and arming teachers, raising the age for gun ownership, banning some types of firearms, banning Bump Stocks that automates semi-automatic firearms, and prohibiting large-capacity magazines among other restrictions.


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