The Impact of Mass Violence on Gun Control in the United States

Gun Control Background Checks
Gun Control Background Checks

U.S.A.-( In the immortal words of Bob Dylan, the times, they are a-changin'. Again. The tragic Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida could very well be a tipping point in the push towards stricter gun control in the United States. As we type, another shooting has taken place at Great Mills High School in Great Mills, Maryland. History shows that gun control legislation is born out of acts of violence. And now, on the heels of another mass shooting, we are living in a defining moment in time for gun control as evidenced by the plethora of political and academic commentary, protests, and a very active Congress.

A quick look at pending legislation in the Congress reveals that since January 2017, anywhere from 99 to more than 190 bills have been introduced (the number depends on whether the search term is “gun,” “firearm,” or “weapon”). There has been a flurry of activity since the Stoneman Douglas shooting, and we will examine some of these bills. Before we look at the present, however, we want to look back at the history of our country's major gun control laws. Understanding the history will surely lend valuable insight into the current legislative activity.


The first federal gun control legislation was the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA), which imposed a tax on the making and transfer of firearms defined by the Act, such as machineguns and short-barreled rifles and shotguns. The legislation arose out of the gangland violence of the 20s during Prohibition. “While the NFA was enacted by Congress as an exercise of its authority to tax, the NFA had an underlying purpose unrelated to revenue collection. As the legislative history of the law discloses, its underlying purpose was to curtail, if not prohibit, transactions in NFA firearms. Congress found these firearms to pose a significant crime problem because of their frequent use in crime, particularly the gangland crimes of that era such as the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.” ATF National Firearms Act Handbook, ATF E-Publication 5320.8, p. 1 (April 2009).


The 60s were a turbulent time in America. Iconic leaders President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy all were assassinated with firearms. In 1966, Charles Whitman killed 14 people and injured 31 others while shooting from the main building of the University of Texas at Austin. This shooting stood as the deadliest shooting on a U.S. college campus until the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007. Congress passed the Gun Control Act of 1968 to regulate interstate commerce in firearms by prohibiting interstate transfers except through licensed firearm manufacturers, dealers or importers. The statute also established a list of persons prohibited from possessing or receiving firearms.


In the wake of the murder of John Lennon and an assassination attempt of President Ronald Reagan, Congress passed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. This established a national background check system, known as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) must run all prospective non-licensed buyers through NICS to determine whether the buyer is eligible to receive a firearm.


The Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) of 1994 (expired in 2004), was the result of a series of mass shootings that happened in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including the Stockton schoolyard shooting in Stockton, California in 1989, the Luby's shooting in Killeen, Texas in 1991, and the 101 California Street shooting in San Francisco, California in 1993. The Stockton shooting involved a semi-automatic rifle and San Francisco involved a semi-automatic pistol.


Here we are at another pivotal time of mass violence. Over the past five years alone, since the shooting at The Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, there have been at least six mass shootings in our country that have taken the lives of more than ten people (not to discount the other shootings that have taken place in which less than ten people have lost their lives). These mass shootings include the Washington, DC Navy Yard shooting in 2013, the San Bernardino attack in 2015, the Orlando night club shooting in 2016, the Las Vegas shooting at the Route 91 Harvest music festival in 2017, the Texas First Baptist Church shooting in 2017, and finally the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting earlier this year on February 14.

Propelled by a renewed call for change following the Las Vegas shooting and the wave of protests following the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Congress has introduced multiple new pieces of legislation that attempt to address the issue of gun violence. Not surprisingly, each piece of legislation, if ultimately enacted, could impact the firearm and ammunition industry in some way. As of the date of this alert, nineteen such bills have been introduced in the first few months of 2018 alone. Proposals include raising the age to purchase certain semiautomatic rifles to 21, reinstating the semiautomatic assault weapons ban, and amending the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to require issuers to disclose in an annual report any substantial financial relationship with any manufacturer or dealer of firearms or ammunition.

A listing of some of the pending legislation, with links to additional information, is provided below.

  • S. 2502: Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act of 2018 – A bill to address gun violence, improve the availability of records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, address mental illness in the criminal justice system, and end straw purchases and trafficking of illegal firearms, and for other purposes. Introduced on 03/06/2018 by Sen. Grassley, Chuck [R-IA]. Cosponsors: Ted Cruz [R-TX].
  • H.R. 5164: Urban Progress Act of 2018 – To expand economic opportunities, improve community policing, and promote common-sense gun violence prevention in underserved communities, and for other purposes. Introduced on 03/05/2018 by Rep. Kelly, Robin L. [D-IL-2]. Cosponsors: 11(D).
  • H.R. 5163: Keeping Guns from High-Risk Individuals Act – To amend chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, to prohibit the sale or other disposition of a firearm to, and the possession, shipment, transportation, or receipt of a firearm by, certain classes of high-risk individuals. Introduced on 03/05/2018 by Rep. Kelly, Robin L. [D-IL-2]. Cosponsors: 18(D).
  • H.R. 5162: Firearm Safety Act of 2018 – To amend the Consumer Product Safety Act to remove the exclusion of pistols, revolvers, and other firearms from the definition of consumer product in order to permit the issuance of safety standards for such articles by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Introduced on 03/05/2018 by Rep. Kelly, Robin L. [D-IL-2]. Cosponsors: 21(D).
  • H.R. 5161 – To require the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service to submit to Congress an annual report on the effects of gun violence on public health. Introduced on 03/05/2018 by Rep. Kelly, Robin L. [D-IL-2]. Cosponsors: 53(D).
  • S. 2492: NICS Denial Notification Act of 2018 – A bill to provide for the reporting to State and local law enforcement authorities of cases in which the national instant criminal background check system indicates that a firearm has been sought to be acquired by a prohibited person, so that authorities may pursue criminal charges under State law, and to ensure that the Department of Justice reports to Congress on prosecutions secured against prohibited persons who attempt to acquire a firearm. Introduced on 03/05/2018 by Sen. Toomey, Pat [R-PA]. Cosponsors: 5(D) 4(R).
  • S. 2486: Safe Students Act – Introduced on 03/01/2018 by Sen. Paul, Rand [R-KY]. No Cosponsors.
  • H.R. 5134: STOP Straw Purchases Act – Introduced on 03/01/2018 by Rep. Bacon, Don [R-NE-2]. Cosponsors: 1(D).
  • S. 2475: BUMP Act – A bill to amend the GCA to prohibit the illegal modification of firearms. Introduced on 02/28/2018 by Sen. Flake, Jeff [R-AZ]. Cosponsors: 2(D) 1(R).
  • S. 2470: Age 21 Act – A bill to amend the GCA to prohibit the purchase of certain firearms by individuals under 21 years of age. Introduced on 02/28/2018 by Sen. Flake, Jeff [R-AZ]. Cosponsors: 2(D).
  • H.R. 5106: Investor Choice Against Gun Proliferation Act – To amend the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to require issuers to disclose in an annual report any substantial financial relationship with any manufacturer or dealer of firearms or ammunition. Introduced on 02/27/2018 by Rep. Meeks, Gregory W. [D-NY-5]. Cosponsors: 6(D).
  • H.R. 5103: Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities Act of 2018 – To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to increase the excise tax and special occupational tax in respect of firearms and to increase the transfer tax on any other weapon. Introduced on 02/27/2018 by Rep. Davis, Danny K. [D-IL-7]. Cosponsors: 12(D).
  • S. 2458: Terrorist Firearms Prevention Act – Introduced on 02/27/2018 by Sen. Collins, Susan M. [R-ME]. Cosponsors: 7(D) 3(R) 1(I).
  • H.R. 5090: Raise the Age Act – Introduced on 02/26/2018 by Rep. Brown, Anthony G. [D-MD-4]. Cosponsors: 23 (D) 3(R).
  • H.R.5088: No MAGA Act – Introduced on 02/26/2018 by Rep. Jackson Lee, Sheila [D-TX-18]. Cosponsors: 1(D).
  • H.R. 5087: Assault Weapons Ban of 2018 – Introduced on 2/26/2018 by Rep. Cicilline, David N. [D-RI-1]. Cosponsors: 173 (D).
  • H.R.5077: Assault Weapons Ban of 2018 – Introduced on 02/20/2018 by Rep. Wilson, Frederica S. [D-FL-24]. Cosponsors: 1 (D).
  • H.R.4786: Protecting Communities from Lost or Stolen Law Enforcement Weapons Act of 2017 – Introduced on 01/12/2018 by Rep. Meeks, Gregory W. [D-NY-5]. Cosponsors: 18 (D).
  • S. 2135: Fix NICS Act of 2017 – Introduced on 11/28/17 by Sen. Cornyn, John [R-TX-7]. Cosponsors: 38 (D), 31 (R), 2(I). There is an identical bill pending in the House (H.R. 4434).
  • S. 2095: Assault Weapons Ban of 2017 – Introduced on 11/8/17 by Sen. Feinstein, Dianne [D-CA]. Cosponsors: 28 (D), 1 (I).

It is important to note that all the above bills are at the very beginning stages of the legislative process and the draft texts will change.

History shows the push for new legislation has momentum on its side. Considering the current atmosphere and the public outcry after the Parkland shootings, it is quite possible we will see one or more new laws this year to add yet another layer of gun control in the United States.

The above alert is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed or used as legal advice. Receipt of this alert does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

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  • 18 thoughts on “The Impact of Mass Violence on Gun Control in the United States

    1. A well crafted artical. The 68 GCA was crafted after Germany’s laws to disarm their public, which resulted in the round up of citizens, and putting the unpopular kids in ovens. America is under attack. We Americans need to step up and use all legal means to addresses this problem. Our Presedent needs all the help we can muster. Infringement on the bill of rights is unacceptable.

      Our founding fathers studied societies and they realized why the other systems failed. They set our constitution forth and backed it with a bill of rights to keep the constitution intact. Attacks by the Dems, Rhinos and the ignorant children being duped and used by the antiguners, only serves the agenda of criminals and those who want our country to fail and fall. Just because a group has a unified thought/idea doesn’t always mean it’s a good idea, look what happens when the leadership of the lemmings decides to go running off a cliff into the ocean, not a good result for the rest of the lemmings.

      Those non-voting, non-tax paying, un-educated children should be taught civics and history in school, and if they want to be safe when it comes to firearms then gun safety should be taught in school as well. They should understand the cost of their freedom. How hundreds of thousands of law abiding military personnel from our start, to today, have given their lives for their freedom. Sacrifices made, so they can have their safe spaceses, and their public whine fests. Instead of whining about guns, and taking right away from 350 million law abiding citizens, maybe they should just be thankful. Maybe they should thank a veteran for the sweet freedom they have today. Maybe they should get some perspective, and trust that most of America might have a clue as a posed to a group who haven’t been on planet earth long enough to gather a lot of perspective.

      1) Gun free kill zones should be eliminated. 2) Concealed carry reciprocity needs to be passed nation wide/Federally. 3) Suppressors, short barreled rifles, short barreled shotguns should be removed from the NFA regestry and treared as a regular firearm. 4) The registry should be reopened with the elimination of the unconstitutional Highs Act amendment 1983. 5) No action on the bump stocks, BATFE already ruled on this. Think how bad it could have been if he didn’t use one.

      Ultimately untill we deal with the evil and hanus people causing these issues, we will not fix this problem. Guns have been part of the American DNA from day one. When evil and hanus meets a law abiding citizen with a gun, evil and hanus is exstinguished. That’s the American way. That’s how we survive to see tomorrow. That’s how we pass on to our children a better tomorrow. The second amendment has never been about anything other that a way to keep the American citizens in charge of their lives and to put the evil and hanus, i.e. our enemy’s, that would destroy us, in the ground. The semi-auto AR15 does that quite well. 1965-2018 is a good record.

      As we have seen, if the anti-gunners can’t take our rights by legal means, they will drop any pretenses and take them by force, with the left media cabal spouting their cause and their presses.

      It’s the opportunity, and the will to enforce the laws already on the books, not a lack of a law problem. We have too many of those already. Laws effect the law abiding, not criminals. Stop legislating against the lew abiding citizens. Maybe our President could abolish 15 unconstitutional gun control laws on the books, and add only add one, the liking in of mental health ajudications from the courts records to the NICS instant check system, so the folks selling the gun doesn’t have to rely on the honesty of a crazy person. 4473’s, kinda silly if crazies have to self report, and you have no way to verfy it. This would defiantly be a verify it moment.

    2. Comment …I’ll give a couple reasons why we will need more republicans (and new ones) . SCOTUS need two replacements there . Need a larger majority in the senate to prevent filibusters and stall games on approving new justices , and it all starts at the primaries . Some say the won’t vote but there is more to consider than any one office.

      1. @oldvet how quickly some forget, I remember the eight years of Obozo and the disastrous things he did to this country. Trump got put in a box over the military increases and they knew they had him (of course they could care less how safe we are). Yes, vote the traders out of office. There are a few good ones but not near enough.
        As for the liberal hyped high school brats, they need a lesson in the chain of command. We are going to get you if you don’t do what we want needs shoved down their snowflake throats.

    3. The above brings to mind the climate in higher academia; Publish or Perish”. Seems a lot of politicians, as with bureaucrats in general, feel they must strive to create new policy and regulation even when none is needed, just to justify their existence.

      -No state preemption on 2A.
      -Enforce existing laws! Guaranteed federal prosecution for anyone lying about criminal background on background check. Guaranteed process for mental evaluation and institutionalization of anyone found to have misrepresented their mental state in background check.
      -MANDATORY 20 year sentencing enhancement with NO PLEA BARGAINING for anyone committing a crime while in possession of or with use of a deadly device or potentially deadly force. Examples: flammables, hammer, scissors, club, cutting or stabbing device, firearm, fist(s), foot, striking or threat of striking with any potentially deadly objects, etc..
      -Public access to NICS for private sales.

      INCARCERATE the bad actors. C-GAG. (Chain-Gangs Are Good)

    4. Any and all laws pertaining to the 2nd amendment are unconstitutional PERIOD. All of our elected officials are not doing what they took an oath to do.My oath is still intact!!
      Just saying,
      remain calm and return fire!!
      Grampa 38

      1. @GM, All true. Many generations have let our Civil Rights slip away. We need more and more powerful controls over our elected, appointed, and hired employees in government. Term limits, the Peoples’ Right to Recall, Violation of oath of office should be perjury and immediate termination. Outlaw parties and lobbyists.

        1. “All true”? “Unconstitutional”?
          True or not, wishful thinking or not, none of that is going to happen.
          “Remain calm and return fire”?
          That’s some of the dumbest most counterproductive advice someone can post.
          Sound reasonable, speak logically, have the facts, and even don’t bother with the Pelosi, Flake, Feinstein, Collins, morons of the world. Their kind have their agenda in hand and minds made up.
          Ultimately, it will come down to political pressure and whether or not Trump is just another RINO. So far, it’s not looking good.

          1. @OJ, Yep, Read for your self the words of the Second Amendment, then compare any “gun control” law and I am confident that you will conclude that each of these federal and state statutes are infringements.
            If we can send “not corrupted yet” candidates to Congress, by voting for the non-party-favorite, in the primaries we could get back to the limited government that the Constitution contemplates.

      2. exactly.
        because unless things change?? that’s what’s coming pretty soon i feel.

    5. Some of the pending legislations are really laughable. Sheila Jackson (D-Tx) no MAGA, what the ? Flakey flake has several. Frederica Wilson,cowboy hat, (D-Fla.) assault weapons ban. Then there is granny Feinstein and her 2017 assault weapons ban. I am not making lite of the seriousness of these bills but some of the players are way out in left field.

        1. @old vet you got that right! Cowboy hats are good on cowboys, I own a couple of them, but the rine stone and flashy colors make me laugh. Some in congress are crazy enough to do anything and that is scary.

    6. How about enforcing the laws already on the books instead of adding other laws, many which are redundant. Stop blaming lawful people and lawful commerce for the criminal actions of a few.

      1. @JB, if they stopped blaming law abiding people, then there would be no “gun control” laws, and criminals would pay for their crimes. It is not fashionable to blame people for their bad actions.

    7. Everyone knows where this attack on our 2A rights is headed. It’s coming, and it’s not far away. There WILL be an incident that will start an armed confrontation between pro-2A and anti-2A groups. The signs are obvious. If you don’t see them, you’d better pay more attention.

    8. We already have too many laws. Sadly, the only judge of a legislator’s success is how many bills they can introduce and/or get passed, which is a big part of the whole problem. We need to get rid of a bunch of existing useless laws and I’d vote for anyone who advocated doing so when they got to Washington. Barring that, it would almost be as beneficial to elect someone who would advocate voting against any new laws without first getting rid of 5 old ones first. This is what happens when we elect lawyers to Washington. If we had elected vegans we’d have laws against meat and mandatory vegetable levels, so why are we surprised if we have too many stupid laws — it’s job security for them and their fellow shysters.

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