SEE SOMETHING - SAY SOMETHING
NOW DO SOMETHING
LISTEN TO THE STUDENTS
Let me be upfront from the beginning... I believe in and support the creation and intent of the 2nd Amendment as envisioned by our Founding Fathers. I became a proud member of the NRA about 1955 because I was a hunter and their magazine at the time had numerous stories of successful ventures into the wilds of North America, encouraged gun safety and gave pertinent information about the capability of different firearms for hunting purposes.
However, about a decade later, after becoming a police officer I did not renew my membership because I felt the organization had let us down by not supporting the proposed ban on AK - 47's, a weapon developed for war with its only purpose being to kill the enemy, thus allowing them to enter the public domain. Numerous peace keeping forces throughout the country opposed their reluctance to allow individuals to "out gun" us as we had nothing comparable to protect the citizens of our communities or ourselves.
The NRA was organized in 1871 with the primary goal of improving civilians' marksmanship in preparation for any future wars. It was not until 1927 that Congress passed its first modern legislation, the banning of mailing concealable weapons. In 1934, The National Firearms Act regulated the manufacture, sale and possession of fully automatic firearms and sawed-off shotguns. 1938 saw The Federal Firearms Act which imposed a federal license requirement on gun manufacturers, importers, and persons selling firearms. It also required licensees to maintain customer records and made it illegal to sell to convicted felons. It was not until 1968 after the assassinations of President John Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy that The Gun Control Act was passed which regulated mail order and interstate shipment of firearms or ammunition except among licensed manufactures, dealers and importers. It also prohibited the sale of firearms or ammunition to felons, drug users and people found to be mentally incompetent and defined "Prohibited Persons". President Kennedy was killed by a rifle purchased from a mail order ad in the American Rifleman, published by the NRA.
1984 saw the Armed Career Criminal Act passed that increased the penalties from 10 to 15 years imprisonment for felons who commit crimes with firearms if they are convicted of certain crimes three or more times. This Act provides for an implied maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
In January, 1989, Patrick Purdy returned to the Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, CA, where he had attended as a child, with a legally purchased version of the AK-47 and shot 106 rounds in three minutes killing five students and wounding 34 others. In February of the same year former President Ronald Reagan, only a few weeks out of office stated, "I do not believe in taking away the right of the citizen for sporting, for hunting or for home defense, but I do believe that an AK-47, a machine gun, is not a sporting weapon or needed for home defense".
The 1990 Crime Control Act banned the manufacturing and importing of semiautomatic assault weapons and created, "Gun free school zones", establishing specific penalties for violations of the Act.
In 1994 former Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan wrote to members of the House of Representatives, "We urge your support for a ban on the domestic manufacture of military-style assault weapons as a matter of public safety. Although they account for less than 1% of the guns in circulation, they account for nearly 10% of the guns traced to a crime. In 1993 a Gallup Poll found that 77% of Americans support a ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of semi-automatic assault guns such as the AK-47. The 1989 import ban resulted in an impressive 40% drop in imported assault weapons traced to a crime between 1989 and 1991. While we recognize that assault weapon legislation will not stop all assault weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals. We urge you to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on further manufacture of these weapons".
The Federal Assault Weapons Ban was enacted in 1994 that prohibited the manufacture, transfer or possession, for civilian use, certain semi-automatic firearms defined as "assault weapons" and certain "large capacity" ammunition magazines or "clips". This bill expired on September 13, 2004 in accordance with its 10 year sunset provision.
Also in 1994 two bills were passed, The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was passed that imposed a 5 day waiting period on the purchase of a handgun and requires local law enforcement agencies conduct background checks on purchasers of handguns and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act prohibiting the sale, manufacture, importation or possession of specific assault type weapons for a 10 year period. Both bills expired on September 13, 2004 after Congress failed to reauthorize them.
However, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was launched by the FBI in 1998 which requires Federal Firearms Licensees to instantly determine whether a purchaser is eligible to buy firearms. More than 250 million checks have been made leading to 1.3 million denials through 2016.
In 1999 a bill is passed 51 - 50 with Vice President Al Gore casting the deciding vote requiring trigger locks on all newly manufactured handguns and extended the waiting period and background check requirements for sale of firearms at gun shows.
2004 sees Congress failing to continue funding for President George W. Bush's 2001 Project Safe Neighborhoods, to reduce gun and gang crime by networking with local programs promoting community outreach.
In 2008 The National Instant Criminal Background Check Improvement Act was signed by President Bush requiring background checks for legally declared mentally ill individuals who are ineligible to purchase firearms.
The rest is not history yet...many bills have been introduced but not passed or acted on which leaves a lot in limbo and at peril if we are to see supplemental legislation that can make a difference in the current morass we find ourselves experiencing on a regular basis and facing in the future. As is evident by this brief timeline of Congressional action related to firearms regulation there have been notable legislative accomplishments in the past but we appear to be mired in the swamp without a guide to get us out at this point. While the very important considerations of "bump stocks" and the "ghost guns" should be illegal by previously enacted laws they have not been brought before Congress for a vote. Many of the existing laws would cover a multitude of our concerns but there needs to be either a.) better coordination between the various agencies who can enforce the associated legalities and/or 2.) introduce new or in some cases reintroduce those Acts that can and have made a difference that were allowed to "sunset".
We need leaders that are representing a vast majority of Americans who are grieving over the 96 mass "shootings" since 1997 that have been indiscriminate as to race, age, gender, sexual orientation or religious preference. If those currently in office can not take action then those students like David Hogg will make the necessary changes in the near future in spite of the 600 pound gorilla in the corner of the room.
A final note...as a gun owner and hunter I have no fear of, "lawful duty of disclosure", as I have nothing to hide (even at gun shows) and welcome any change that might, hopefully, prevent even one more child from reaching their potential for the sake of our country.