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Opponents of gun control became more proactive and in 1977 after the capture of NRA leader, they began to harm the reputation of the GCA officers and executives. They aimed to scare the gun owners into thinking that they will be harassed and prosecuted for possessing guns.
Opponents of gun control pushed the Carter administration to remove the proposals which aimed at changing the execution of the laws. After this was done they became even more proactive in their campaign (Vizzard, 1993; 228-235). In 1979 and 1980, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms was called in for Hearings in the Senate after they sidestepped Congress to trigger a change in policy utilizing executive power. While the federal administration had influenced this strategy on not only the treasury but also the ATF, they rapidly backed out from the ATF and dumped the strategy as they saw strong resistance (Vizzard, 1993; 180-188).
A supportive administration of opposing gun control soon took office in the form of Ronald Reagan. Merger of ATF with American Secret Service has been the instant outcome of Reagan's victory. Adversaries of gun control immediately changed their stance to go up against this merger as they had called for a complete elimination of ATF. Symbolism lost and real politics won; as ATF had become no more than a mere symbol, a symbol, too valuable to abandon. Despite the fact that ATF successfully managed to survive, its chief had been replaced for the second time in less than three years. Also, its morale had been plunged due to reduction in both staffing and budget (Vizzard, 1993; 185-188).
Agenda of opponents of gun control reigned supreme all through Reagan and Bush presidency. ATF shifted its focus to armed criminals and drug mafia from the business and trade of firearms. ATF became an innate part of both Reagan and Bush administration's war against drugs due to its change of focus. Any activity that seemed to be connected to gun control was avoided; such became the approach of the ATF while Reagan and Bush had been in office (Vizzard, 1993; 185-188).
Overturning these development
Volkmer-McClure Bill had become the primary focal point of the opponents of gun control after Reagan took office. The tactics used to pass the bill had a key element of defaming the ATF. GCA had been weakened by limiting its control over trade and commerce of guns in 1986 after "Firearms Owners' Protection Act" had been enacted. Furthermore, the policy of gun dealer to report the identity of the buyer had been limited in this act. It is said that the dynamics began to change even before the enactment of Volkmer-McClure (Vizzard, 1993; 254-258).
Throughout the 1970's one could see slow but steady weakening of the thought that GCA would soon become the first legal procedure to bring about an incremental transformation and ban guns possession completely. A number of advocates who believed in such thought had been discouraged when they saw augmented support from Congress for Volkmer-McClure bill and the 1982 defeat of the California program to forbid handgun commerce (Vizzard, 1993; 254-258).
Handgun Control, Inc. (HCI) materialized as the guiding force amid supporters after the Proposition 15. Throughout the subsequent decade, HCI counteracted the issue and revitalized its fate and influenced drastic changes in the policy. A Teflon covered bullet had been designed by a local firm named KTW, which had the power to penetrate cars, even police body armored cars; as shown in an NBC news presentation. While almost all bullets used in handguns had the power to penetrate soft-armored vehicles, the bullet designed by KTW had become known as "cop killer bullets." The issue of gun control once again becomes center stage with this technology out in the market. This time both the law enforcement agencies and the general public supported gun control. This was followed with a progression towards introduction of a bill to ban armored-penetration bullets by Mario Biaggi, who had been an ex-New York police officer. As it turns out, the NRA opposed the bill out without any reservations (Davidson, 1993; 85-98).
For two primary reasons, the ATF largely closed its eyes towards the issue. Firstly, it was put forward that this issue had absolutely no practical implications; and secondly, ATF had no desire to be connected to gun control in any way. This issue tuned to have vital political repercussions, despite the fact that it failed to make any impact on policy change. This issue was seen by HCI, as well as, many others, as a wedge between the police and the NRA. Soon after the enactment of Volkmer-McClure, the police started to openly favor gun control. The supporters of gun control found a winning combination to overcome the NRA propaganda. The HCI diverted its focus from forcing an all-inclusive policy towards gun control to presenting restricted and fairly inoffensive tenders with wide symbolic interests. Such tenders too were either opposed by the NRA, which demonstrated their extremism or were accepted as control programs. While this strategy to defame NRA had worked, it diverted the focus of the Congress from drafting an all-inclusive policy of gun control (Davidson, 1993; 85-98).
The enactment of the Brady's Bill national interval period and the passing of the Brady's bill had been next in line to stir up controversy in this contentious issue. Interval periods had already been enacted as majority of the people already lived in states. Majority of the laws on gun control had far more practical implications than the Brady's laws as they did not even forbid the maintenance of sales record by the police. Majority of the banned people used to obtain guns from private transactions and the law disregarded this as well. Majority of the local police chiefs started to file law suits to prevent its execution as it obligated them to check the sales record instead of the state or federal officials. ATF had little influence over its agents and it had been assigned to confront and execute a law which had been made difficult by both state and local factors (Davidson, 1993; 85-98).
Another transformation seems to have taken place with the enactment of the Brady's law. Advocates choose two different directions as a response. While the response of the Congress was very unenthusiastic, the HCI proposed a number of comprehensive policy alternatives, which included licensing of gun owners and their registration. While certain guns had been banned by the Congress, these guns can be classified less by functions than by type. For instance, assault weapons (which have been banned) can also be classified as semi-automatic revolvers, which are coverable as well. The control over assault rifles and evasion of controlling pistols, which can be considered more politically risky, gives little practical explanation. This has been overcome by the Congress by controlling the distribution of pistol magazines (Davidson, 1993; 85-98).
The democratic power of interest groups
The National Rifle Association (NRA) has been portrayed by the media as the most powerful group behind the entire controversy over the gun control policy. By using major legislators it has successfully managed to frustrate and prevent the wishes of the vast majority. Since 1934 NRA has played a key role in gun control policy making and while majority of the American people strongly support enhanced legal control over possession of guns. This however is not the complete picture of the dynamics of policy making of gun control. The factors that have been able to successfully shape gun control regulations along with every other regulation are far more complicated than just an interest group manipulating Congress votes (Davidson, 1993; 85-98).
Firstly, to simply illustrate NRA as an interest lobby that has been extremely well-financed can be considered as partly true, but it is far from being completely true. NRA is a grass root institution with support that stretches out far beyond its official members. NRA's policy has not been limited to manipulating the Congress but also influencing the hearts and minds of the American people. Such strategy has disheartened the bureau from conducting practical experiments so as to seek and offer solution and become more effective in controlling of possession of guns and modifying present laws (Davidson, 1993; 85-98).
Use of democratic ideals for achieving political ends
The issue of gun control reflects the cultural ideals of democracy, human rights, equality, freedom, power, human nature, and economic efficiency; each of which have been shared through the drafting and execution of gun control policies. The opponents of gun control measures not only have been able to limit the consideration of alternative policies and but also have influenced the execution of strategies. Cobb and Elder (1972; 85-87) characterized four different standards for evaluating the political plans of these interest groups. These four standards are:
Wide-ranging public awareness of the issue.
Agreement that it represents a momentous problem
Legality as a public concern,…[continue]
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