Gun control has been a controversial subject for the public and the government. Obama administration has come under attack for its silence on the issue. In September 2008, the president promised people that he wouldn't take away their guns, and since then, he has not done anything to introduce stricter laws thus attracting serious criticism from many quarters including the Brady campaign in 2010. (Altman, 2011) With gun-related incidents on the rise, many wonder why gun control is not a priority for our government. In this country, we definitely needed stricter gun control laws to be able to better address the alarming rise in gun-related incidents.
Gun laws in the country have become tougher over the years but still they are not as strict as some may desire. The result is series of horrific incidents in which tens of young men and women lost their lives. School shootings such as the one that occurred last year at Virginia Tech University have generated serious uproar together with parents' desperate pleas for stricter gun control laws.
The grief the followed such incidents also resulted in political measures that had some influence on gun control laws. However these laws are still too broad and thus fail to provide adequate protection against gun-related violence. By broad, we mean, federal laws do not offer specific legislation on guns on the campus or guns held for a certain purpose. Instead it offer an umbrella protection to everyone by making laws which are definitely worth their weight in gold but are not actually imposed by all states. The gaps between state and federal gun control laws make the problem even worse.
Federal gun control policy is simple: firearms must not reach irresponsible or dangerous people. This approach is particularly uncontroversial and hence approved by most quarters. Some of the key laws in this regard are the 1968 law passed in response to the killing of Robert Kennedy, the federal law prohibiting sale of firearm without background check, and prohibition on sales to illegal aliens. These laws should have been good enough to stop some incidents like the Virginia Tech massacre but the reason they failed lies in gaps existing between state and federal laws. Due to these gaps, Seung-Hui Cho was never reported to the federal police as he has already been termed mentally ill. According to 1968 federal law, people who are "adjudicated as a mental defective" are prohibited from possessing firearms. This is probably the most significant piece of legislation on gun control in last 50 years. Even though attempts have been made to pass other laws too, none have been as significant in their impact as the Gun Control Act of 1968. The main objectives of the Act were as follows:
(1) Eliminating the interstate traffic in firearms and ammunition that had previously frustrated state and local efforts to license, register, or restrict ownership of guns.
(2) Denying access to firearms to certain congressionally defined groups, including minors, convicted felons, and persons who had been adjudicated as mental defectives or committed to mental institutions.
(3) Ending the importation of all surplus military firearms and all other guns unless certified by the Secretary of the Treasury as "particularly suitable for ... sporting purposes."
The country needs stricter gun control laws but a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision may give another message. In June 2008, U.S. Supreme court gave an emphatic nod to firearm owners when it overturned a Washington DC ban on possession of guns. No other recent decision was as vital in significance as this one since it offered an interpretation of the Second Amendment and also explained how constitution treats the subject. In writing the majority opinion, Justice Scalia, ruled that the Constitute does not infer "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home.
For this reason gun control laws are definitely one of the most controversial issues in the country. Even though we acknowledge the need for stricter gun control laws, the Supreme Court interpretations of the Constitutions and other rights, often create a hurdle for the implementation and passing of these laws. Jenson (2007) writes: "Gun control legislation has had a long and inconsistent history in the…