Top 10 National Policy Issues

The 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified on December 17, 1791, and states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  This inherent right to bear arms is a constitutional privilege which distinguishes the United States from most of the rest of the world.  In a country of 315 million people, Americans possess about 300 million firearms.1

There are roughly 32,000 gun deaths per year in the United States, of which 60% are suicides and about 3% are accidental deaths.1  According to FBI statistics, firearms accounted for 8,103 of the 11,930 U.S. murders in 2014 (5,545 by handgun, 248 by rifle, 25 by shotgun, and 2,052 by unknown type).2  However, News-Times reported in 2007 that 78% of all shooting deaths are drug, gang, or other criminal-related incidents committed with unregistered guns wielded by non-licensed criminals, with less than 1% percent committed by legal gun owners.

Recent high-profile tragedies, such as the devastating shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, the murders at the Aurora, Colorado movie theater in 2012, and the 2016 Pulse Nightclub massacre, highlighted a need for greater efforts to keep dangerous firearms out of the hands of criminals, potential terrorists, and those who lack the mental competencies to possess guns.  At the center of the debate are the issues of federal background checks (see FBI Fact Sheet), states rights to pass their own gun laws, as well as HIPPA laws in regards to balancing patient privacy rights with protecting communities.  2nd Amendment advocates argue that greater enforcement of current gun control laws is needed rather than drafting new laws.

1Putting Gun Death Statistics In Perspective
2Crime in the U.S
3Don't Blame Crime on Legal Gun Owners

Congressional Record – House
January 12, 2016
The President’s Push on Gun Control

Congressional Record – House
July 23, 2012
Sensible Gun Control Legislation

H.R.452 - Gun Trafficking Prevention Act of 2013
Sponsor:  Rep. Maloney, Carolyn B. [D-NY-12]
Introduced 02/04/2013
Committees:    House - Judiciary

Summary:  Amends the federal criminal code to prohibit any person, in or affecting interstate commerce:

  1. From purchasing, attempting to purchase, or transferring a firearm, with intent to deliver the firearm to another person who the transferor has reasonable cause to believe is prohibited from possessing a firearm.
  2. In attempting to purchase or transferring a firearm, from intentionally providing false or misleading material information on an ATF firearms transaction record form, or
  3. Knowingly directing, promoting, or facilitating such a violation. 

Makes exceptions for a firearm that is lawfully acquired:

  1. To be given to another person not prohibited from possessing it under federal or state law as a gift; or
  2. By a court-appointed trustee, receiver, or conservator on behalf of an estate or creditor, to carry out a bequest, or in an acquisition by intestate succession.

Directs the U.S. Sentencing Commission to review and/or amend federal sentencing guidelines applicable to persons convicted of offenses under this Act.

S.1260 — Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act
Sponsor: Sen. Mitchell, George J. [D-ME]
Introduced 06/11/1991
Cosponsors: (2) Committees:  Senate - Judiciary

Summary:  Act makes it unlawful for any licensed importer, manufacturer, or dealer to sell, deliver, or transfer a handgun to an unlicensed individual unless:

  1. The transferor has received a statement of eligibility from the individual, has notified law enforcement of individual's place of residence, and either has received a response indicating the transfer is not prohibited by law or has not received a response indicating otherwise within 7 days.
  2. The individual has presented a statement from the officer (within 10 days) that the individual requires a handgun because of a threat to him or his family.
  3. The individual has presented a permit to possess a handgun that has been issued in the past five years by the State in which the transfer is to take place under a State law which requires law enforcement verification of the individual's legal qualification to possess a handgun.
  4. State law either requires a waiting period of at least 7 days or requires that an authorized government official to verify the possession of an individual's handgun; or
  5. The individual's possession of the handgun would violate any report from any system of felon identification established under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988.

Requires the statement of eligibility to include a statement that the individual:

  1. Is not under indictment for and has not been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
  2. Is not a fugitive.
  3. Is not an unlawful user of a controlled substance.
  4. Has not been adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution.
  5. Is not illegally in the United States.
  6. Has not been dishonorably discharged from the armed forces; and
  7. Has not renounced U.S. citizenship.

Requires any transferor who, after a transfer, receives a report that receipt or possession of the handgun by the individual violates the law, to:

  1. Furnish information about the transfer and the individual to the chief law enforcement officer of the transferor's place of business and the individual's residence; and
  2. Keep confidential any information received which is not otherwise available to the public.

S.890 — Gun Show Loophole Closing and Gun Law Enforcement Act of 2001

107th Congress (2001-2002)
Sponsor: Sen. McCain, John [R-AZ]
Introduced 05/15/2001
Cosponsors: (5) Committees: Senate - Judiciary

Summary:  Act amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act to provide for regulation of firearms transfers at special firearms events.

Prohibits a special firearms events frequent operator from organizing, planning, promoting, or operating a special firearms event without meeting specified requirements. Sets forth:

  1. Responsibilities of special firearms events infrequent operators, transferors other than licensees, and licensees;
  2. Special firearms event license application requirements; and
  3. Penalties for violation of this Act.

Provides an option for 24-hour background checks at special firearms events for States with computerized disqualifying records and programs to improve State databases.

Increases penalties for:

  1. (1) Serious record keeping violations; and
  2. (2) violations of criminal background check requirements.

H.J.Res.81 — Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States repealing the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
103rd Congress (1993-1994)
Sponsor: Rep. Owens, Major R. [D-NY-11]
Introduced 01/27/1993
Cosponsors: (0) Committees: House - Judiciary

Summary:  Constitutional Amendment - Repeals the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution (the right of the people to keep and bear arms).

Issue Topic

Gun Control

Polling question

Should the federal government pass stricter gun control laws?

Yes, Strongly Agree
Yes, Agree
Neutral / No opinion
No, Disagree
No, Strongly Disagree


President Donald Trump campaigned strongly for 2nd Amendment rights during the 2016 general Presidential election cycle.  He also advocated for the need for greater restrictions on the purchasing of firearms, such as restrictions on assault rifles. 

President Trump believes that neither major party has it right on gun laws, stating in The America We Deserve, “It’s often argued that the American murder rate is high because guns are more available here than in other countries. Democrats want to confiscate all guns, which is a dumb idea because only the law-abiding citizens would turn in their guns and the bad guys would be the only ones left armed. The Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions…I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun. With today’s Internet technology we should be able to tell within 72-hours if a potential gun owner has a record.”

President Trump revealed to Katy Tur of NBC that he has a gun license.1  Trump refused to reveal to Katy Tur whether or not he owned a gun.  When asked if he uses a gun at gun ranges, Trump responded, “It is none of your business, it is really none of your business. I have a license to have a gun.”  When asked if he would make any changes to gun laws to make it more difficult to own a gun, Trump responded, “The problem is once you get into that you start getting into a situation, the slippery slope, where all of a sudden you are going to violate the Second Amendment. I don’t want to violate the Second Amendment. To me the Second Amendment is very important.”

President Trump strongly believes that Americans have the right to own firearms to protect themselves and their families.  Whether or not Trump will support increased restrictions on assault weapons is still undetermined.  However, he has stated that he supports addressing mental health concerns to prevent the rise of public shootings.  When asked in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo about the rise in public shootings, Trump stated, “This isn’t a gun problem, this is a mental problem. It’s not a question of the laws, it’s really the people.”1

1Donald Trump on Gun Control

Second Amendment to the United States Constitution
Adopted on December 15, 1791.
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

18 U.S.C. § 922 : US Code - Section 922: Unlawful acts

US Code - Chapter 44: FIREARMS

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
Decided: August 06, 2002

Summary:  This action challenges the constitutionality of Title XI of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, commonly referred to as the “semi-automatic assault weapons ban.” ? It was originally brought by the National Rifle Association, a group of gun manufacturers and retailers, and a number of individual gun owners. ? The complaint alleged violations of due process, of equal protection, and of the commerce clause. ? The district court initially dismissed the action for lack of standing and lack of ripeness. ? National Rifle Ass'n v. Magaw, 909 F.Supp. 490 (E.D.Mich.1995). ? On appeal, we affirmed in part and reversed in part, sustaining dismissal of the individual and organizational plaintiffs,1 but held that those plaintiffs who were federally licensed firearms manufacturers and dealers had standing to assert the commerce clause and equal protection challenges. ? On remand, the district court granted summary judgment to the defendants on the remaining claims and dismissed the action.

Arie S. Friedman v. City of Highland Park, Illinois
U.S. Supreme Court
:  December 7, 2015

Summary: The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Justice Thomas, with whom Justice Scalia joins, dissenting from the denial of certiorari.

“[O]ur central holding in” District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), was “that the Second Amendment protects a personal right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes, most notably for self-defense within the home.”  McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 742, 780 (2010) (plurality opinion).   And in McDonald, we recognized that the Second Amendment applies fully against the States as well as the Federal Government.  Id., at 750; id., at 805 (THOMAS, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment).  Despite these holdings, several Courts of Appeals—including the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in the decision below—have upheld categorical bans on firearms that millions of Americans commonly  own for lawful purposes.  See 784 F. 3d 406, 410–412 (2015).  Because noncompliance with our Second Amendment precedents warrants this Court’s attention as much as any of our precedents, I would grant certiorari in this case.

Decided: January 18, 2002

Summary:  Section 922(g) of the Federal Gun Control Act, 18 U.S.C. §?922(g), prohibits any person who has been convicted of a crime with an attending imprisonment term of more than one year from possessing a firearm.  Until 1986, federal law determined the effect of a state conviction, without regard to whether the state had expunged the conviction.

          Visit FindLaw for more information about judicial actions regarding gun control.

National results

Total Middle School and High School Respondents: 6

Total Voting Age Respondents: 38

Issue Poll Summary:

Political followings



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