Term Paper: Block Scheduling Education

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Gun Control

Advocates argue that gun control laws reduce the incidence of violent crimes by reducing the prevalence of firearms. Gun laws control the types of firearms that may be purchased, designate the qualifications of those who may purchase and own a firearm, and restrict the safe storage and use of firearms. On this view, fewer guns mean less crime. Thus, there is a two-step linkage between gun control and crime rates: (1) the impact of gun control on the availability and accessibility of firearms, particularly handguns, and (2) the effect of the prevalence of guns on the commission of crimes (Moorhouse and Wanner, 2006).

The subject of Gun Control has returned to the center of attention after two successive events; firstly, the passing of the Brandy Bill in the early 1990's; and secondly, concentration of media on assault weapon. Media is being used, both by supporters and rivals of gun control, to promote their claims. History is said to be repeating itself once again as this process has been invoked several times before in the same manner. United States of America is not only the most controversial country on this issue, but it also has the most relaxed and complicated rules and regulations regarding Gun Control (Zimring and Hawkins, 1987; Kopel, 1992). These relaxed rules are said to be due to the controversial role that guns have played in American History (Hofstadter, 1970). If one examines the history of American government's Gun Control Policy, then one realizes that these policies have less to do with the love of Guns and more to do with the political process. While one can continue to put forward strong claims, both for and against Gun Control, American history verifies the dedication towards pluralism and incrementalism. Gun Control Policy evaluation reveals conflictive use of language and symbols together with complicated methods of policy formulation and execution.

History

Between the beginning of the Sullivan Law in New York in 1909 and the passing of Brady Bill in 1993, one can divide the history of Gun Control into five different periods. While some researchers and scholars have added a sixth period which denotes the attempts made by the Southern States to block the supply of arms to the Black population after the civil war had ended (Kates, 1979).

The passing of Sullivan Law in New York in 1909, which legalized the possession of guns, opened the doors of gun possession to the general public. This law has been passed during the time when ban on drug-use and alcohol-consumption was being strongly advanced. The passing of Sullivan Law has been not only as an outcome of this but also due to fear of increase in crime rates and population of new immigrants

Sugarmann, 1992; 171-179). In the New York City the police had strict control over the use of guns and only the most influential were allowed to possess handguns. This successful control over possession of handguns was being used as a model by supporters of Gun Control; while the opponents were using this situation to unite its support (Vizzard, 1993; 134).

Penetration of the Federal Government

In 1927, efforts were being made to control the flow of guns from one state to another. However these efforts were only limited to postal mails and they did not include common carriers. Congress started taking the issues of Gun Control more seriously during the early part of the 1930's. The then Attorney General Homer Cummings proposed a bill to control all kinds of guns, excluding shotguns and rifles. He aimed to do this by transfer-tax policy and a country-wide registration system, which he modeled after the "Harrison Narcotics Act." While the bill had been put up for hearings, in both upper and lower houses; it was countered by the NRA along with various sports associations and the firearms industry (Leff and Leff, 1981).

After intense debates and arguments, the bill was finally passed with the exclusion of handguns and semi-automatic rifles (Sugarmann, 1992; 33). The enactment of the National Firearms Act (NFA) in 1934 obligated a registration and a transfer-tax on all criminal-kind of guns, such as, silencers, machine guns, and sawed-off shotguns and rifles. The bill had been passed under strong support from the government and some powerful members of the Congress. Despite this, southern and western legislators gave little attention to this bill and by and large opposed it (Vizzard, 1993; 174-176).

The federal government continued to use the interstate commerce authority to further restrict the flow of guns from one state to another. Four years after the enactment of National Firearms Act (NFA) the Federal Government finally enacted the Federal Firearms Act (FFA). FFA required from the gun retailers to not only maintain sales record but also to acquire a license for selling guns. This act however did not include any form of enforcement procedures. NRA, in an attempt to stop a strong preventive gun possession law, was primarily responsible for the drafting of this bill (Kennett and Anderson, 1975; 192-193; Sugarmann, 1992; 30). With the passage of time, both the public and the government lost its interest in Gun Control. This can be due to the fact that crime rates started to decline in 1934 and continued in a downward trend for almost three subsequent decades. The department of treasury not only administered the laws but also enforced it. This was due to the fundamental transfer-tax regulation in the NFA. This process eventually stopped after the Tax division of Alcohol and Tobacco in the Internal Revenue Services where little to no attention was given to this act (Vizzard, 1993; 166).

Assassinations Revive the Issue

With the passing of the Gun Control Act (GCA) in 1968, interest in Gun Control once again reached its highest point. Also, earlier assassination of President Kennedy invoked a lot of controversy over the issue. All through this time, Senate hearings were being conducted, primarily by Senator Thomas Dodd, to augment licensing of gun dealers, as well as, control interstate sales and purchase of guns (Vizzard, 1993; 185-188).

After consecutive assassinations of two political personalities, Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., the GCA had been ratified by the Congress. However, in spite of full support by the federal administration, the law had been passed with an extremely narrow margin. The passage of Bill had also been strongly advocated by a very vast majority of the general public. This public support is said to have had a very strong influence on the final outcome of the Bill (Vizzard, 1993; 185-188). The GCA had several provisions, which preceding gun control bills did not possess. For instance, the licensing obligations of gun dealers became more precise and simple, display of fake records and selling of guns to people who had been forbidden by law would lead to legal penalties. No preference had been given in the issuance of license of gun dealers and everyone had to get registered with an annual fee of $10.

Reporting processes, registration and licensing of people who had been banned from purchasing and possessing guns were not set up to assist law enforcement agencies to achieve the purpose of the ban. While, executive laws had been enacted to help in the execution, nonetheless, these procedures had been very rarely used by the local authorities. In the end, the law became no more than just an outline of proposed policy than an actual policy it self despite the fact that it provided a lot more controlling procedures than the FFA (Vizzard, 1993; 185-188).

Execution of GCA and the General Reaction of the Public

Implementation of laws and regulations eclipsed policy formulation, after the enactment of the GCA. The execution of the policy transformed the reaction of the interest groups, which they used to promote their attempts to unite and influence policy formulation. In order to evaluate the policy models of both incrementalist and pluralist, one only has to assess the proceedings of this period (Vizzard, 1993; 185-188).

The Federal Firearms laws were overseen and enforced by the "Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Division" (ATF), which had been formed in 1972. All through the initial years of formation the ATF had not been prepared, both politically and executively, to enforce the laws of gun control (Vizzard, 1993; 165-170). Gun dealers and informal traders of guns were a small minority; nonetheless, they had been the most vocal group after the commencement of ATF. The opposition of gun control had become more focused in its campaign to relax the laws, while the execution of GCA through ATF had little to no impact on the reality on ground. The opponents argued by adopting the incremental model, stating that ATF had been the first step towards total prohibition of gun possession (Hardy, 1979; Vizzard, 1993; 170-190).

Supporters of gun control also used their influence to present a succession of legal proposals in the Senate to limit possession of handguns in the pretext of limiting Saturday Night Specials. They presented these bills by forming official advocacy… [END OF PREVIEW]

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