History of Firearm Regulation in the United States


We must begin all discorce about firearm regulation in these United States of America with the supreme law of the land, our Constitution. Specifically the 2nd Amendment to it. Written in easy to understand, plain English, Plain Language if you will. The entirety of the Amendment is as follows:

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.

It consists of a preamble, or rationalization for its existence, namely that the Revolutionary war had just been hard won, and the founding fathers did not wish for a central government to have as much power over the people as the monarchy of England had over them, and the people. To protect the people from tyranny, from the very government that they were founding from becoming a tyranny, they enshrined the right of the people to not be able to be disarmed by the government. They did not want the government to infringe in any way upon this important right.

First Infringement:

This simple idea of our rights as given was the law of the land from the founding of our country until the 1934 National Firearms Act. This act was born from fear. The failed act of prohibition had lead directly to the rise of criminal organizations, with frequent news reports of firearms being used to protect these enterprises from other organizations, to battle with authority, or each other. From this fear, the first infringement on our rights were passed into law.

During this time, gun violence on school grounds were very rare, and never was the firearm blamed for the violence, but the person wielding same. Gun violence on school campus did not show either a significant decrease or increase after passing of this law.

World War I and World War II saw an influx of well trained, and well armed people returning from overseas. Men that had used machine guns, the mighty Garand M1 and other firearms were now rejoining the civilian population, and many were involved in sporting events, hunting and using the weapons for personal defense.

History on campus:

The problem of gun violence on school campuses is not a new phenomena. However, the frequency of which these events occur is a much more recent development. The first school shooting was in the mid 1800’s.

The amount of small school shootings continued to be on a small rise, with the first jump in occurrences being the 1920’s. The numbers then again decided to settle for the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. The next leap in events happened in the 60’s, when there were a few more shootings, but the first college campus mass shooting also occurred during this period. The subsequent years saw a steady rise in the amount of campus shootings, until the 90s. The amount of shootings in a school campus in the 90s more than doubled from the amount that occured in the 80s and the count continues to rise in recent decades. Mass shootings means three or more people shot, not necessarily killed.These counts include mass shootings and school shootings that are fewer in the number of people shot.

As an example of the rise of the number of people shot during these shootings, here is the average number people shot at each incident for each decade. (rounded to the nearest whole number)

1840's: 1
1850's: 1
1860's: 2
1870's: 1
1880's: 1 (out of eleven incidences, 5 included people that were not shot)
1890's: 5
1900's: 1
1910's: 1
1920's: 1
1930's: 1
1940's: 1
1950's: 1
1960's: 4 (This decade includes the University of Texas Shooting 31 injured 18 dead)
1970's: 3
1980's: 3 (This includes Cokeville Elementary School Hostage Crisis and the Stockton Schoolyard Shooting)
1990's: 4 (This includes the Thurston High School Shooting and the Columbine Shooting)
2000's: 4 (This includes the Virginia Tech Shooting and the Northern Illinois University shooting.)
2010's: 3 (This includes Sandy Hook and three other large mass shootings)
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