History of Firearm Regulation in the United States


We must begin all discourse 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. They wanted to protect the people from the very government that they were founding from ever becoming a tyranny. They had just fought a war to free themselves from one. 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 for nearly 150 years, 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 or to battle with authority that they disagreed with. From this fear of people fighting what they felt were unjust laws, the first infringement on our rights was 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 M1 Garand and other firearms were now rejoining the civilian population, and many citizens were involved in sporting events, hunting and using 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 school shootings continued to be minimal until in the 60’s, when there were a few 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 on a school campus in the 90’s more than doubled from the amount that occured in the 80’s and that 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.

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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