Is There Really Easy Access to Guns Now?
"Just anybody can get a gun now."
"It's the easy access to guns that's a problem."
In a previous post, we covered the opinions of a former FBI agent about the shift in the mindset that make criminals more dangerous.
He opined that access to guns is a problem, a mantra I've heard myself numerous times from people who should know better if they just thought about it.
Harder to Buy Firearms Now
When people tell me there is easy access to firearms now, I have to stop them and remind them that it's harder to buy firearms now than ever before:
It wasn't until the Gun Control Act in 1968 that firearms were Federally regulated.
It wasn't until the Brady Act in 1993 that background checks on buyers were required by licensed dealers.
In 2019, House Democrats passed H.R.8, a universal background check bill.
There are more background checks now (38.8 million in 2021) than in 1998 (892.8K).
There are more firearms processed under the National Firearms Act (NFA) (2 million in 2019) than before (173.3K) in 1990.
And there are actually less firearms dealers now (130.5K in 2019) than in 1975 (161.9K).
So, now Federally regulated, with background checks, being processed more, from less dealers. Think about it, before 1993, there are NO background checks.
Well, still anyone can just walk in and buy a gun.
You cannot legally purchase a firearm from a dealer if:
You are under 18 years old for a rifle or shotgun
You are under 21 years old for a handgun
You are a convicted felon
You are a fugitive from justice
You have been convicted of a crime involving domestic violence
You are an unlawful drug user of a controlled substance
You have a mental illness
You've lied about your criminal background on your form which now constitutes a new felony which disqualifies you
You are prohibited from possessing a firearm through your state laws
You have a order of protection against you
You are an Illegal/Unlawful Alien
You are a Federally Denied Person
You have been Dishonorably Discharged from the military.
You have renounced your U.S. Citizenship
Many of these disqualifying conditions are not just stopping you from buying a gun, they actually prohibit you from even possessing a gun. Hence the term, "prohibited possessor".
So, not just anyone can buy a gun...the FBI says more than 1.7 million denials have been made since late 1998.
We Have Short Memories, Less Access Now Than in the Past
In many ways, access to firearms are more limited than they were in the recent past:
High schools used to regularly feature shooting facilities on campus for both boys and girls shooting teams.
I've heard old timers talking about riding the school bus with their rifle for the shooting club.
Rifles and shotguns could be regularly seen in the back window of pickup trucks during hunting seasons. These could be seen in high school parking lots when kids would bird hunt before school.
People can regularly remember being at friends house with the shotgun over the mantelpiece or the .22 rifle behind the backdoor for pests. No one thought anything about it.
How about neighbors waving to the three 12-year-old boys riding through the neighborhood with .22 rifles strapped to their bikes' baskets on the way to shoot at the orchard?
Most of us don't remember it, but University of Texas college students and bystanders were credited for pinning down murderer Charles Whitman with their personal rifles retrieved from their cars.
In 1990, the Federal Gun-Free School Zones Act was passed making it illegal to have a firearm in and around a school.
In 1994, the Federal Gun-Free Schools Act was passed to provide "zero tolerance" for students who bring firearms to school.
Since 2005 federal firearms licensees are required to provide a secure gun storage or safety device on every firearm they sell.
Many states like Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Oregon, Colorado, and New York have "safe storage laws" which require gun owners to lock up their firearms and separate firearms and ammunition.
Municipalities like San Francisco, New York, and Albany require gun owners to lock up firearms or render them unusable with items like trigger locks.
There has been a massive increase in "gun free zones". Federal and state laws limit and/or prohibit firearms in a number of areas. Government facilities, such as courthouses, airports, and police stations, as well as public spaces like schools and public lands, may be designated as gun-free zones. In many cities, these gun-free zones can extend to private business who post a notice declaring the space to be gun free.
If you want to see the extent to which California restricts firearms and ammunition, yet still is experiencing extraordinary violent crime, check out the video below.
Massive increase in legally limiting the places you can have your firearm now. Massive increase in legally mandating how you store or transport your firearm. Less access than in the recent past.
Harder to Buy, Less Access, What's Changed?
We've had guns in the past.
We've had mental illness in the past.
We've had poverty in the past.
We've had criminals in the past.