The History of Gun Control in America

By: Melissa Warren Email
By: Melissa Warren Email

Today President Obama announced his proposals for restrictions on gun sales, and signed 23 executive actions to strengthen background checks and expand safety programs. On the tail of this announcement, we take a look back at the history of gun control in America.

It's always been about the who, what, and where, when it comes to gun control in America. Who should have guns? What kind of guns, and where they are allowed to have them.

These regulations tend to follow major violent events.
Following the civil war, Congress passed the Enforcement Act of 1870 to stop the rise of para-military group violence.

"That is state of the art until we see the next big moment in the history of gun control... the 1968 Gun Control Act," said WKU History Professor Dr. Patricia Minter.

This act received strong bipartisan support following major assassinations.

"Two major political assassinations. Dr. Martin Luther King in April, and presidential candidate Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and of course his brother had been assassinated in 1963," said Minter.

The attempted assassination of President Reagan in 1981 sparked city-wide gun bans. It was the opinions of Supreme Court justices in the 90s to rule handgun bans in D.C. And Chicago from the 70s and 80s unconstitutional, that would leave room for debate over the type of guns allowed.

That's a debate we see today as the president urged congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.

"Today's proposal was consistent with two opinions written by very conservative Supreme Court Justices," said Minter.

Something seen here in Warren County today was an increase in applications for conceal carry licenses.

"For the past two months, we've taught one virtually every Saturday, and I know over the next fie Saturdays, we will be teaching one each of the next five Saturdays to capacity," said Certified Conceal Carry Instructor Phil Kimbel.

One of the things addressed in these classes is keeping guns stored safely, and preventing them from falling into the wrong hands, something President Obama urged congress to address with laws on background checks.

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