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According to the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, American citizens have the right to bear firearms and use them for legitimate purposes. However, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not an exhaustive document. Some lawsuits concerning wearing, transportation, and usage of weapons showed that in some cases, the thesis of these Amendments can be considered doubly. Such a situation led to the adoption of the clarifying rules at the state level. People created different organizations, for example, the National Rifle Association, which monitor the observance of the rights and freedoms of the American citizens with an emphasis on the gun rights. Therefore, there is a number of the federal and state laws that regulate the order of the possession and usage of firearms. This paper analyzes the legislation concerning the gun rights and regulations on the federal and state level in Nevada.
Gun Control at the Federal Level
In 1934, the U.S. Congress banned at the federal level the possession of individual species and types of the weapon by the citizens. The National Firearms Act prohibited the possession of the machine guns, submachine guns, and sawed-off shotguns. It was due to the surging wave of gangsters in America and their preferences for these types of weapon. The version of this law was adopted in 1938. It banned the possession of firearms by certain categories of citizens, as well. This act also introduced a strict system of taxation and licensing for the most dangerous types of firearms. It also instituted a license for trading and acquisition of the weapons in general (Harwood, 2002).
In 1968, the U.S. Congress strongly tightened the rules of the firearms turnover. The Gun Control Act established at the federal level the main constraints on the firearms and ammunition turnover. This law mandated receiving the Federal Firearms License for manufacturing, importing, and trading weapon. At the federal level, the sale of the guns by mail was banned (Harwood, 2002). The Act of 1968 also imposed a ban on the import of the unsportsmanlike weapons. Since that time, individuals, who buy firearms ought to pass registration.
The U.S. Congress also defined the categories of citizens, to which the traders could not sell weapon (Harwood, 2002). According to the current federal rules, the firearms cannot be sold to people, who have mental health problems, were previously convicted for crimes, and are drug users and non-citizens of the US. This category of citizens includes even those individuals, who are suspected of violating the law, prosecuted for the domestic violence, and so on. Concerning the last group of people, there are some exclusions, but these cases happen extremely rarely.
The federal law sets the minimal age of the gun purchaser. The rules allow selling handguns to persons of the age over 21 years and long guns to people of the minimal age of eighteen years. It is noteworthy that some states determine the minimal age for buying firearms lower than the federal norms do.
In 1986, the U.S. Congress adopted two acts concerning the gun rights. The Firearms Owners Protection Act specified the provision of the Act of 1968 and reversed some flimsy requirements related to the record-keeping and usage of the long-barreled firearms. It also imposed a ban on the private ownership of manual automatic weapons (but not all states supported the power of this law in their territory). However, the machines and machine guns, manufactured before 1986, might remain in the possession of people and be sold by them in the private order. Another federal law introduced a ban on manufacturing, importing, and selling the armor-piercing ammunition by citizens.
Unfortunately, at the end of 80th, the accidents caused by using firearms in the schools’ territory became more a frequent phenomenon. This fact forced the gun politics to turn towards the protection of the surrounding children. Therefore, in 1990, the U.S. Congress adopted another federal act, which forbade carrying the firearms within the 300-meter area around the private and public schools.
At he end of 80th and beginning of 90th, the U.S. Congress adopted the following laws. The Law of 1988 forbade manufacturing, importing, possessing, and transferring weapons invisible to the metal detectors. In 1993, the U.S. Congress established a system of the national firearms buyers testing.
In 1994 and 1996, the U.S. Congress adopted two federal laws, which further expanded the categories of people who were forbidden to carry weapons. Since that time, these categories have included the underage individuals, people, against whom the corresponding decisions were made up during the trial, and those, who are guilty of committing minor criminal crimes related to the violence. In 1994, another limitation was introduced; the rapid rifles’ magazine could not hold more than ten rounds. Respectively, it was allowed to possess and resell magazines acquired before 1994 in the private order (Spitzer, 2008).
However, despite the appropriateness of the mentioned above laws, they are not completely enforced in some states. It concerns such theses as the minimal age, at which the weapons carrying and possession are permitted. A more detailed description of the states’ policy concerning the gun rights and control is presented below on the example of Nevada.
Gun Control at the State Level on the Example of Nevada
Despite the fairly extensive federal legislation, some states set the most of the rules that govern the possession and usage of the firearms. Four states established the rule, according to which, the purchaser can buy one gun (pistol, rifle, or others) per month. Unfortunately, Nevada is not among those states. The number of weapons sold to one person at a time is not limited. Nevada is not also one of the states, in which there is a determined waiting period between the bargain and delivery of the gun. Here, the military-style weapons with high speed and firing capacity are not banned, as well (Open Society Institute, 2000).
Regarding the problem of children and weapons in the U.S. the situation is the following. There are some states, which did not establish the age limit for the purchase of weapons from the private sellers. Eighteen states do not set a minimal age of firearms possession at all; formally, even a baby can hold the gun. Another thirteen states allow the usage of arms by teenagers of the age of 13 – 16 years old. Despite these facts, Nevada established the minimal age for purchasing the handguns and long guns (rifles and shotguns) – 18 years old. This age coincides with the federal minimum for purchasing long guns and is lower than federal norms for handguns. The Child Access Prevention Law also works in Nevada. According to this law, there are some criminal penalties for adults, whose weapon is used by an underage person (younger than 18 years old) (Open Society Institute, 2000).
Only four states in the US have adopted the law, which declares that the personal weapons must be stored in a specially equipped and safe place, but Nevada is not among them. People in Nevada do not need the implementation of gun owner licensing for owning all the types of weapon. They do neither need the permission for the purchase in the sales deals of all types.
Courts about the Gun Rights
In the 20th century, the interpretation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was firstly performed in 1939. The case of United States v. Miller considered the man, who illegally transported unregistered weapon across the state border. The District Court held that by this action, he violated the Federal Act of 1934, but it did not contradict the Second Amendment, so those both documents contravene each other. The case reached the Supreme Court, which disapproved the previously mentioned statement (Harrison, Harris, & Deardorff, 2015).
This situation continued until 2008. In the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, the world heard a completely different interpretation of the Amendment for the first time. According to the Supreme Court statement, not only the militia members could possess the firearms but also every person could use the weapon for the legitimate purpose, for example, for protecting his or her home (Acosta, 2008). This statement has considerably hurt the system of controlling the small arms in the United States. It encouraged more people to buy arms everywhere. The increasing number of guns on the streets is usually associated with the increasing armed violence.
In 2010, the Supreme Court of America declared that, according to the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the non-abiding citizens have the right to keep and bear firearms all over the country.
The National Rifle Association and Its Protection of the American Citizens’ Gun Rights
The National Rifle Association of America has played a significant role in the victories of the rights defenders. In 1871, American citizens founded this association; therefore, it is one of the oldest non-governmental non-profit organizations for the defense of public rights. The National Rifle Association of America unites the supporters of the citizens’ right to keep and bear firearms from all over the country. This organization is an authoritative and essential part of the protection and realization of the human rights system (Harrison, Harris, & Deardorff, 2015).
The practical activity started with the development of a network of the rifle ranges. Active promotion of the accurate rifle shooting as a sport became popular among young people in 1903. The head of the NRA, Albert Jones, opened the rifle clubs in all the major colleges, universities, and military academies. Nowadays, the number of young activists involved in the events of the association is more than a million, and the number of members of the association is up to four million citizens.
The participants of the organization often oppose some legislative measures in relation to the gun rights. The NRA insists that the acts, which it opposes, will hit primarily the law-abiding gun owners while the perpetrators will stay unpunished.
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While protecting the rights of the gun owners, the National Rifle Association also leads dynamical public activity. One of the most important activities of the NRA is the legislative expertise. All offered by the government or legislators (at the local, state, or federal level) measures for the weapons control are considered by the NRA members. The organization’s participants and supporters are necessarily informed via the letters, e-mails, or some other ways. In these cases, the feedback works effectively.
The other activity of NRA is lobbying. In 1975, NRA created its unit for promoting the interests of the organization in the government. The basis of the Institute for Legislative Action’s activity still is the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This Institute has worked for more than ten years in order to ensure that the Firearm Owners Protection Act is a historical law. Among the other activities of the National Rifle Association, there are the organization of competitions in shooting and training, interaction with the law enforcements, militaries, organization of hunters, athletes, as well as work with the young people and women’s groups (Tomuschat, 2008).
To the most important victories of this outstanding organization in the modern times, one can attribute the following ones. The first of them is the allowing of the protective legislation concerning the gun’s manufacturers from the gun-controlling groups. The NRA also is implicated to the federal and state laws about protecting the American citizens from the confiscation of weapons after natural disasters. Thanks to this organization, a person, who has the permission to carry invisibly firearms, can now bear them even in the national parks and other public places.
There is a great diversity of the gun controlling laws in various states. Nevertheless, it is clear enough that only through the unification of the firearms’ controlling rules at the federal, state, and local levels, one can ensure the maximum safety of citizens, reduction of violence, and the greatest possible protection of the non-abiding citizens’ gun rights.