Assault Weapons and Federalism
With the increase in gun violence in the United States there has been a candid discussion on gun laws. If you examine the many laws that have been proposed, most are advocating for the ban of assault weapons as well as magazines that can carry a huge number of guns. Assault weapons are military style and when they are fired they can discharge many rounds thus if used in an attack then it is highly likely that many people may be injured (Jacobs, pg. 681). Assault weapons have actually been used to commit some of the most horrible shootings. Most presidential candidates especially the Democratic Parties nominees have pledged to tackle gun issues and in most of their prepositions they have suggested ban of semi-automatic weapons as they function just as well as the automatic weapons.
In 1994, there was a law that banned assault weapons and high capacity magazine. The Federal Assault Weapon Ban was passed because of the increased shooting that had happened and Americans were becoming worried of violent crimes that were happening. The bill was enacted as one of the measures that would help reduce crime as the democratic party had promised to become tough on crime. In 1989, there was also a reported mass shooting that had happened in the Stockton school yard inn California and another shooting would later follow in a law firm still in California where eight people were killed while six injured mounting pressure on the legislators to pass the bill in order to reduce the gun violence that was being experienced.
The Public Safety and Recreational Firearm Use Protection Act prohibited civilians from acquiring certain semi-automatic weapons and also banned magazines that accommodated more than 10 rounds. This law was enacted under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement act and many Americans who had been affected by gun violence felt this as a win. However, there was a catch to this law as not every legislator was on board with it. May saw it as an interference to the Second Amendment Right that allowed any American the right to bear arms. Some legislators especially the Republicans had argued that by the government having the right to infringe on the rights, then they were likely to also do so to other rights. Eventually a compromised was reached and that the ban would expire after 10 years unless renewed by congress, thus the act expired in 2004 and was never renewed (Koper, pg. 103).
After 204, some Democrats in congress tried sponsoring the bill in order to reinstate the ban. Dianne Feinstein who was among those credited for the 1994 bill made efforts over the next several years though this was not possible. The congress had been dominated by GOP (Republicans) most of whom were against the law and thus Feinstein always did not get the right number of votes to reinstate the ban. After the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, many people were hopeful that the ban would be reinstated as the conversation again had begun but this dream seemed to be farfetched. When Obama administration proclaimed they would do something about the guns, gun consumers were triggered and in a passing a message so many guns were bought during this period that gun dealers experienced stock outs. It was clear that gun consumers would not support the ban again. Till now, there is no law that has been put in place to regulate assault weapons and high capacity magazines only promises by the government that are yet to turn into anything tangible (Abrams, pg. 488).
Texas is a state that has also experienced its fair share of gun violence. However, they still seem reluctant to pass strict gun treated legislation. Most gun laws in Texas seem to favor gun owner and the legislation in place are often where to have a gun such as laws allowing people to go with a gun to church or how one cannot store a gun in car that is parked in a parking lot. There are no specific laws on assault weapons in Texas. When there was a debate by the Congress to create a ban on semi-automatic weapons, several gun owners in Texas who have assault rifles matched to the Texas Capitol with their guns in plain sight indicating displeasure (Duggan, pg. 789-799). There are no disputes between Texas and the federal laws on assault weapons because Texas are yet to pass any laws on assault weapons.
If federal government are given the sole power to create gun laws, I believe they may do a better job especially for states that have gun policies that are lenient. Federal laws on assault weapons are likely to help decrease the number of gun violence experience. However, this may also prove quite hard as most debates especially gun control in congress are argued according to party lines (McClure, pg. 197). On other hand, if states are allowed to make some decisions on guns, most laws are likely to differ based on the needs for a state. For example, if a state has many shooting from assault weapons they are likely to pass a ban on assault and military style weapons as opposed to a state that has not experience any gun related violence. States are also likely to pass gun laws based on the needs of their residents.
I believe the State government would be in a better position to pass las regarding the purchase as well as possession of military style guns. Depending on the needs of a state they can best decide what laws to create, for example a state not affected by assault weapon shooting may look to pass laws that will regulate who can purchase or possess an assault weapon instead of creating a total ban. Whereas if another state as a high number of shooting or gun related violence with the use of military weapons they may opt to create a law that supports total ban.
Abrams, Daniel. “Ending the Other Arms Race: An Argument for a Ban on Assault Weapons.” Yale L. & Pol’y Rev. 10 (1992): 488.
Jacobs, James B. “Why Ban Assault Weapons.” Cardozo L. Rev. 37 (2015): 681.
Koper, Christopher S., Daniel J. Woods, and Jeffrey A. Roth. “An updated assessment of the federal assault weapons ban: impacts on gun markets and gun violence, 1994-2003.” University of Pennsylvania, June (2004).
McClure, James A. “Firearms and Federalism.” Idaho L. Rev. 7 (1970): 197.