Assault Weapons and Federalism





Assault Weapons and Federalism

Guns has been one issue that causes stirred feelings and reaction. Many people in the United States have pointed out the increased number of gun ownership in the United States and increased number of gun related deaths. Due to the growing concern, there have been groups that have lobbied for the banning of assault weapons as they are military grade and can cause a dozen people to die or maimed if fire because of the number of rounds that can be discharged by the weapon in just a couple of second. Although there have been propositions to ban these military grade weapons, there are a few there are laws that have in place both at the federal and state level. This paper will look at the various laws that exist at the national level and Texas status laws on use and possession of assault weapons.

Twenty-five years ago in an Act referred to as Public Safety and Recreational Firearm Use Protection Act passed by the senate made the first attempt to regulate use of assault weapons. According to the act, the manufacture and sale of the semi-automatic weapons was prohibited to civilians. The act also banned magazines that accommodated more than 10 rounds of guns (Koper, pg. 239-266). Military grade weapons are designed to fire rapidly. It is there concerning that a civilian who may actually not have any military training is left to handle such kind of ammunition. This act enacted in 1994 as a subsection of Violent Crime Control and Law was to a message being passed by the democrats that they were being tough on crime but this was also an election-year package. As compared to the Republicans, Democrats are often more vocal when it comes to gun regulation legislations. Most candidates on Democratic Party have actually highlighted measures that they would take in office to regulate assault weapons.

Looking at the mass shooting that have occurred that prompted to the banning of assault weapons, it was the mass shooting that occurred in a schoolyard at Stockton in California followed by 1993 mass shooting at 101 California street. Despite the ban, the citizens who had already purchased the guns were allowed to keep them. These ban however would not hold for long. The ban was supposed to expire in 10 years unless it would be renewed by congress. Congress however was heavily dominated by GOP thus the act was never renewed and the ban on automatic weapons seemed to have been lifted. After the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting conversation to reinstate the ban begun by the Obama administration but the efforts did not bear fruits as the votes in congress were not enough to reinstate the ban (Luca, pg. 123).

Texas has been a State that has also been affected by gun violence and thus several bills have been enacted in trying to ensure that the town remain safe. Most of these laws however are on carrying of guns such as laws that prohibits gun owners from storing their ammunition in cars in parking lot. However, Texas does not have any specific laws on assault weapons or magazines that carry huge number of rounds, the buyer though has to be the age of 18 in order to acquire this semi-automatic weapons. Texas seem to more gun friendly policies and has also been ranked among states that have high gun related deaths an indication that gun laws contribute to number of gun related deaths. State that do not have restrictive gun policies experience high number of gun related violence (Jehan, pg. 11). Over the past three years in Texas, shootings have been carried out using military-style riffles but no law has yet to be enacted on its ban.

The potential consequence of national government passing laws regarding military assault weapons would be that al states will be required to follow these rules. States such as Texas that are reluctant on passing gun laws will have no choice but to accept these new laws. Research has proven that stricter gun control laws help reduce number of gun related violence and thus federal government would have taken a step in protecting its people (McClure, pg. 197). Federal laws are also often binding and may not be overruled by state government and thus if given all the power they may misuse it thus a need for check and balances. However, many state governments will see this as an intrusion of power by the federal government. The state and federal government ate often at loggerheads with each other on what laws federal government should pass and what laws state government should pass. This may create a strained relation between the state and national government especially if the state government has the backing of its citizens who may be against the laws passed. Most state governments are closer to the residents and most laws that they pass are laws they know will garner support from the state residents.

Potential consequence of state government banning military assault weapons would mean a decrease in number of gun related deaths. Depending on the statistics of a state on the number of gun related deaths, then they will best know which laws to pass. For example, if a state has more attacks using assault weapons then they may come up with laws that will regulate or ban the military-style weapon. However, the problem may arise when the states do not come up with the legislation to regulate these guns because it would not get the support from the residents.

I believe that the national government should have the authority to pass on military and assault weapons. The federal government has the congress which has representative from all states this means a law that is passed is a law that portrays the stand of America and is more likely to be embraced by the citizens. Federal government is also at a better position to negotiate with stakeholders in the industry such as National Rifle Association to know what best laws to implement. However, most laws passed at federal level are often passed on party politics which is sad. Depending on which party is dominating the congress then, one can determine which laws will be passed. A good example is how the act to ban assault weapons has for so long been rejected by senate and congress because GOP has been dominating the house. Regulating of military-style weapons is a grievous matter and the federal government ought to handle the law.

Works Cited

Jehan, Faisal, et al. “The burden of firearm violence in the United States: stricter laws result in safer states.” Journal of injury and violence research 10.1 (2018): 11.

Koper, Christopher S., and Jeffrey A. Roth. “The impact of the 1994 federal assault weapons ban on gun markets: An assessment of short-term primary and secondary market effects.” Journal of quantitative criminology 18.3 (2002): 239-266.

Luca, Michael, Deepak Malhotra, and Christopher Palanquin. The impact of mass shootings on gun policy. No. w26187. National Bureau of Economic Research, 2019.

McClure, James A. “Firearms and Federalism.” Idaho L. Rev. 7 (1970): 197.