Gun Laws and Control … again

This is a repeat post. One I keep on speed dial due to the frequent need to pass along the information. Here goes …

Gun Laws and Control … again

There is an on-going discussion in the U.S. regarding gun control and the need for more laws to help curb gun violence. So, to help zero-in on what kind of law(s) is needed and where it/they best fit, let’s take a quick peek at only a very few laws already in the books (There are well over 20,000 gun laws).


It is unlawful/illegal:

– for anyone other than a licensed dealer to import, manufacture, or sell/trade any firearm and/or ammunition.

– to produce, sell, or possess armor piercing ammunition, unless the sale is to a government within the U.S. Export of ammo of this type is permitted.

Possession of a firearm under the following circumstances is also illegal. For example, it is illegal for minors to possess certain firearms, possession of a machine guns is illegal, etc.

– to sell a firearm or ammunition to minors.

– to sell or possess machine guns or short barrel rifles and/or shotguns (permits are available in some instances).

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– to sell a firearm to any person under indictment for or convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year is prison (a felony). Possession of a firearm under these circumstances is also illegal.

– to sell a firearm to an unlawful user (or addict) of an illegal controlled substance.

– to sell a firearm to anyone who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to a mental institution.

– to sell a firearm to a fugitive from justice.

– to sell a firearm to anyone who is in the U.S. illegally.

– to sell a firearm to anyone discharged dishonorably from the U.S. military.

– to sell a firearm to anyone who has renounced his U.S. citizenship.

– to sell a firearm to anyone who is subject to a court order that restrains such person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child.

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– to sell a firearm to anyone who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence.

– it is illegal to possess a firearm in a school zone (does not apply to law enforcement or firearms safely locked in approved containment devices, etc.).

– it is illegal to discharge or brandish a firearm in a school zone.

– it is illegal to assemble a firearm replica in a school zone (fake guns or lookalikes also not allowed).

– it is unlawful to transfer or permit the transfer of any handgun to a juvenile.

– anyone who knowingly transfers a firearm, knowing that such firearm will be used to commit a crime of violence is subject to punishment up to 10 years in prison.

– it is illegal for violent felons to posses body armor.

– it is illegal to knowingly possess a stolen firearm.

The above listed are only a scant few of the gun laws and restrictions on the books.

Actually, according to the Brookings Institution of Washington D.C., there may or may not be approximately 20,000 gun laws on the books. They’re simply not sure of an exact number because of the sheer cluster-muck volume and convolution of laws and restrictions regarding firearms in the U.S.


Additional gun law facts

– National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is the call-in instant check conducted by salespersons prior to ringing up all gun sales. No exceptions. Inventory is monitored and records are audited by the ATF.

The background check call is to the FBI and it is for the purpose of determining whether or not the customer has a criminal record or is otherwise ineligible to purchase a firearm.

– 100 million checks have been conducted in the past 10 years. 700,000 of those checks resulted in denials.

– Many states do not require background checks on persons buying guns from private individuals—individual gun owners selling to others. For example, a background check is not required when Sam Spade sells his personal .38 to Jack Reacher.

– In 2016, 17,250 people were murdered. Of the 17,250, 374 victims were shot and killed with a rifle of some type. In comparison, 1,604 people were killed with knives or other edged weapons. Hands, feet, and fists were the instruments used to beat to death 656 people. That’s right, victims were beaten to death far more often than were shot and killed with rifles.

I’m not sure how, other than perhaps stopping the individual sale without a background check, adding to the 20,000 gun laws already in place will prevent criminals from obtaining firearms. Obviously people ignore laws regarding murder, rape, robbery, B&E, theft, shoplifting, bike theft, speeding, drunk driving, drug possession and manufacturing, jaywalking, interfering with police, pocket-picking, prostitution, gambling, moonshining, car theft, kidnapping, and, well, you get the idea. Criminals are going to get their hands on guns no matter what, which, or how many laws are in place.

One of the best means, by far, of removing illegally possessed firearms from the hands of bad guys was during police interactions with known criminals. But that along with bulletproof metal boxes on wheels and black clothing with lots of pockets was said to hurt the feelings of some, so the tactic was basically tossed. As a result, bad guys no longer fear being caught carrying illegal guns. And they do. There are lots and lots of illegal firearms on the street today. The average person has absolutely NO idea of the alarming number illegally-possessed guns on the streets.

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Not long ago, an officer I trained in the police academy was shot while arresting a man who’d just killed someone—shot them to death—during an argument about the sister of one of the two men. Someone in the crowd of cell-phone-videoing, protesting, and interfering-with-cops bystanders took a shot and wounded the officer.

The round severed the officer’s femoral artery before exiting his body via his abdomen. Had it not been for the tourniquet applied and wound-packing by a responding trooper who’d worked as a nurse prior to becoming a police officer, the officer would have most likely died on the scene. His blood loss was severe. Fortunately for the wounded officer, the trooper arrived when he did and a helicopter was able to quickly transport him to a trauma hospital.

This happened in an area known for gun violence that was once curtailed by proactive policing tactics, such as stopping and talking to known criminals and then asking if they’d agree to a quick pat-down for weapons. The result of those stops quite often produced illegal weapons, either during the pat-down or the recovery of guns thrown to the ground as the crooks ran away.

I’m not saying a stop and frisk would have positively prevented this particular shooting, but there’s a good chance that it would have, or another like it.

*By the way, a hands-on workshop/training session about “wound-packing in the field” is featured at the 2018 Writers’ Police Academy. Click the link to view a video of the class. Extreme realism!


Each of the above rifles is a Mini-14. They are the same rifle with the same firepower.

So, what gun laws do you think should be added to the 20,000? Do you have an idea that would prevent shootings? Reduce magazine size, maybe, to allow only 6-8 people to be killed at once before reloading? What about confiscating all guns, leaving only criminals having them? Would that work? What new law would have prevented the shooting in Las Vegas or the Florida school just yesterday?

What if it were illegal—today, right now—to possess a rifle of any type? Would a bad guy say to himself, “Well, it’s illegal to use a rifle, and I don’t want to get into trouble, so I’d better not do it?” Of course not. A crook is going to get their hands on guns the same way they do now, illegally.

It’s already illegal for a convicted felon to possess a firearm, yet they do. It’s illegal for people to rob banks, yet they do. It’s illegal for people to block highways, yet they do. It’s illegal for people to break windows and set police cars on fire, yet they do. Would adding more laws prevent those people from committing those crimes?

Anyway, as always, I welcome your comments … as long as they don’t include cop-bashing, politics, religion, race, profanity, etc. I will delete those statements.

I’m taking a chance here. I’ve always avoided this issue like the plague because it is such a sensitive topic. Keep in mind that I have not fired a gun in two decades, so please do not assume to know my thoughts and feelings on the subject.

Here goes nothing … (my finger is poised above the delete button :).

*By the way, the two “rifles” pictured in the center of this article are air rifles.

Crossman M4 Pump Air Rifle.

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Umarex BB Air Rifle.

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They are not firearms, but they look menacing, right? It’s all about cosmetics, though, and the same is true about the rifles many refer to as assault rifles. They may look scary to some people, but they’re nothing more than a regular rifle dressed up with fancy attachments. As you can clearly see, it’s possible to dress up a BB gun to make it appear as something it’s not.

The revolver pictured above is also a BB gun. You can purchase one at Walmart for less than $50.

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This one is a rubber training gun.


In any situation—good light, bad light, low light, no light—it’s difficult to tell which are real and which are not, right?

19 replies
  1. Wilma Emerson
    Wilma Emerson says:

    There you go with statistics..22% had diagnosable mental issues. Yes, a significant number. This last tragedy…100% mentally ill and lost in the system. How about Sandy Hook…mentally ill and lost in the system. How about Virginia Tech, mentally ill and lost in the system. Schizophrenia and psychotic behavior is not depression or mild anxiety. The horrendous problem shouldn’t be ignored. Depression falls into the 20% of the population…and that is not the problem. Seriously disturbed people like these various shooters have been neglected. The other shooters, are they criminals or just angry people?. Guns laws don’t help protect us from them either. But psychiatric care, involuntarily or not, would have been a major deterrent. Why are we afraid to talk about the mental health aspect? Isn’t that the same as brushing the assault rifle issue under the rug and cuddling up with the Second Amendment blanket?

  2. DJ
    DJ says:

    A recent analysis of more than 200 mass killings (most using guns) showed that only about 22% of the perpetrators could be shown to have a diagnosable mental illness. Roughly 20% of the population has some sort of psychiatric disorder, and there’s a wide, varying array of them out there. Calling out mental illness as the culprit here does nothing but further stigmatize those with mental illnesses, and it is, frankly, hurtful to the millions who are grieving and protesting and trying to find the same answers you are.

  3. Wilma Emerson
    Wilma Emerson says:

    Obviously, passing another law is as weak as saying we should all just love each other. What is consistently overlooked in these terrible events is the illness of the offender. Mental Health care is at it’s worse in regards to preventing deplorable acts. Parents have little to no help when they know their loved one is on the brink of disaster. The laws have totally ‘screwed’ up the rights of the well intended parent or caregiver to care for the sick. Politicians refuse to talk about mental illness…perhaps it’s too close to home? …Because a person is 19 or 25 or 30 and they are dependent on their parents or the ‘system’ for care, when they have obvious mental health issues, that individual should not be given permission to walk the streets, buy what they want, drive a car or frequent areas that trigger their emotional unrest. They need to be managed and medicated. Who had their eyes on this Florida kid? Little is said about his home life or his mental health care. I cry for his parents. The government closed down most inpatient mental health facilities because of ‘individual rights’ and community mental health advocates professed they could solve the problems on a part time basis. How’s that worked out? Let the mental ill decide what is best for them? Totally crazy! Folks, it’s not the guns, it’s not the gun laws, it’s a screwed up mental health system that ignores these people. They are on the streets and, like fast food vendors, their are bad people willing to give sick people access to weapons.
    Right on, Lee…

  4. J.D. Frost
    J.D. Frost says:

    I am in favor of a law banning the sell and possession of assault rifles. They belong in the hands of the military and the police. I also favor banning the sell of handguns. They also belong only in professional hands. A shotgun is more than adequate for home protection. Lee, I appreciate your insight.

    • Ellen Byron
      Ellen Byron says:

      I’m with you, J.D. I would also ban bump stocks and anything that increases quick firepower. On the flip side, I support giving law enforcement whatever they need to protect themselves. And I have to add that I’m sick of these problems being laid at the feet of mental illness while hypocritical elected officials cut back funding for the mentally ill while signing laws making it easier for them to buy guns.

      My daughter is a senior in high school. Since the Florida shooting, she and her friends have spent part of their class periods checking for quick exits and being panicked by anything out of the ordinary. The electricity went off, a nervous kid yelled, “School shooter,” and they all hit the floor. They talk about which current or former student might be their school’s shooter. It’s affecting her own mental health as well as her education. My child shouldn’t have to live this way. No child should. Protect our children, not mass assault weapons and the companies that produce them.

  5. Marcy
    Marcy says:

    Lee, once again you’ve written a thought-provoking article and provided facts. If we would enforce the current laws, be it gun laws or other laws, we would curtail crime, but so often our officers are putting their lives on the line while being handcuffed by bureaucracy themselves.

  6. Lourdes Venard
    Lourdes Venard says:

    How about a law to completely ban assault weapons, which are not needed by any civilian? The one bought by the Parkland shooter was not an illegal gun; it was bought legally. A law that makes it illegal to have a firearm in school — well, that has no teeth, especially when assault rifles are legal and easily obtainable by anyone over 18.

  7. diannefreeman
    diannefreeman says:

    I’m confused about one point–your very first point states It is illegal for anyone other than a licensed dealer to import, manufacture, or sell/trade any firearm and/or ammunition. Yet further down you point out that some states don’t require background checks when and individual sells a gun to another individual. How can that even happen if the individual is not a licensed dealer.

    • Lee Lofland
      Lee Lofland says:

      Sorry for the confusion, Dianne. There is an exception in the law that pertains to private sales/transfers of personal firearms. Here’s the law per the ATF.

      – An unlicensed individual may transfer a firearm to another unlicensed individual residing in the same State, provided that he or she has no reason to believe the buyer is prohibited by law from possessing firearms.
      For a list of categories prohibiting a person from possessing a firearm, please refer to 18 U.S.C. 922(g) and (n).
      – An unlicensed individual is prohibited from directly transferring a firearm to a person residing in another State.
      Regardless of the purpose of the transfer (e.g. gift, trade, loan, sale, ownership, etc.), this restriction applies to all types of firearms.
      – An unlicensed individual may complete a transfer to an out-of-State person through the following procedure:
      • The unlicensed individual transfers the firearm to a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) located in the State of the person receiving the firearm.
      • The FFL will transfer the firearm to the unlicensed out-of-State person.
      • The FFL will be responsible for lawfully transferring the firearm.
      – An unlicensed individual may transfer OR firearms directly to FFLs operating in any
      • If you decide not to utilize the services of an FFL, examine the purchaser’s identification document to confirm that the person is a resident of your State.
      – Under Federal law, there is no recordkeeping requirement pertaining to the transfer of a firearm between two unlicensed individuals.
      – There may exist State or local laws that pertain to the transfer, including registration requirements. Contact the appropriate State agency for information regarding such requirements.
      (*Please remember, these are not requirements, but may prove beneficial to both you and law enforcement)
      – For private sellers wanting assurance that other private individuals are not prohibited from possessing firearms, we encourage you to consider the following options:
      • Transfer the firearm to the private individual through an FFL. The FFL will be responsible for conducting a background check on the person acquiring the firearm. The FFL will complete the required paperwork,
      – If you are purchasing a firearm, record the acquisition in a “Personal Firearms Record,” ATF P 3312.8.
      • Be sure to include all identifying information marked on the firearm, including the serial number.
      • List all other personal firearms in that record.
      • Secure the record in a location separate from where you store your firearms.
      • In the event the firearm is lost or stolen, this procedure will assist you in reporting the necessary information.
      • If authorities recover the firearm this procedure may assist you in demonstrating that you are the rightful owner of the firearm.

  8. R. E. Conary
    R. E. Conary says:

    Yes, there are plenty of gun laws that should preclude “bad” guys (& gals) from getting them, but the laws haven’t worked as intended. Nor have current gun laws prevented the majority of mass killings in this country. How many of these laws have been passed since the UT Tower Massacre (1966)? How many since Columbine (1999)?

    The Columbine killers got their guns thru quasi-legal “straw” buys and acquaintances. The Sandy Hook killer used legally acquired weapons from his mother’s cache (after killing her). The Vegas killer bought all of his guns and his “bump” stocks legally. The San Bernardino killers got their guns from a friend who bought them legally. The Virginia Tech killer bought his guns legally. The Orlando killer bought his guns legally. The list goes on. Guns laws were no help.

    According to The Guardian ( ) there have been 1,624 mass shooting in the U.S. in the past 1,870 days since Jan 1, 2013 (mass shooting defined as four or more people shot in one incident).

    Some say we have too many guns (300 million plus); others —like the NRA — say we don’t have enough. Not sure who’s right, but we definitely have to many shootings. Not sure what the best answer is either. Better gun laws? Better ways to determine who’s going berserk? Too many variables.

    The outrage is simple. The answers are not.

    Thanks, Lee, for a thought provoking column. And for all the professionals out there who have to make split second decisions, those air guns you showed are particularly scary.

    Bob Conary

  9. cnsdotcom
    cnsdotcom says:

    I tend to like the Australian method. They nearly all firearms out of public circulation after their first mass murder, and they haven’t had another one. If there are darn few firearms to find, even criminals will have problems getting their hands on one. Finally, yes, there will always be people who want to kill other people. Guns are uniquely efficient at that. If the vile creature in Florida did not have access to guns and had to use a knife, a lot fewer funerals would be being planned in Florida today.

  10. Tess
    Tess says:

    Okay, so how would you handle the various inconsistencies between states? For example, as far as I know, Florida has no gun registration and even prohibits the creation of any sort of gun owner registry. ( — I assume this is still up-to-date.) States like California or New York or Massachusetts, on the other hand, do have some types of registry (or at least allow for it and don’t prohibit it). To me, that means a new law is required in Florida in order to get rid of the weakest link in the whole chain so to speak. But you said no new laws are needed. Did I misinterpret that and it’s just a matter of what you and I mean when we say “new laws?”

    • Lee Lofland
      Lee Lofland says:

      I’m not saying that absolutely no new laws are needed. Not at all. But I am saying that no matter how many laws are added – one or one million – they’re not going to stop bad guys from being bad guys. They are going to get guns and they are going to use them to kill. If they don’t have a gun they’ll use a car, a knife, a bat, poison, bombs, etc. Many kill with their bare hands. We cannot “write new laws” our way out of this mess.

      Guns are not the problem. The issue is that some humans want to kill other humans. Solve that problem and we’d all rest easy.

  11. Tess
    Tess says:

    You’re saying, “What if it were illegal—today, right now—to possess a rifle of any type? Would a bad guy say to himself, ‘Well, it’s illegal to use a rifle, and I don’t want to get into trouble, so I’d better not do it?’ Of course not. A crook is going to get their hands on guns the same way they do now, illegally.”
    This argument comes with two inherent, obvious flaws. 1) By your very own logic, you would have to agree to get rid of ALL laws. Why? Because ALL laws get broken here and there anyway, so by your line of arguing, that means NO law is useful. Personally, I find that attitude rather odd coming from a (former) LEO. 2) You’re overlooking the cases where laws DID prevent crimes. Why? Because we normally don’t hear much about these cases. We only hear about what went wrong, not about what went right. Laws might not prevent EVERY crime, but they will deter SOME crimes. That’s one of the two reasons why laws exist in the first place. (For funsies, try to imagine what your world would look like if we were to get rid of all liability-related laws. And then, try to imagine what your world might look like if there were stricter liability laws for the whole gun economy.)
    Also, you’re implying that quantity matters, not quality. 20,000 laws is a lot, I agree. But obviously, they are not working (as you have admitted yourself). Why not? Because they’re not applied consistently in all states. Because they’re not combined with proper education and mental health support. Because they can’t be properly enforced as long as those supposed to enforce them don’t have the necessary resources and are shackled to outdated paper-based systems and similar shenanigans.
    So the question should not be, “which laws should be added to those 20K?” but “which laws should be discarded and replaced with more effective and consistent laws and how can we improve the efficiency and enforcement of these laws?”
    As someone living in a country where people don’t compensate for their insecurities by hugging big guns, I find it utterly baffling how this latter question isn’t at the forefront after so many shootings, so many deaths, and so many other nations proving that something CAN be done as long as you actually have a desire to fix the problem.

    • Lee Lofland
      Lee Lofland says:

      Tess, you are absolutely correct. We are saying the same thing … enforce the laws already on the books and/or fix what’s already in place. Additional, overlapping laws will not help..

  12. Bill
    Bill says:

    Laws don’t do the job, so, hey, we tried, right? Slaughtered kids, teachers, passers by — well, damn, so sorry, but hey, we tried, right? The sight of those dead kids is awful, but, hey, if they’d been packing heat, itd be a different story – right?

    Theres a point where we should be ashamed. Gun believers have not reached it yet. Perhaps when its THEIR kids….. or maybe not even then.

  13. Chris Norbury
    Chris Norbury says:

    Thanks as always for your reasonable voice among all those who spout platitudes and “think” they know what the real problem is. I completely agree with you that more and tougher gun laws will have zero effect on reducing gun violence. If all governments declared a moratorium on passing any new laws of any kind and concentrated solely on enforcing every single law already on the books, this country would be astoundingly better off. Our politicians are great at selling us the sizzle, but never deliver the steak to our table.

    Chris Norbury

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