Author(s): WILLIAM J VIZZARD
In spite of years of journalistic and public attention and debate, the U nited S tates has instituted few changes in firearms policy over the past century. Opposition diluted a brief push by the Roosevelt administration in the 1930s and resulted in two minimalist federal statutes. A second effort in the wake of the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King produced the Gun Control Act of 1968, which largely remains the primary federal law. Even this modest control effort was subsequently diluted by the Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986. The Clinton administrat ion managed to pass the Brady Act , requiring background checks on purchases from licensed firearms dealers , and a law directed at “assault weapons,” which sunset after ten years. For the past two decades , policy activity has shifted to the state legislatu res and the courts, where concealed carry laws have flourished and the Second Amendment has been recognized as an individual and fundamental right.