Present Day Gun Control In the wake of the deadly rampage at Columbine High School, Americans are demanding major change. They want school shootings to end. They are tired of hearing about the thousands of gun deaths each year. The demand for action, reflected in the polls for years, is finally being heard in Washington. (“Hot Buttons”) President Bill Clinton addressed the need for more gun control policies in his State of the Union Address at the beginning of the year. He proposed many ideas on how to tackle the ongoing problem of guns. President Clinton proposed the idea of “smart” guns. The “smart gun” technology was designed to make firearms less likely to be fired accidentally or used by someone other than its owner. The designs range from trigger and combination locks to radio bracelets or fingerprint sensors that allow the gun to recognize its authorized user.(“Clinton pushes for New Gun Laws”) The hope is that the new technology would protect children from accidental deaths, curb spontaneous teen suicide, and make stolen guns inoperable. However, the gun industry is debating that the reality is years away and very expensive. Gun companies are also worried about putting devices on the market that may not work, or worse, cause more injuries and bring on lawsuits. Clinton also proposed the idea of making tougher laws for those who own guns, along with a harder process to attain one. On March 15th, the house voted for committee -5- action on gun control legislation. It was a 218-205 in favor of a measure calling for a restart of suspended committee hearings dealing with gun control legislation. (“Hot Buttons”) Congress is divided on many of the issues pertaining to gun control. Perhaps this is because of the 44 million Americans who own guns and everyone else. If only criminals carried guns, the answers would be easy. However, the fact is, there are many people who own guns legally and use them lawfully. Those who abide by the laws feel they are being punished for those who do not. The President is urging governors of each state to support his plans for gun control. He would like to see a law passed that requires child safety locks and mandatory registration of buyers at gun shows. This is mainly because the Clinton administration was faced with nearly 30,000 deaths and 100,000 injuries from guns each year. (“Clinton Pushes For New Gun Laws”) Plans are in the works for a three pronged approach to try to tackle the problems of firearms. Through litigation, legislation, and education Congress can almost guarantee a safer country for its citizens. The manufacturers or dealers that are selling guns illegally will be prosecuted harshly. If laws are made to keep guns out of the wrong person’s hands, citizens will be protected. In this approach, young children will be educated about the dangers of guns to prevent them from injuring themselves. There is a definite need for education, and laws that will help to protect each citizen. The National Riffle Association (NRA) is taking a stand against Congress. The NRA feels that it is unjust to hurt everyone, especially those who operate their guns and sell guns lawfully. However, Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo stated that “28 states -6- currently have filed lawsuits against gun manufacturers -- mainly seeking safety devices on guns. While opponents may label this as anti-gun, we are pro sportsmen. We believe there is a legitimate use of guns in sports. We are against criminals who have guns, unsafe guns (Clinton Pushes for new Gun Laws).” Enforcing safe guns is the only logical approach to take because of the numerous people who do not abide by the gun laws. Cuomo said he believes there is a good chance that Congress will act this year on tighter gun controls -- particularly in view of the fact that it is an election year and "Congress cannot afford to do nothing." (“Clinton Pushes for New Gun Laws”) His statement represents the feelings of some American’s. That is that Congress cannot afford to not act. However, Congress is unsure of a solution because it is a case of violating other law abiding gun owner’s rights. During an interview with ABC’s-TV, President Clinton stated that he and the National Riffle Association are in conflict over the gun show issue. (“Clinton and NRA in Vicious Squabble”) President Clinton does not like the idea of gun shows background checks being quicker then gun stores. Primarily because this allows an opportunity for a unlawful person to purchase a gun more easily. President Clinton wants to change this to 72-hour registration wait, but the NRA will not give in to his plans. Therefore, the Clinton Administration had to reroute their plan of attack. On March 17, 2000 a gun manufacture company known as Smith and Wesson, signed an agreement with the Clinton-Gore Administration. This agreement affects firearm dealers, distributors, and other manufacturers. Under this agreement, customers are prohibited from buying more than one handgun in a 14-day period. Customers are -7- also prohibited from buying a firearm without passing an unspecified safety test and from buying a self-defense handgun, that did not meet arbitrary accuracy standards. If a customer is under the age of 18, he or she is prohibited from even walking into the firearm section of a sporting goods store unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. The NRA finds the terms of this agreement very harsh, especially to those who do abide by the laws of firearms. Congress is not the only group trying to tackle the problems of gun control, so are many lawyers across the United States. Many Lawyers are upset that Congress has still not found any solutions. So, many Lawyers are working with those families who have been victims to firearms and attacking the gun manufacturers. Twenty municipalities have sued firearm manufacturers, dealers, distributors and industry associations, seeking to compensate the billions of dollars spent each year on gun violence. A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed (US Constitution). This is the second Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. This statement is holding Congress back from making new laws dealing with firearms. The battle will never end until one side takes a setback, and at this point, neither side of the firearm debate is willing to risk anything. It is possible that the problems with guns in the United States lies in the hands of those people operating them. The question is how do we control this.