From Second Amendment to assault weapons ban: A look at U.S. gun laws
January 28, 2013 -- Updated 2002 GMT (0402 HKT)
The University of Texas- Austin clock tower shooter, 25-year-old Charles Joseph Whitman, killed 16 and wounded at least 30 people from his perch above the university grounds.
1966: Univ. of Texas tower
1981: Ronald Reagan assassination attempt
1991: Luby's cafeteria in Texas
1999: Columbine High School
2007: Virginia Tech University
2009: Fort Hood, Texas
2009: Binghamton, New York
2011: Tucson, Arizona, Safeway supermarket
2012: Aurora movie theater
2012: Sandy Hook Elementary School
- The Second Amendment gave Americans the right to bear arms in 1791
- Congress addressed gun violence in the 1930s in reaction to organized crime
- Political assassinations in the 1960s led to the Gun Control Act of 1968
- Assault weapons ban in 1994 expired a decade later
Washington (CNN) -- Mass shootings in 2012 reignited the debate over legislation to combat gun violence. Here's a look at laws already on the books in the United States dealing with firearms.
1791 -- Second Amendment: Congress ratifies the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which reads that "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."
1934 -- National Firearms Act: The law was designed to make it difficult to obtain especially lethal guns. These would include preferred weapons of the era's gangsters, like sawed-off long rifles or shotguns and machine guns. It also regulated specialty weapons concealed in canes, pens or other items.
How the NRA wields its influence
1968 -- Gun Control Act of 1968: Following the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, Congress passed this law prohibiting convicted felons from possessing firearms. It also required licenses to trade in guns and created procedures to track serial numbers and control imports.
1984-1986 -- Comprehensive Crime Control Act and the Armed Career Criminal Act: These laws enhanced penalties for using or carrying firearms while committing serious drug offenses, for felons with three prior convictions of violent crimes or drug offenses, for using short-barreled rifles and shotguns and semiautomatic weapons and for automatic weapons or those equipped with a silencer.
1986 -- The Firearms Owners' Protection Act of 1986: Allowed licensed dealers to operate outside of their normal places of business, like gun shows, and excluded hobbyists or collectors from some regulations. It permitted sales of ammunition without a license, allowed convicted felons to obtain guns if their civil rights were restored after prison, and banned the production of machine guns for civilian use. It also made it illegal for anyone to sell firearms to those prohibited from owning them.
Opinion: Let's take politics out of gun research
Shooting victim's mom seeks gun reform
A tale of two shootings
Could laws suppress U.S. gun culture?
NRA rejects any new gun control laws
1993 -- The Brady Law: After a seven-year legislative battle, Congress passed the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act, which required background checks for those buying firearms.
1994 -- Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act: Increased fees and required photographs and fingerprints to obtain a dealer's license.
1994 -- Youth Handgun Safety Act: Banned possession of handguns by those under 18 and prohibited adults from transferring them to juveniles.
1994 -- Assault weapon ban: The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act made it unlawful, with a few exceptions, to make, transfer, or possess semiautomatic assault weapons. It also made it illegal to possess large capacity magazines that held more than 10 rounds. The law expired in 2004.
Sources: U.S. Department of Justice; Congressional Research Service
Part of complete coverage on
June 13, 2013 -- Updated 1052 GMT (1852 HKT)
Six months after a gunman burst into a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school and slaughtered 20 children and killed six others, promises of stricter national gun control laws remain largely unfulfilled.
June 8, 2013 -- Updated 1120 GMT (1920 HKT)
The sign at the door of the Colt factory displays a gun with a slash through it: "No loaded or unauthorized firearms beyond this point." Understandable for workers at a plant, but also a bit ironic, considering one of the largest arsenals in America lies just beyond.
June 8, 2013 -- Updated 1118 GMT (1918 HKT)
Much attention has been paid to the defeat in Congress of proposals to ban assault weapons and expand background checks for firearm purchases.
June 29, 2013 -- Updated 1304 GMT (2104 HKT)
Morgan Spurlock's "Inside Man" gives CNN viewers an inside and in-depth look at the issue of firearms -- as viewed from behind the counter of a gun store. Here are five things to know about the debate.
April 18, 2013 -- Updated 1502 GMT (2302 HKT)
The Senate defeated a compromise plan to expand background checks on firearms sales as well as a proposal to ban some semi-automatic weapons modeled after military assault weapons.
April 12, 2013 -- Updated 0003 GMT (0803 HKT)
As Congress grapples with major gun control legislation proposals, brothers and sisters, mothers, fathers and children write about the people they loved and lost to gun violence and how it changed their lives.
April 11, 2013 -- Updated 1245 GMT (2045 HKT)
Hear from both sides of the gun debate as opinions clash.
May 1, 2013 -- Updated 1744 GMT (0144 HKT)
It was a bit awkward the first time Kate Daggett asked the question.
April 10, 2013 -- Updated 1341 GMT (2141 HKT)
Many Americans and lawmakers are in favor of continuing or expanding background checks on gun purchases, but few understand how the checks work.
April 4, 2013 -- Updated 1935 GMT (0335 HKT)
Still stinging from the shooting deaths at Sandy Hook, Connecticut lawmakers approved what advocacy groups call the strongest and most comprehensive gun legislation in the nation.
March 29, 2013 -- Updated 1353 GMT (2153 HKT)
It took fewer than five minutes for Adam Lanza to squeeze off 154 rounds, upending life in Newtown, Connecticut, and triggering a renewed national debate over gun control.
Who should get them? Join the gun control debate and share your perspective on CNN iReport.
April 2, 2013 -- Updated 1524 GMT (2324 HKT)
Before having children, she was a firm believer that guns were dangerous. Now this mother of three has a different perspective.
March 19, 2013 -- Updated 2254 GMT (0654 HKT)
In the biggest fight over firearms since December's massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, gun-control advocates are poised to notch a victory in an unlikely place.
A former drug addict turned anti-violence crusader, and a man who lost his father in a temple shooting. These are just two of many in the conversation.
February 1, 2013 -- Updated 1822 GMT (0222 HKT)
At a town hall that brought all sides of the gun debate together, was there a consensus? Sort of.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1551 GMT (2351 HKT)
The federal background check system for gun buyers didn't stop a mentally ill man from buying a gun, which he used to kill his mother.
February 1, 2013 -- Updated 0037 GMT (0837 HKT)
In disputes over the future of gun laws, people espousing different positions often literally don't understand each other.
Today's five most popular stories