Illegal Gun Policy in the United States:
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Illegal Gun Policy in the United States: Federal Gaps and State Legislative Contrasts Nina E. Vinik Legal Community Against Violence. Overview of Federal Gun Policy . Federal Regulatory Framework Governing Purchases and Sales of Firearms .

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Illegal Gun Policy in the United States:

Federal Gaps and State Legislative Contrasts

Nina E. Vinik

Legal Community Against Violence


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Overview of Federal Gun Policy


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Federal Regulatory Framework Governing Purchases and Sales of Firearms

  • License required of gun manufacturers, importers and dealers (FFLs)

  • Certain persons prohibited from owning firearms (felons, minors, persons with mental illness, etc.)

  • Background checks on firearm transfers by FFLs to screen for prohibited persons

  • ATF enforces gun laws regarding purchase and sale


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Potential Gaps in Federal Gun Policy of Firearms

  • No background checks on transfers by unlicensed sellers (“private sale loophole”)

  • Gun shows are a particular concern – estimated to be the source of over 10,000 trafficked guns every year


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Gaps in Federal Gun Policy of Firearms

  • No regulation of

    50 caliber sniper rifles

  • No regulation of

  • military-style

  • assault weapons

  • (ban on assault weapons

  • expired in 2004)


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Potential Gaps in Federal Gun Policy of Firearms

  • No consumer product safety oversight;

    gun industry is exempt from Consumer Product Safety Act

  • No safe storage requirements


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Potential Gaps in Federal Gun Policy of Firearms

  • Incomplete records in the NICS database for background checks

  • Omissions from the federal list of prohibited purchasers

  • Limits on ATF’s enforcement capacity/authority

  • Restrictions on state and local administrative and civil proceedings



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Role of State Regulation of Firearms

Fills gaps in federal law

Addresses concerns of specific communities and regions

Improves community health and safety

Acts as a catalyst for broader reform


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A Sampling of State Gun Laws of Firearms

  • State laws aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals

  • State laws aimed at attacking the sources of illegal guns

  • State laws regulating civilian ownership of military-style weapons

  • State laws ensuring access to firearm transfer information by law enforcement






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How Legal Community Against Violence Can Help Enforcement

  • Legal Community Against Violence (LCAV) is a national public interest law center dedicated to preventing gun violence

  • LCAV is the country's only organization devoted exclusively to providing legal assistance in support of gun violence prevention

  • LCAV provides legal assistance to community leaders and advocates seeking local and statewide regulatory solutions to prevent gun violence


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LCAV: Who we Serve Enforcement

  • Mayors, City Council Members, County Supervisors and other Local Officials

  • Government Attorneys

  • Law Enforcement Officials

  • State Legislators and Agency Officials

  • Gun Violence Prevention Activists


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LCAV: What We Do Enforcement

  • Research and analysis of current law and options for reform

  • Develop regulatory policies and model laws

  • Draft laws and regulations for specific jurisdictions

  • Explain the legal significance of existing and proposed laws

  • Review existing and proposed laws and offer recommendations for improvement


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LCAV Publications Enforcement

  • Regulating Guns in America – An Evaluation and Comparative Analysis of Federal, State and Selected Local Gun Laws

  • Originally published 2006; 2008 edition now available



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Legal Community Against Violence Enforcement

268 Bush Street, #555

San Francisco, CA

415-433-2062

Illinois Address:

P.O. Box 7077

Evanston, IL

847-733-1855

To request assistance:

Contact Nina Vinik, Legal Director at

847-733-1855 or [email protected]


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