Prior to the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934, there were almost no Federal regulations of firearms, at all. The NFA put in regulations that effected automatic weapons, short-barreled rifles (SBR’s), and short barreled shotguns (shotties as they are called today, colloquially called saw-off shotguns), and suppressors (known by the public as “silencers). There were various stamps and fees associated with all the listed NFA items.
The passage of the NFA was in response to 1930’s gangland killings, especially the St Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago, IL. Gangsters were doing the old form of what we call “drive-by’s” today. In the old Elliot Ness movies they rode the running boards of old roadsters and sedans, jumping back in the suicide doors once the mayhem was complete. This and other methods of mass killing were perpetrated with short barreled weapons and submachine guns, as many were easily concealed under a topcoat worn at the time. Since the notion of Progressive Politics and government intervention in the affairs of citizens & communities had been with us a while (look up Teddy Roosevelt and the Sherman Anti-Trust Act), these attacks made it a natural for the politicians to get into full regulation mode and “do something”. It was largely criminals and their customers who got shot-up, but of course, but politicians never let a few facts get in the way, especially in Chicago. Besides, the politicians were all in the pocket of the crooks in Cook County (Chicago’s home), and the NFA did little to affect their ownership as 1) Capone, et al could afford the $250 registration fee associated with a full auto weapon, shotties, and silencers; and 2) criminals don’t care about law, preferring to operate outside it. The average man, however, could not easily afford that $250 (being akin to $3538 in 2015 dollars). At the time they also tried to put handguns in that same category as the suppressors, etc…but it was not a successful effort, as too many of the public understood the necessity of their having a means of defense handy. They did sell the Full Automatic, Shottie, etc ban, as few needed such thinks for defense at the time, and no one yet felt threatened by their own government.
Interestingly, there was case that came later, United States v Miller, where the argument for a sawed off shotgun came up, and the relevant section about the shotgun was thrown out based on it being Unconstitutional to deprive a citizen a weapon, even a felon like Miller. The gun, a Stevens side by side double barrel, had been sawed off. Part of the opinion stated by District Judge Heartsill Ragon in one bullet point (pun intended) where he threw out the indictment on Miller and his gang, was that the sawed off shotgun, or short barreled shotgun, that Miller and his accomplice carried across state line (making it federal as before it would have been a state issue), was not one used by the military or militias and thus, could be banned, and was not an infringement as Miller had asserted through his attorney. This completely ignored the fact that the Winchester model 12 in short barrel mode was used extensively in WWI, and was known by the moniker “Trench Sweeper”.
Since the passage of the 1934 NFA, we in America have seen the Progressive movement continue to make little nibbles around the edges of our Second Amendment freedoms, and occasionally taking great big bites like the NFA did. One such bite was the 1968 Gun Control Act. Prior to this Gun Control Act, there had been numerous little local laws in states, but nothing extensive federally. People were free to go into stores, but a gun and ammo, and walk out with it. One could even get a gun through the mail, shipped direct to your door. Then in 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald, using a surplus rifle he bought through a magazine advertisement. Gun Control as such was kicked around again for a few years, but both Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr both got assassinated in 1968. Suddenly, Gun Control was popular as two more major figures in America were gunned down. Forget that murder was illegal, and laws do not stop criminals, politicians with their friends in the media convinced the public that gun control and background checks were a good idea! So Congress passed the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA 1968). First they went after mail order firearms, then instituted background checks and regulated the transfer of firearms across state lines. The only people who could sell or transport a firearm from one state to another, were those licensed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF), and at the point of sale, had to perform background checks, as criminals were suddenly deprived of their Second Amendment rights, since no one stood up for them or challenged it in court.
Prior to the 1968 Gun Control Act, crime in America was relatively unheard of, with many people who left their doors unlocked, so friends and relatives could come and go. See, the GCA was in response to a couple isolated, single (however horrific) acts by deranged individuals. It tore at America’s heart-strings, and shut down rational though. So now we have back-ground checks, and restricts on mailing, whereby the average citizen has their rights infringed because of the actions of three men with mental issues. But of course, since that time, criminal activity has dropped to almost nothing, right!? Hardly. As the Progressive movement has further infested the world body politic, bureaucrats and politicians made excuses for aberrant behaviors, and psyhco-babble shops in University lounges have erupted across the planet. Criminals are no longer to blame, but society. Punishments meted out in First World countries are a joke, and criminal activity has increased. But not with guns, right? In actuality, good people have been convinced a tool of no moral character, that can serve either an evil, or decent master, is to blame. The political class that has emerged in America and the world, largely a career of little requirement for intelligence of reasoning, has decided that only those they themselves choose should have easy access to any firearms, and have increasingly tried to put hurdles in the way of the average citizen. To a large extent, the average citizen/subject in civilized countries have been convinced the government and their agents can protect them, and to accept that they may get maimed or killed before authorities can arrive at the scene. This is not as accepted in some countries, the United State chief among them, although not for lack of the political elites trying. Were Americans to objectively assess the effects and benefits of Gun Control, it is this author’s opinion that all acts from the NFA to the GCA of 1968, would be repealed by popular demand. But as people tend to not have time to delve as deeply into topics as they should (being as we have a complicated society that politicians make more complicated by the day), our political class gets more and more brazen, and we, the Sheepdogs of our society, need to remain ever vigilant and armed in case of need.
Since the institution of Gun Control in America in 1934, we have seen crime rise, while political control over the citizens of America has risen as well. The Progressive movement has infected both major political parties, and the notion central to this ideology is that the masses are ignorant and incapable of caring for themselves, and presumes that the citizens of America are incapable of handling weapons responsibly as well. For the very corrupt among the political class, this is but a cover, as they want better security for themselves and the security of their ideological system, as it has woven itself deeply into our governmental structures, and they fear it’s demise and their decent from power most of all. The protection of the system, as in all tyrannical regimes, is the foremost part of their agenda, to which every other aspect of the Progressive ideology must play a secondary role. This has been central to every despotic government in history. The British seized the arms in New England; Castro disarmed the people of Cuba; Mao took the weapons from his people (and issued that famous quote that power comes from the barrel of a gun), as did Vlad Lenin, and Adolph Hitler. In all human history, there has been no regime that instituted some form of arms control that was not despotic. All who espouse Gun Control are not potential despots. No, some are merely ignorant followers of a failed socialist system that sees government as the purveyor of all that is good in a social order, and Liberty as a product that they instill in society, rather than the inalienable right that the US Constitution declares it to be. Thus firearms are a problem to be solved, rather than a firewall for Liberty, as the Founders of the United States saw them.
While these citations are drawn from Wikipedia, the facts cited in my article are objective. However, when reading these articles in Wikipedia, one should remain aware that Wikipedia is an open information source that has many hands at editing, and as such many subjective opinions are in the linked source itself, and may mislead some to understand them as factual when in truth they may not be.