20,000 gun laws...Fiction?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by morganm01, Feb 6, 2005.

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  1. morganm01

    morganm01 Member

    May 22, 2003
    Anyone know where this figure comes from?

    I was told that the Brookings Institute says there are only about 15 gun laws per state.
  2. Brett Bellmore

    Brett Bellmore Member

    Dec 28, 2002
    Capac, Michigan
    It includes local laws, that much I know; There's nowhere in the country where you'd be subject to that many laws, but if you've got 19,985 towns with local ordinances...
  3. USP45usp

    USP45usp member

    Nov 7, 2004

    That is federal laws only. It's a lot more when you get into state, county, and local laws.

    Do a search for "gun laws" at federal level and go to the ATF page to get the others. Quite impressive but they still don't think it's enough.

  4. Chris Rhines

    Chris Rhines Member

    Dec 22, 2002
    Potomac, Maryland - Behind enemy lines!!
    The Brookings Institute, as usual, is full of recycled hay.

    I know for a fact that there are more than 15 gun laws on the books in Maryland, Virginia, and DC.

    - Chris
  5. geekWithA.45

    geekWithA.45 Moderator Emeritus

    Jan 1, 2003
    SouthEast PA
    I guess it depends on the outcome you want.

    NJ, for example, has only 2 or 3 main gun laws, each of which has about a million clauses

    So, does NJ have 3 gunlaws, or 3 million?

    The other bit you can't forget is the regulatory side of the equation, each clause of each law on the books has a supporting host of regulations, figure 10 per clause, so in my hyperbolic example, NJ's up to 30 million things for a citizen to comply with.

    And even THEN, that's STILL not the full story, because case law might have modified, extended, or invalidated parts of the law as writ on the books. (They call this "clarification", for example, no one really needs a gun to defend themselves with.)

    Classic example: NJ's AWB "substantially similiar" phrase would seem to make illegal just about every postban AR clone, but lo and behold, AR's (ahem, XM's) can be found by the boatload in NJ, because that clause was struck down as unconstitutionally vague.

    The other question to consider is whether to count "interlocking" sets of laws.

    Again, using NJ as an example, you might have to count all of the hunting laws and regulations as well, because the way NJ law is structured, running around loose in the woods in Jersey with a gun is conditioned upon compliance with the hunting regs. Although not generally implemented as such, theoretically, being in violation of hunting regs invalidates your exemption*, and exposes you to the possibility of being brought up on a host of gun charges on top of your hunting violations.

    So, how does an honest joe know how to stay out of jail without reading tons of stuff?

    Answer: he doesn't.

    *NJ law is structured such that posession of a firearm is presumed illegal unless you can demonstrate an exemption exists in your specific case. This evil little twist puts the burden of proof on you to prove that you, your gun, and the circumstances comply with the bazillion legal issues.
  6. WT

    WT Member

    Jun 11, 2003
    I've seen no hard research or evidence to support the claim that 20,000 gun laws exist.
  7. Rumpled

    Rumpled Member

    Sep 15, 2004
    I live in CA, we easily have 20,000 firearms laws.
    I just looked at the red book of gun laws that I got with my C&R.
    426 pages - 20000 laws would be ~46.9 per page.
    Maybe 20,000 is a little hi, but not by much.
  8. GigaBuist

    GigaBuist Member

    Sep 27, 2003
    Grand Rapids, MI
    I'm with GeekWithA45 on this one. The number of laws might not be 20,000 nation wide but the clauses certainly do add up rather quickly. I wonder how many rules and regulations we could actually list ourselves?

    Can you imagine what a flow chart would look like if you were to diagram out EVERY possible combination of firearm A in location B in condition C? Way more complex than it should be, and you could start off with a gigantic mess with regards to import regulations.

    That might make for a very intersting project, actually. Something like a "wiki" for gun laws with some sort of flow chart ending in a number of "go to jail" states.
  9. MDHunter

    MDHunter Member

    Jan 24, 2005
    Two Places to Check.....

    the recently issued National Academy of Sciences report (328 pages) that could find not identify a single gun law that had the effect of reducing vilent crime;

    Search this and other forums for John Lott's comments on the report, I think he mentions the 20,000 laws in his comments.

    Good luck,

  10. Art Eatman

    Art Eatman Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 22, 2002
    Terlingua, TX; Thomasville,GA
    I first saw this figure during the "war" about the GCA '68. IIRC, it was an NRA utterance.

    If you figure in the various municipal ordinances, county restrictions with the power of law, state laws and then federal laws, I can see where it easily adds up to this total.

    What's not obvious is that many of these laws differ only in locale, not in kind. Trouble is, the differences in wording means there is no continuity from place to place, even within one state.

  11. geekWithA.45

    geekWithA.45 Moderator Emeritus

    Jan 1, 2003
    SouthEast PA
    gigabuist, trust me, you don't want to wiki/flowchart gunlaws.

    A few months back, someone had a relatively straightforward question on PA gunlaws that intrigued me, and I went to research it for my own edification.

    I read the law, and realized that the normally accepted definition of "firearm" was modified as pertains to that particular section, so I had to go lookup the definition in operation. Then, I had to crossreference it against the exceptions to both the definition of firearm, and the situation at hand which put in play, operative to the question in hand.

    Then I realized I'd gotten confused, and that the only way to sort the mess out and arrive at a definitive conclusion per the text was to produce a formal document.

    You see, the language didn't describe a flow chart.

    It wasn't a logic chart either

    The text of the law described a bona fide, honest to god STATE MACHINE.

    At that point, I just stopped, realizing at that point that executive administration and/or judicial interpretation of the law would be entirely arbitrary, simply because humans really suck at parsing state machines, and lawyers, despite their command of language and logic, generally boff it up badly.
  12. ctdonath

    ctdonath Member

    Jan 9, 2003
    Cumming GA
    20,000 is a decent guestamate.

    Every year the BATFE publishes State Laws and Published Ordinances - Firearms - an inch-thick large-format fine-print 400+ page ~630,000-word compilation of laws the BATFE cares about ... and admits it is not complete, and does not include federal laws. That works out to about 32 words per law, which sounds about right.
  13. RavenVT100

    RavenVT100 Member

    Aug 18, 2004

    Do you work in a comp-sci related field? I only ask that because you seem to know your terminology.
  14. AZRickD

    AZRickD Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Alan Korwin of http://www.gunlaws.com asks himself this question (in a rhetorical sense) every once in a while. Is it clauses? Sub clauses? Can there be more than one "law" or action per clause?

    Alan thinks it is an academic exercise. He measures gun laws in number of words, and his state and federal gun law guide books keep growing and growing and growing with every update.

  15. JohnBT

    JohnBT Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Richmond, Virginia
    I just tried 3 on-line searches of the Code of Virginia. I used gun, rifle and firearm. Here's what I got with firearm.

    9.1-114 (show hits) ..Compliance with minimum training standards by offi.. (1)
    9.1-138 (show hits) ..Definitions.. (3)
    9.1-139 (show hits) ..Licensing, certification, and registration require.. (1)
    9.1-140 (show hits) ..Exceptions from article; training requirements for.. (1)
    9.1-185.11 (show hits) ..(Effective July 1, 2005) Firearms, training and us.. (2)
    9.1-186.4 (show hits) ..(Effective October 1, 2005) Limitations on licensu.. (2)
    9.1-186.9 (show hits) ..(Effective October 1, 2005) Firearms, training and.. (2)
    15.2-1209.1 (show hits) ..Counties may regulate carrying of loaded firearms.. (1)
    15.2-1721 (show hits) ..Disposal of unclaimed firearms or other weapons in.. (1)
    15.2-1731 (show hits) ..Establishment, etc., authorized; powers, authority.. (1)
    16.1-260 (show hits) ..Intake; petition; investigation.. (1)
    16.1-269.1 (show hits) ..Trial in circuit court; preliminary hearing; direc.. (1)
    16.1-278.9 (show hits) ..Delinquent children; loss of driving privileges fo.. (1)
    16.1-285.1 (show hits) ..Commitment of serious offenders.. (1)
    18.2-53.1 (show hits) ..Use or display of firearm in committing felony.. (2)
    18.2-56.1 (show hits) ..Reckless handling of firearms; reckless handling w.. (7)
    18.2-56.2 (show hits) ..Allowing access to firearms by children; penalty.. (3)
    18.2-57 (show hits) ..Assault and battery.. (1)
    18.2-57.02 (show hits) ..Disarming a law-enforcement or correctional office.. (1)
    18.2-95 (show hits) ..Grand larceny defined; how punished.. (2)
    18.2-108.1 (show hits) ..Receipt of stolen firearm.. (4)
    18.2-147.1 (show hits) ..Breaking and entering into railroad cars, motortru.. (1)
    18.2-154 (show hits) ..Shooting at or throwing missiles, etc., at train,.. (1)
    18.2-204.1 (show hits) ..Fraudulent use of birth certificates, drivers' lic.. (1)
    18.2-248 (show hits) ..Manufacturing, selling, giving, distributing or po.. (1)
    18.2-279 (show hits) ..Discharging firearms or missiles within or at buil.. (2)
    18.2-280 (show hits) ..Willfully discharging firearms in public places.. (3)
    18.2-281 (show hits) ..Setting spring gun or other deadly weapon.. (1)
    18.2-282 (show hits) ..Pointing, holding, or brandishing firearm, air or.. (6)
    18.2-284 (show hits) ..Selling or giving toy firearms.. (1)
    18.2-286 (show hits) ..Shooting in or across road or in street.. (1)
    18.2-286.1 (show hits) ..Shooting from vehicles so as to endanger persons;.. (1)
    18.2-287.01 (show hits) ..Carrying weapon in air carrier airport terminal.. (4)
    18.2-287.2 (show hits) ..Wearing of body armor while committing a crime; pe.. (1)
    18.2-287.4 (show hits) ..Carrying loaded firearms in public areas prohibite.. (3)
    18.2-308 (show hits) ..Personal protection; carrying concealed weapons; w.. (17)
    18.2-308.1 (show hits) ..Possession of firearm, stun weapon, or other weapo.. (6)
    18.2-308.1:1 (show hits) ..Possession or transportation of firearms by person.. (2)
    18.2-308.1:2 (show hits) ..Purchase, possession or transportation of firearm.. (2)
    18.2-308.1:3 (show hits) ..Purchase, possession or transportation of firearm.. (3)
    18.2-308.1:4 (show hits) ..Purchase or transportation of firearm by persons s.. (3)
    18.2-308.1:5 (show hits) ..Purchase or transportation of firearm by persons c.. (1)
    18.2-308.2 (show hits) ..Possession or transportation of firearms, stun wea.. (6)
    18.2-308.2:01 (show hits) ..Possession or transportation of certain firearms b.. (5)
    18.2-308.2:1 (show hits) ..Prohibiting the selling, etc., of firearms to cert.. (2)
    18.2-308.2:2 (show hits) ..Criminal history record information check required.. (37)
    18.2-308.2:3 (show hits) ..Criminal background check required for employees o.. (18)
    18.2-308.3 (show hits) ..Use or attempted use of restricted ammunition in c.. (2)
    18.2-308.4 (show hits) ..Possession of firearms while in possession of cert.. (3)
    18.2-308.5 (show hits) ..Manufacture, import, sale, transfer or possession.. (4)
    18.2-308.6 (show hits) ..Possession of unregistered firearm mufflers or sil.. (3)
    18.2-308.7 (show hits) ..Possession or transportation of certain firearms b.. (3)
    18.2-311.1 (show hits) ..Removing, altering, etc., serial number or other i.. (2)
    18.2-311.2 (show hits) ..Third conviction of firearm offenses; penalty.. (1)
    18.2-405 (show hits) ..What constitutes a riot; punishment.. (1)
    18.2-406 (show hits) ..What constitutes an unlawful assembly; punishment.. (1)
    18.2-433.1 (show hits) ..Definitions.. (1)
    18.2-433.2 (show hits) ..Paramilitary activity prohibited.. (2)
    19.2-13 (show hits) ..Special conservators of the peace; authority; juri.. (1)
    19.2-81 (show hits) ..Arrest without warrant authorized in certain cases.. (1)
    19.2-83.1 (show hits) ..Report of arrest of school employees and adult stu.. (1)
    19.2-120 (show hits) ..Admission to bail.. (1)
    19.2-121 (show hits) ..Fixing terms of bail.. (1)
    19.2-123 (show hits) ..Release of accused on secured or unsecured bond or.. (1)
    19.2-386.28 (show hits) ..Forfeiture of weapons that are concealed, possesse.. (1)
    19.2-389.1 (show hits) ..Dissemination of juvenile record information.. (1)
    22.1-277.07 (show hits) ..Expulsion of students under certain circumstances;.. (10)
    22.1-279.3:1 (show hits) ..Reports of certain acts to school authorities.. (1)
    22.1-296.3 (show hits) ..Certain private school employees subject to finger.. (1)
    29.1-100 (show hits) ..Definitions.. (4)
    29.1-521 (show hits) ..Unlawful to hunt, trap, possess, sell or transport.. (3)
    29.1-521.2 (show hits) ..Violation of { 18.2-286 while hunting; forfeitur.. (1)
    29.1-523 (show hits) ..Killing deer by use of certain lights; acts raisin.. (1)
    29.1-523.1 (show hits) ..Hunting deer with sights after dark; forfeiture of.. (2)
    29.1-524 (show hits) ..Forfeiture of vehicles and weapons used for killin.. (1)
    29.1-525 (show hits) ..Employment of lights under certain circumstances u.. (1)
    29.1-526 (show hits) ..Counties and cities may prohibit hunting or trappi.. (1)
    29.1-527 (show hits) ..Counties, cities or towns may prohibit hunting nea.. (2)
    29.1-549 (show hits) ..Hunting deer from watercraft; confiscation of wate.. (1)
    29.1-556 (show hits) ..Unlawful devices to be destroyed.. (1)
    37.1-67.3 (show hits) ..Same; involuntary admission and treatment.. (1)
    37.1-134.18 (show hits) ..Clerk to index findings of incapacity or restorati.. (1)
    37.1-183.3 (show hits) ..Background checks required.. (1)
    37.1-197.2 (show hits) ..Background checks required.. (1)
    46.2-345 (show hits) ..Issuance of special identification cards; fee; con.. (1)
    46.2-348 (show hits) ..Fraud or false statements in applications for lice.. (1)
    46.2-1244 (show hits) ..Volunteer disabled parking enforcement units.. (1)
    52-11.5 (show hits) ..Disposal of unclaimed firearms or other weapons in.. (1)
    52-25.1 (show hits) ..Reporting of confiscated firearms.. (6)
    54.1-4201 (show hits) ..Inspection of records.. (2)
    55-248.9 (show hits) ..Prohibited provisions in rental agreements.. (1)
    59.1-148.4 (show hits) ..Sale of firearms by law-enforcement agencies prohi.. (1)
  16. JohnBT

    JohnBT Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Richmond, Virginia
    Wanna see more? :eek:
  17. saltydog

    saltydog Member

    Oct 19, 2004
    From The Free State of Okla
    20 or 20,000, does not really matter, it still goes to show you that they don't work but only to oppress the good people. :confused:
  18. AZRickD

    AZRickD Member

    Jun 16, 2003
    Posted with permission from Alan Korwin:

  19. Zedicus

    Zedicus Member

    Jun 30, 2003
    Great Article!
  20. rdbrowning

    rdbrowning Member

    Dec 9, 2003
  21. Ewok

    Ewok Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    Los Gatos, CA, USA, Earth
    Part of the reason for pointing out how many gun laws there are is to counter the fiction that "teddy bears are more regulated than guns."
  22. ctdonath

    ctdonath Member

    Jan 9, 2003
    Cumming GA
    How many words is one issue. So far I figure about 700,000 words.

    What those words say is another serious problem. Many of these laws contradict, undermine, or reverse the meanings of other laws - and do so without obvious connection, often in wildly different sections. Worse, they often do not use words as commonly understood.

    A perfect example is the core of New York's gun control: a blanket ban on firearms ... but with other sections subsequently reversing it and each other, and definitions making no sense, like "firearm" not including rifles and shotguns but specifically including short-barreled versions thereof. Another example being the NY assault weapon ban, which expends much verbage defining what is prohibited - then rendering it all moot with one badly-worded blanket-ban sentence which law makers & enforcers still don't realize bans nearly everything vaguely perceptible as "assault weapon".

    The laws should be overturned just on incomprehensibility.
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