What is the Law Regarding Firearms in the US in light of the Shootings on the 4th of July?

By Isabelle John

The Law Regarding Firearms

The Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968 is the act that regulates firearms at the federal level. This requires individuals to be legal residents or citizens and to be at least 18 years of age to purchase rifles or shotguns and ammunition.

Any other firearms, such as a handgun is only permitted to be bought by individuals 21 and over. In the United States it is not uncommon for people to hold guns.

Almost every adult in the US can carry or own a gun. It is seen as an individuals’ basic right to be allowed this. This right was written into the constitution when the country was first founded. The only reason someone will not be permitted to own or carry a gun would be if they are not a US citizen, if they have a mental health illness, or if they are a convicted criminal.

Gun ownership rules, however, do vary between each state in the United States and there are some special laws in place to prevent people from possessing guns in or near certain places such as schools. Some states have strict rules, and some are more lenient.

In the state of Nevada, for example, people do not have to inform anyone that they are in possession of a firearm. There are also a disparity in rules for which different types of guns individuals are allowed to own and these once again differ from state to state.[1]

What are the different right to carry laws for each different state?

    • Shall Issue: as per state law provided – upon the completion of a certain set of specified requirements, a law-abiding citizen or legal resident shall be awarded a permit to carry concealed firearms. E.g., state: Arizona
    • Discretionary/Reasonable Issue: as per state law provided – the government is supplied with some discretion over the issuance of a carry permit, however, generally admits permits to any and all law-abiding individuals. E.g., state: California
    • No Permit Required: as per state law provided – individuals are permitted to carry concealed firearms without a permit, for lawful purposes. E.g., state: Idaho
    • Rights Restricted – Very Limited Issue: as per state law provided – the government is supplied with complete discretion over the issuance of carry permits. This discretion is normally put to use to deny any issuance of permits.[2]
    • Rights Infringed/Non-Issue: as per state law provided – the carrying of firearms is completely prohibited for any personal protection in a place of business or outside the home. E.g., state: American Samoa

Debate on Gun Laws in America

There is a constant ongoing debate in the United States on the topic of whether the current gun laws are suitable for the country.

On the one hand individuals who believe that the rules need to be reformed say that attacks made recently could potentially be prevented if the rules on owning guns were tightened.

Several individuals believe that the rules need to be stricter and that more rules need to be added about the type of guns individuals are allowed to possess and have more strict background checks to ensure that people that are considered dangerous are not able to get their hands on any weapons.

The support that these individuals use is that in countries where people are not allowed to carry guns, there is a lower mortality rate by guns, and hence the United States should consider reforming their gun laws.

On the other hand, there are individuals who do not want stricter gun rules and stick by the constitution holding on the fact that it is their right by law to be able to carry a gun. They want the opportunity to be able to protect themselves if a situation arises where they might need to.

An argument they bring to the table is that if guns were to be banned, criminals would still possess them and then ordinary citizens would be left helpless without any means to defend themselves.[3]

4th of July

The police’s advice on firing a gun for the fourth of July is simple. A spokesperson for the Indiana State Police has said, Shooting a gun into the air is not only reckless, but it’s extremely dangerous.”

It is quite easy to adopt the “out of sight, out of mind” attitude when it comes to shooting a gun, however bullets are not special and are not an exemption from the simple laws of gravity. To quote a spokesperson for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, “What goes up must come down.”

  • The Nitty Gritty

A bullet that is fired into the air can return to the ground at speeds of up to 200 to 300 feet per second as per Forensic Outreach (a UK based consulting and education company). This is a slower velocity as compared to when the bullet was fired but it is still travelling at a pace fast enough to pierce the skin and cause major injuries and sometimes even death.[4]

Several of these cases can be seen to occur on the 4th of July. For example, in 2017, a 13-year-old boy, Noah Inman, was outside at a family party where he was struck by a bullet in the head. He was rushed to the hospital facing injuries and proceeded to pass away less than a week later.

Shooting a firearm into the air is not only a danger to human lives but also causes property damage and honestly is just a plain nuisance.

The police are run ragged due to runs where there is property damage damaged by gunfire but with no leads on where it came from.

Statistics of recent 4th of July Shootings

There were more than 500 shootings that occurred across the country on the fourth of July weekend in the United States this year. This was the cause of at least 233 peoples’ deaths and 618 people were injured.

In New York itself, where the gun violence has been at a record high as it is increasing to levels not seen in years, there were 35 victims from 29 shootings. 2 of these victims resulted in fatalities.

Major shootings occurred in the states of Chicago, Texas, Ohio, and Virginia as they are struggling greatly to contain the steady rise in violent crimes amongst others of the nation’s largest cities.

Police personnel were also injured during this holiday weekend as they attempted to break up crowds in the gatherings, as we are still under the pandemic times. However, these were fortunately non-life-threatening injuries.

A fifteen-year-old boy was charged with the shooting of four children who were between the ages of six and sixteen during the weekend in Norfolk.

One fourteen-year-old and two sixteen-year-old suffered non-life-threatening gunshot wounds as a result of the boys’ actions, however one of the victims, the six-year-old girl sustained life threatening injuries. She was later considered to be in a stable condition, though.

This suspect is facing several charges on the account of attempted malicious wounding, shooting into an occupied building, malicious wounding, two counts of use of a firearm, and possession of a firearm by a juvenile.

Another teen boy was killed at a block party which was interrupted by gunfire and at least 12 individuals were injured. Some victims are still in a critical condition. Toledo Police Chief George Kral at a news conference said, We should be angry. We need to come together as a community. We’ve seen violence like this in this country all year long, and now it’s hit home,”.[5]


The United States sees violence on a daily. The right to carry firearms does not aid the crime rate in the country. As seen through the occurrences of the holiday weekend, juveniles have access to firearms too, which are then used recklessly and cause fatalities.

Something needs to be done about this and something needs to be done quick. Maybe not an eradication of the right to carry a gun as it is ingrained in the country’s constitution, but there is room for reform.


  1. “What are America’s gun laws?”, BBC, 5 Aug 2019, available at:bbc.co.uk. (last visited on 10 July, 2021).
  2. “Guide to the Interstate Transportation of Firearms”, NRA Explore, available at: .nraila.org. (last visited on 10 July, 2021).
  3. “What are America’s gun laws?”, BBC, 5 Aug 2019, available at: .bbc.co.uk. (last visited on 10 July, 2021).
  4. Claire Rafford, “You absolutely should not fire a gun into the air this July Fourth. Just don’t.”, IndyStar, 2 Jul 2021, available at: indystar.com (last visited on 10 July, 2021).
  5. Emma Tucker and Omar Jimenez and Kristina Sgueglia, “More than 230 people fatally shot in shootings over the Fourth of July weekend”, CNN, July 7 2021, available at: edition.cnn.com. (last visited on 10 July, 2021).

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