Current Gun Control Legislation
When there is doubt over the meaning of the Constitution, it falls to the courts to interpret the words of the founding fathers. In general (although not in every instance), American courts have demonstrated support for gun control legislation. In a landmark 1999 case, District Judge Sam R. Cummings cited the Second Amendment to protect the right of an individual to own and carry a firearm even when under a restraining order. The case, the first in which the Second Amendment was used to strike down a federal gun control law, was appealed. In The District of Columbia vs. Heller in 2008, the United States Supreme Court addressed the matter directly and found the individual rights to bear arms was indeed protected by the Second Amendment. The Court therein struck down regulations in the District of Columbia concerning restrictions to the right to bear arms, including the requirement that firearms kept in the house must be disassembled or have a trigger lock.
Today, many pieces of legislation on gun control and gun rights exist at the federal, state, and local levels of government. One of the most controversial aspects of recent gun control legislation has been the rise in so-called "Stand Your Ground" bills, which protect the right of private citizens to defend themselves with deadly force. Such bills have tended to be more prevalent in Southern states, where there is greater support for gun rights.
One of the biggest issues facing the United States is the question of how to address different attitudes toward gun control in varying states. Some states, such as New York, have taken steps to stop guns purchased in other states from being brought into the state. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was allowed to lapse in 2004, to the dismay of gun control supporters.
The gun control debate is an important issue internationally, though rarely are gun politics as contentious elsewhere as they are in the United States; rates of gun ownership outside the U.S. tend to be much lower (Canada is an exception, and is often cited as a country with significant gun ownership rates but low gun violence rates). Most countries that permit private gun ownership have strict governmental regulations in place.