Can Count Federal Gun Laws on One Hand?

Doug Pennington of the Brady Campaign says:

Doug Pennington, with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, finds it curious when gun-rights supporters rail against federal gun-control measures, considering how few such measures there are.

“What people don’t realize, at the national level, at least, is that I can count the federal gun laws on the books on one hand. I don’t even need all five fingers to do it,” he says, quickly rattling off the 1934 ban on machine guns, the Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibiting gun sales to felons, and the Brady Law, which requires licensed gun dealers to perform criminal background checks.

Smart rhetoric, since most people don’t know better, but very misleading.  Anyone’s who’s ever had to deal with the maze of regulations that is our federal gun laws knows better.  It underplays just how significant GCA ’68 really was.  Let’s look.  The relevant parts of the United States Code, which is Title 18, Part I, Chapter 44.  Load that, and keep scrolling.  Does that look like a handful?  Easy to understand because it’s so trivial?  And yet, that is only part of our federal gun law.  Let us not forget, also, that the National Firearms Act is to be found in the Internal Revenue Code, Title 26, Chapter 53.  Keep scrolling there too.   But wait!  We’re not finished.  We haven’t looked at the Code of Federal Regulations yet!

And this isn’t even comprehensive, as I’m leaving out the various federal codes and regulations that do things like, regulate firearms on aircraft, or on certain federal lands.  Does Doug Pennington still want to argue that he “can count the federal gun laws on the books on one hand?”  Could you understand all this without having a lawyer explain it to you?   Even the lawyers get it wrong sometimes.

Hat Tip to Joe Huffman, who takes a similar line of reasoning.  I thought it would be useful to see visually exactly how large this body of law is.   Do the gun control people still want to argue guns are less regulated than teddy bears?

9 thoughts on “Can Count Federal Gun Laws on One Hand?”

  1. “Does Doug Pennington still want to argue that he “can count the federal gun laws on the books on one hand?” ”

    I’d like to argue that I can count Doug Pennington’s IQ on one hand…

  2. Even by name, he left off the 1986 Firearm Owner Protection Act (and the hated Hughes Amendment)…

  3. Pennington is counting Congessional Acts (and not very well at that).

    Congessional Acts add hundreds or thousands of “federal gun-control measures” each.

  4. Pingback: SayUncle » Scale
  5. The best physical example is the recently-discontinued BATFE paper printing of all known (to them) federal & state gun laws. It’s an inch of 8.5×11″ paper, densely printed in small font with tiny margins, making an impressive “thud” when dropped on a table. Considering a “law” to be a single item/sentence embodying something required/regulated/forbidden, it is easy to estimate the total pile contains about 20,000 individual laws (not Acts which encompass many laws). I’ll have to dig out my copy to check the feds in particular, but quick estimation indicates about 400 laws per jurisdiction (with a rather large standard deviation).

    Four hundred laws hardly constitutes “can count on one hand”. My nemisis, tiny individual law 922(o), has four parts (leaving only 1 finger to count on) which could easily take pages to explain. For a more visually striking example, the whole of section TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 44 > § 922 (which is a major part of federal gun laws) can be viewed at—-000-.html – go ahead, tell me how many fingers THAT takes.

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