The debate over gun ownership is centered on the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which protects “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.”
Gun control advocates believe that right does not extend to ownership of military-style firearms that are otherwise known as assault weapons. They point to incidents such as the Columbine high school massacre in April 1999, which resulted in the deaths of 14 students (including the two gunmen) and a teacher, in support of banning assault weapons. They also support measures intended to curb gun-related violence, such as mandatory child safety locks, background checks on those wishing to purchase a gun, limits on the number of guns a person can buy and raising the age limit for gun ownership.
Gun rights groups, led by the National Rifle Association, argue that these and other proposals infringe on the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. They maintain that bans on the sale of certain types of weapons have not proved effective in reducing violent crime, and that proposals for stricter background checks at gun shows are designed to eliminate gun shows themselves. Some gun manufacturers have volunteered support for safety locks, but the NRA has criticized safety locks for placing an undue burden on gun manufacturers without a proven benefit to the public.