Quick History of Gun Violence in the USA

The United States’ relationship with gun violence has been changing since the introduction of guns. The first successful rapid-fire firearm was invented in the 1860s during the American Civil War, though the idea of a gun has dated back all the way to 1364. The gun was never even invented for what it’s used for now, it was invented only for war, and now is even used for sport. Weapons originally only used for war have been adapted to be used for mass shootings, causing nothing but suffering.

The first major mass shooting took place in 1966 in Texas. It killed 16 people, wounded 31 people, and lasted over 90 minutes. About 50 years later, in 2017 there was an incident where one shooter killed 58 people and wounded around 500 people in only 10-15 minutes. That’s a 202.5% increase in deaths and a 1,512.9% increase in injured in just 50 years while having a decrease of 83.3% in the amount of time it took. Even with these large technical advancements, we have barely had increasing regulation.

Even with these large technical advancements, we have barely had increasing regulation.


Even before the incident back in 1966, in 1929 the St. Valentine's Day Massacre was the start of the gun law debate in the United States. Because of this incident, the National Firearms Act (NFA) put into place a $200 tax and registration for a couple of specific types of guns, but this excluded a large number of guns. Then the NFA furthered this by placing a ban on selling guns to certain groups of people, including convicted felons, but this only lasted from 1938 to 1968. After many shootings of important people, for example President John F. Kennedy (1963), the Gun Control Act of 1968 was signed into place by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Gun Control Act of 1968 made stricter licensing and regulation of firearms, created new categories for firearm offenses, and made it illegal to sell firearms or ammunition to convicted felons. Though the Gun Control Act of 1968 is still currently in place, it has been revised many times since then.

There have been some more recent laws passed regarding gun control. First, there was the Child Safety Lock Act of 2005, which was put into place by George W. Bush. This made it so it was harder for a child to get their hands on a gun but also that if someone who is either a licensed seller or manufacturer, you have to provide a safety device with the gun. Then there was The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Improvement Amendments Act of 2007, which just further extended background checks. More recently, in 2017 President Obama took many executive actions varying from more extensive background checks to creating an internet investigation center to track online, illegal gun trafficking.

The long history of guns in the United States have made it hard to end or even minimize the nation’s staggering amount of gun violence. We have slowly been taking steps to strengthen gun control and the youth movement will be our wave to change.

About the writer:

Meghan was inspired to take political action because she strives to impact peoples lives. Outside of March For Our Lives, she is involved with the Northampton Chapter of the Massachusetts High School Democrats, environmental club, along with her school's Student Union. When she’s not taking political action, Meghan plays soccer on the Northampton High School team, takes online Chinese classes, and is learning how to play the ukulele as well as how to skateboard. Follow her @meghan.e.c


Meghan Condon

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Meghan Condon