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1960s Unrest Was The Impetus For The First Gun Age Limits

1960s Unrest Was The Impetus For The First Gun Age Limits

The U.S. Constitution only provides age requirements for two things: holding political office and voting. It says you can be a House representative at 25, a senator at 30, and a president or vice president at 35. The 14th and 26th Amendments both dealt with the voting age, with the latter setting it at 18. But other than that, there are no guidelines about how old you need to be to do anything else, like smoke, drink, marry, drive—or buy a gun.

The debate over guns in particular has become more fervent since 17 people died in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14, 2018. The revelation that the 19-year-old gunman used an AR-15 he bought legally in Florida has reinvigorated a decades-old debate over whether assault weapons should be banned.

It’s also highlighted a seemingly nonsensical aspect of federal gun law. Licensed arms dealers can’t sell handguns to anyone under 21, yet they can sell AR-15s, which are classified as rifles or long guns, to anyone 18 and older. In other words, the Stoneman Douglas shooter was too young to buy a handgun at a store, yet old enough to buy something more deadly.

These inconsistencies can be traced back to 1968, the first year the federal government set age limits for gun purchases. Before then, regulation for non-machine guns was mostly left to states. It’s not clear whether states had formal age restrictions for guns, but gun access in some states may have followed the “age of majority,” i.e. the age at which you were considered a legal adult. The age of majority is often tied to the age when you start voting, and for most of U.S. history, it was 21, says Akram Faizer, a law professor at Lincoln Memorial University.

But then the 1960s brought the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as a feeling among some Americans that increased law and order was needed to quell unrest, especially among young people. In response to these factors, the Gun Control Act of 1968 established the first federal age limits for buying guns from licensed dealers: 18 for long guns and 21 for handguns. The distinction was due to the fact that handguns were associated more with homicide (and today still account for most gun deaths) than long guns. However, it set no age limit for possession, and no age limit for purchasing guns from a private seller.

In 1994, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act doubled down on the inconsistencies in gun purchasing age limits. This law said that you had to be 18 to possess or buy a handgun, while still leaving in effect the 1968 law’s stipulation that licensed dealers could only sell handguns to persons 21 and over, says Jon Vernick, deputy director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.

“So it leaves us in a funny situation under federal law,” he says. “There’s this weird gap where you have to be 18 to buy a handgun from a private person but 21 to buy it from a licensed dealer.” Like the 1968 law, this new act did not set any minimum age for long gun possession or purchase from a non-licensed vendor.

“You have to be 18 to buy a long gun from a licensed gun dealer,” Vernick explains. “But if instead of knocking on the door of my local gun store, I knock on my neighbor’s door, and that person wants to sell me a rifle or a shotgun, I can be 11.”

Though states can place extra restrictions on gun sales and possession, the federal age limits related to guns have not changed since 1994. This means that although 18-year-olds can’t buy handguns at a store, in many parts of the country they can still get them through a gun show, online retailer, or yes, even a neighbor.

That's History: History shows Canada’s liberal culture towards guns

The horrific school shooting in Newtown, Conn., has given a new impetus to gun control efforts in the United States. But it’s uncertain whether advocates for new restrictions can make headway against a gun culture supported by expansive readings of the Second Amendment.

In Canada, the state hasn’t had to work around a constitutional right to bear arms, nor do we have a lobby group as powerful as the National Rifle Association. But Canada has its own gun culture, and political opposition to gun control measures can be just as effective as entrenched legal rights in causing the government to water down or abandon such measures.

I learned this from a fascinating new work by Blake Brown, Arming and Disarming: A History of Gun Control in Canada.

According to Brown, colonial and Canadian governments were mostly interested in arming the population and training people to use firearms up to about the First World War. Until the 1870s, they wanted to prepare citizens to repel a possible American invasion. Later, they wanted to ensure that Canadian soldiers would be capable of fighting effectively in imperial wars.

There were exceptions to this trend, but restrictions on firearm use or ownership were typically limited in time — during elections or after the rebellions of 1837-38, for example — or targeted particular groups such as Irish canal workers or aboriginals.

After Confederation, Ottawa provided generous financial aid to rifle shooting associations, a fact that led the New York Times to remark enviously in 1872 that “Canada has 45,000 trained marksmen among its volunteer forces, while the United States has none.” When the American NRA emerged in 1871, its founders looked to Canadians for assistance. Canadians even drew up the plans for the first NRA shooting range.

Sir John A. Macdonald was adamantly opposed to state regulation of firearms even though many in his own party worried about the proliferation of cheap, easily concealable handguns. He believed the right to carry weapons was an important component of British liberty. As a result, serious regulation had to await his death in 1891.

The Criminal Code of 1892 instituted the beginnings of modern forms of control. It set an age limit of 16 on the ownership of handguns, obliged those carrying pistols to apply annually for a certificate of exemption attesting to their good character, and for the first time required gun sellers to record every purchaser’s name and any identifying marks on the weapon.

After the First World War, concerns about disloyal aliens, Bolsheviks, and social unrest during the Depression led to more aggressive measures. In 1934, the federal government required all owners to register their weapons with the RCMP, but this move aroused little controversy then and hasn’t since. As Brown argues, most mainstream users possessed long guns, not pistols, and didn’t see the registry in place at the time as threatening.

Gun control reached the public agenda again in the late 1960s when a renaissance of interest in hunting collided with urban concerns about firearms of all kinds, not just pistols. By 1973, half of all firearm murders in Canada involved rifles, not handguns. In 1975, three incidents at Ontario schools, all involving rifles wielded by students, left four dead and many injured.

Those events led the government to propose in 1976 that all gun owners obtain a licence with the support of two guarantors attesting to their suitability to own firearms. Despite broad public support and the Liberals’ majority, the measures sparked ferocious opposition by a number of gun advocacy groups. The government backed down: only new gun owners would require a licence and it dropped the need for guarantors.

There were virtually no civil society groups supporting gun control in the 1970s. That would change completely in the aftermath of the Montreal massacre of 1989. The Liberals, however, misspent this political capital when they set up the long-gun registry with inadequate planning. That allowed opponents to reframe the issue as one of government waste rather than reducing gun violence.

The issue, of course, lives on. So whatever your opinions on gun control, Brown’s book is essential to an understanding of the current situation in Canada.

Philip Girard is a legal historian and professor at Dalhousie University’s Schulich School of Law. He’s also associate editor at the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History. His e-mail address is [email protected].

54g. The Long, Hot Summers

Nearly 4000 people were arrested for various crimes, including looting, during the Watts riots of the 1960s.

On August 11, 1965, the atmosphere in the Watts district of Los Angeles turned white hot. A police patrol stopped Marquette Frye , suspecting he was driving while intoxicated. A crowd assembled as Frye was asked to step out of his vehicle. When the arresting officer drew his gun, the crowd erupted in a spontaneous burst of anger.

Too many times had the local citizens of Watts felt that the police department treated them with excessive force. They were tired of being turned down for jobs in Watts by white employers who lived in wealthier neighborhoods. They were troubled by the overcrowded living conditions in rundown apartments. The Frye incident was the match that lit their fire. His arrest prompted five days of rioting, looting, and burning. The governor of California ordered the National Guard to maintain order. When the smoke cleared, 34 people were killed and property damage estimates approached $40 million.

The National Guard was dispatched to Los Angeles to help quell the rioting plaguing the Watts section of the city. Here, a Guardsman helps a woman safely cross the street.

The urban uprising, part of what was often called " the long, hot summer ," had actually begun in 1964. When a white policeman in Harlem shot a black youth in July 1964, a similar disturbance flared (though on a lesser scale than the Watt's riots.) Rochester, Jersey City, and Philadelphia exploded as well. From 1964 to 1966, outbreaks of violence rippled across many other northern urban areas, including Detroit, where 43 people were killed.

As youths of the counterculture celebrated the famed Summer of Love in 1967, serious racial upheaval took place in more than 150 American cities. The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 touched off a wave of violence in 125 more urban centers.

A quarter century after the Watts riots, a bystander took a video of white Los Angeles police officers beating Rodney King, a black suspect. The event triggered a riot in L.A. that lasted six days.

At the behest of President Johnson, the Kerner Commission was created to examine the causes behind the rioting. After a six-month study, the committee declared that the source of unrest was white racism. Despite legislative gains against discriminatory policies, America was moving toward two distinct societies divided along racial lines.

As the great migration of blacks from the South to northern cities continued, white northerners began deserting the cities for the suburbs.

African Americans had been victimized by poor education, the unavailability of quality employment, slum conditions, and police brutality. The average income of a black household was only slightly more than half the income of its white counterpart. The Kerner Commission recommended a wide array of social spending programs, including housing programs, job training, and welfare. Civil rights legislation became the cornerstone of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society program .

Explainer: Gun Laws in Latin America's Six Largest Economies

While some countries tightened restrictions in recent years, Brazil loosened gun control in 2019.

For many newly installed presidents in Latin America, violence and security are top agenda items. AS/COA Online looks at gun-related legislation in Latin America’s six largest economies, identifying regulations for arms licensing. In Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Venezuela, gun possession is legal for civilians, though restrictions tend to be stringent. In recent years, several countries sought to tighten gun control, while Brazil loosened the rules in 2019.

To get a gun permit, citizens can apply through the Credential of Legitimate User of Firearms (CLUSE, in Spanish). The application process is open to Argentines 21 and over and requires the prospective owner to show they have no criminal record, provide details of where the gun will be kept, pass physical and psychiatric examinations, undergo firearm training, and show proof of income. All prospective owners are also fingerprinted.

The application process for permission to carry a gun requires all of the above requisites as well as a request justifying the need to transport the weapon. Licenses are valid for one year, after which all documents must be resubmitted. Furthermore, firearm makers and dealers must keep a record of all weapons made and traded. Semiautomatic weapons are permitted for civilians.

The government has in place a paid voluntary and anonymous gun surrender program known as PEVAF. From 2007 to 2015, more than 300,000 guns and 1.3 million munitions were destroyed through the program.

The number of carry permits is on the decline. In 2016, just 73 carry permits were granted, down from 436 in 2014 and 9,000 in 2003. A 2017 Small Arms Survey report recorded a roughly 10 percent decrease in firearms held by civilians from 3.6 million in 2012 to 3.3 million in 2017 in the country with a population of just over 44 million.

As an autonomous agency of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, ANMaC is responsible for overseeing gun registration and the gun surrender program. Until 2015, gun ownership in Argentina was overseen by the National Firearm Registry, known by its initials in Spanish, RENAR. ANMaC builds on its predecessor’s work by developing policies to reduce gun violence. Importantly, ANMaC is government-funded, as opposed to the private support RENAR had.

Civilian gun ownership is permitted in Brazil. To own a firearm, citizens must be at least 25 years old and register the weapon with the Federal Police. Only handguns and semiautomatics are authorized assault weapons are illegal for civilians. Gun permits cost $26 and must be renewed every ten years, according to 2019 legislation. Penalties for illegal firearm possession range between one to three years in prison. In addition, Brazilian law outlaws the manufacture, sale, and import of toys and replicas of guns that could be confused with real weapons.

While Brazilians can buy guns, carry permits—authorizing the person to bring the weapon outside his home—are difficult to obtain. Applicants must provide a written declaration explaining the necessity of carrying the weapon, prove that they have no criminal background, and pass a mental health test with a government-approved psychologist. Carry permit seekers must also show that the individual received training to use a gun. The permits are valid for five years. Carry permits are authorized for members of the armed forces, police, prison guards, security officials, and transportation companies. Civilian-owned guns are prohibited in schools, government buildings, churches, and sports complexes.

Brazil’s Congress passed comprehensive gun control legislation in 2003, called the Statute of Disarmament, and then-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva signed an additional decree on the statute in 2004. The statute established rules on gun ownership and carry permits, as well as creating a national firearms registry. The law also initiated a program for the government to purchase guns from citizens as a means to disarm the general population. In 2005, 64 percent of Brazilians voted “no” in a referendum on whether to ban the sale of guns and ammunition to civilians. As of 2015, there were around 17.5 million guns in Brazil, more than half of which were illegal. In 2015, a measure to replace the 2003 statute and loosen gun control died in Congress, but in 2019, an executive decree brought significant changes.

In January 2019, during his first month in office, President Jair Bolsonaro signed a decree that loosened gun control in the country, one of his main campaign promises.

According to the 2019 decree, which modifies the 2003 Statue of Disarmament, some groups are automatically considered to have “effective necessity” to own a gun: military officers, penitentiary officers, registered hunters, collection owners, and residents of both rural areas and of urban areas in states with a homicide rate of more than 10 per 100,000 residents in 2016 according to the Violence Atlas, which is published by the Institute of Applied Economic Research. The lowest rate registered, however, was 10.9, meaning that, in practice, any citizen can declare “effective necessity” to own a gun.

The 2019 decree allows each individual to own four guns, but that number can be extended to six under special circumstances. It also extended the permit term from five to 10 years and includes a requirement for gun owners in residencies with children, adolescents, or a person with mental disability to have a safe in which to store the firearms. The decree did not change the carry permit regulations.

Though not a constitutional right, personal firearm ownership is permitted in Chile for any resident over the age of 18. The extensive procedure for acquiring a weapon includes registering a home address with the national firearm authority (Directorate General of National Mobilization, DGMN), receiving psychiatric approval, and passing an official exam on the proper use and maintenance of firearms. A standard permit allows ownership of up to two weapons. An individual must apply for an additional license and provide justification in order to own more than two guns.

Furthermore, it is illegal to carry a gun out of a registered home address unless the person has a carry permit—another complicated document to acquire that includes additional psychiatric approval. All licenses need regular recertification. It is illegal for civilians to own semiautomatic weapons in Chile.

The national firearm authority conducted a public campaign in 2012 on the importance of the “responsible ownership of firearms,” asking Chileans to voluntarily register their weapons if they hadn’t done so and asking them to hand guns over, registered or not, to the police to be destroyed. By the end of the year 5,554 guns were destroyed, 47 percent of which had not been legally registered with the authorities.

In February 2015, then-President Michelle Bachelet signed a gun control bill into law, including new restrictions on gun sales, increased sentences for gun violations, and changes to gun registration. At that time, there were around 750,000 registered guns in the country. Under the law, carrying a defaced, sawed off, or otherwise illegally modified gun carries a penalty of between three to 10 years in prison, and a minimum of three years for those who provide guns to minors. Carrying an unregistered gun is punishable by a three- to five-year prison sentence. The law prohibits gun ownership for anyone with a criminal history. The law also made psychological evaluations and gun knowledge tests more stringent and also encourages citizens to turn in and destroy their guns.

The solutions are there, and now it's time for leaders to commit to them, writes AS/COA's Brendan O'Boyle in The Washington Post.

Gun possession in Colombia is restrictive. The country’s Constitution of 1991 allows civilians the right to possess and carry a gun after obtaining a license, but in recent years presidents have issued decrees severely restricting carry permits. The Constitution also bans civilian-owned guns at political meetings and elections.

The country’s firearm regulations are governed by the Colombian legal system and penal code. Civilians 18 and older can purchase and carry small caliber handguns and shotguns with barrels of 22 inches or less with a license and for the purposes of self-defense. That said, higher caliber handguns, semiautomatic guns, and automatic guns are all prohibited, except in “exceptional circumstances.” To receive a permit for an automatic weapon to be used for personal protection, applicants must appeal to the Arms Committee of the Defense Ministry. All guns must be registered with the military, which maintains a national gun registry. The armed forces have a monopoly over the sale of weapons and ammunition and issue all gun permits.

To obtain a gun ownership license, valid for 10 years, applicants must pass criminal and mental background checks and prove their ability to use firearms. Carry permits are only valid for three years. Applicants for either the license or permit must prove the weapon is either necessary for self-defense or required for his or her profession. Illegal gun possession carries a sentence of between four to 15 years in prison. If a licensed gun owner is found guilty of domestic violence, the person may have his or her permit suspended or revoked.

Carry permits were first banned in Bogotá in 2012. In 2015, a nationwide ban on carry permits went into effect and has been extended each year by executive decree. Most recently, President Iván Duque extended the national ban on carry permits through December 31, 2019. In issuing the decree, Duque said that, “The monopoly on guns should be in the hands of the state.”

According to the Defense Ministry, at the time the 2019 legislation went into effect, there were 339,160 people with carry permits, which were all suspended by the decree. In 2018, the ministry issued a total of 6,827 permits for special circumstances.

Although Mexicans have a constitutional right to own guns, one obstacle limits gun purchases: there is only one gun store in the country, located in Mexico City. Still, Mexico ranks seventh worldwide in terms of the number of privately owned guns and violence stemming from a battle against organized crime in recent years has raised concerns about gun smuggling, particularly from the United States.

Article 10 of the Mexican Constitution entitles the country’s citizens to own guns. After civil unrest and the student movements of the late 1960s, a 1971 reform to the constitution made Article 10 more restrictive citizens were limited to gun ownership at home, while the right to carry weapons—whether openly or concealed—became restricted to federal jurisdiction.

Citizens can largely carry handguns, shotguns, and rifles below specific calibers. Gun ownership requires obtaining a one-year gun permit from the Secretariat of National Defense within 30 days of acquisition. A gun owner must belong to a shooting club to get a permit, can get permits for up to 10 weapons, and can only purchase ammunition for the calibers of guns owned. Other requirements include being 18 years of age, having mental and physical capacity to operate a gun, holding no criminal convictions, and fulfillment of military service. Private sale of guns is allowed, and subject to the same gun-permit laws. A separate permit is needed for a citizen to carry a weapon outside of a residence, and involves requirements such as an occupational necessity (for example, employees of security firms or rural workers).

Aside from the low registry rates, arms smuggling remains a major concern, given that tens of thousands have died since the Mexican government ramped up its fight against organized crime. Mexico may only have one gun shop, but there are over 50,000 gun retailers just across the border in the United States.

With few limits on ammunition sales in the United States, the smuggling of bullets into Mexico is another challenge. From 2009 to 2014, close to 74,000 weapons captured in Mexico were traced back to the United States—about 70 percent of all guns seized. A 2011 study published by the University of Notre Dame estimates that the 2004 expiration of the U.S. Federal Assault Weapons Ban led to a 16.4 percent increase in Mexico’s homicide rate between 2004 and 2008.

In 2015, the country’s legislature approved changes to the country’s Federal Law of Firearms and Explosives introduced by President Enrique Peña Nieto. It allows foreigners who work in customs, immigration, or high-level government security agents to carry guns in Mexico, as well as allowing Mexican officials in the same areas to carry guns abroad. Another bill signed by Peña Nieto that same year made the possession of gun cartridges and magazines illegal and increased penalties to two and five years in prison, as well as raised fines.

Two months after her election in 2018, Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum started the “Yes to disarmament, yes to peace” program. In its first two weeks, citizens turned in 457 firearms and 438,000 cartridges. Citizens can participate in the voluntary disarmament campaign in the city and exchange firearms for toys or financial compensation of up to $939. The goal is to collect 5,000 guns by the time its $1 million budget is spent.

Since 2015, Venezuela has seen an erosion of rule of law and an increase in violence. Estimates by the Venezuelan Violence Observatory pointed to just under 27,900 killings in 2016, 12,800 of which were gun-related.

Under Venezuelan law on the books, gun possession by civilians is supposed to be restricted but not guaranteed. In 2002, Congress passed the Law of Disarmament, which established guidelines for collecting illegal weapons and banned guns in places where alcohol is served as well as public meeting places.

Due to escalating gun violence, then-President Hugo Chávez set up the Presidential Commission on Disarmament in 2011, launching a public disarmament effort that saw over 130,000 illegal weapons surrendered that year alone. The commission issued a resolution in February 2012 banning the sale of all firearms and ammunition to civilians. It also imposed a one-year moratorium on commercial gun imports and the issuing of gun-carry permits. The rule went into effect in June 2012, allowing only the army, police, and security companies to legally buy weapons. In 2011, the commission also issued resolutions banning guns on public transportation, construction sites, and cultural and sporting events.

In June 2013, President Nicolás Maduro signed the Law of Disarmament and Arms and Munitions Control, and he later established further regulations in 2014. The law raised the age of gun possession to 25, and requires applicants to have a clean record, a psychological exam, training certification, and proof of legal purchase. For personal defense, civilians must renew gun permits every two years and are allowed only one gun with 50 bullets per year. The law also suspended non-government gun sales and the emission of new gun permits for two years.

In the legislation, Maduro established a new disarmament campaign to provide incentives for civilians to give up their guns. Close to 8,000 guns were turned in or confiscated in 2015 and more than 26,000 guns were destroyed in 2014, when the country registered the second highest homicide rate in the world.

But just a few years later, in 2017, Maduro reversed course and announced he would arm his loyalists with 400,000 guns to protect the country from what he said was a possible U.S.-backed coup. The Small Arms Survey from the same year estimated there were roughly 353,000 firearms in military control and a total of 5.8 million firearms in civilian hands in the country of roughly 30 million. In 2018 and 2019, over 7,000 deaths were attributed to “resistance to authority,” in a context of increased state violence and reports of intimidation and arbitrary gun deaths perpetrated by police and military forces.

This explainer was originally published in January 2013. Fernanda Nunes contributed to the March 2019 update.


Fully automatic & submachine-guns, etc. are "prohibited weapons" [14] and require explicit permission from central government to own. Generally, such permits are not available to private citizens. Semi-automatic rifles over .22 in (5.6 mm) and pistols are similarly generally "prohibited", although there are exceptions for pistols for use for the humane dispatch of animals (classed under section 5). There are also very limited exceptions for pistols both to preserve firearms of historic or technical interest (classed as section 7 firearms) [15] and to enable use by elite sports teams. Semi-automatic shotguns are restricted to a magazine capacity of no more than two shot and is held under Section 2 of the Firearms Act, although a 'multi-shot' shotgun can be owned under section 1 (restricted firearms and ammunition) of the Firearms Act. Where the term 'multi-shot' is used, this refers to either a semi-automatic or pump action shotgun with no restriction on magazine capacity. [16] All other rifles and their ammunition are permitted with no limits as to magazine size, to include: target shooting, hunting, and historic and muzzle-loading weapons, as well as long-barrelled breech-loading pistols with a specific overall length, but not for self-defence however if a home-owner is threatened they may be used in self-defence, so long as the force is reasonable. [17] Shotgun possession and use is controlled, and even low-power air rifles and pistols, while permitted, are controlled to some extent. A Firearm Certificate issued by the police is required for all weapons and ammunition except air weapons of modest power (of muzzle energy not over 12 ft⋅lbf (16 J) for rifles, and 6 ft⋅lbf (8.1 J) for pistols). Shotguns with a capacity of three rounds or less (up to guns with a magazine holding no more than two rounds, in addition to one in the chamber) are subject to less stringent licensing requirements than other firearms and require a shotgun certificate shotguns with higher capacity require a Firearm Certificate.

Possession of live firearm rounds can lead to severe penalties. Ammunition for firearms may only be purchased and possessed with the authority of a Firearm Certificate containing a firearm capable of shooting that specific ammunition. Shotgun cartridges can legally be possessed by anybody over the age of 15 and no licence is required to possess such ammunition so long as the cartridges contain 5 or more shots. [18] However, a shotgun certificate must be shown at time of purchase. [19]

While Scotland has had its own parliament (Holyrood) since the Scotland Act 1998, power to legislate on firearms was reserved to Westminster, which led to tensions between the British and Scottish parliaments, with the Scottish government wanting to enact stricter laws. [20]

In Northern Ireland, firearms control laws are primarily regulated by the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004, slightly different from the law in Great Britain.

Rifles Edit

UK law defines a "rifle" as a rifled firearm with a barrel longer than 30 cm (12 in), and a total length longer than 60 cm (24 in). Single-shot, bolt-action, Martini-action, lever-action (also called under-lever action) and revolver rifles and carbines are permitted, with certificate, in any calibre. Self-loading (also known as semi-automatic) or pump-action rifles are only permitted in .22 rimfire calibre.

Pistols Edit

The 1997 law did not ban pistols as such and was drafted in terms of small firearms. [21] : 3.2 British law defines a "pistol" as a firearm with a barrel shorter than 30 cm (12 in) or a total length of less than 60 cm (24 in) [22] (this definition encompasses revolvers, revolving pistols). Only muzzle-loading pistols—including muzzle-loading revolvers—are permitted in practice all such firearms use black powder—a Class 1 explosive—as the propellant. Small quantities of muzzle-loading pistols and revolvers in various calibres, which comply with the regulations, are manufactured. [23] All other pistols are mostly prohibited in Great Britain, with some exceptions such as pistols used for the humane dispatch of injured animals (such as deer) and some historical firearms.

This law created a new market for "Long-barrelled revolvers" and "long-barrelled pistols", firearms with a permanently attached extension to the grip, making them long enough to fit under the legal definition of a rifle. Long-barrelled pistols/revolvers in single-shot of any calibre, or semi-automatic in .22 rimfire, are all permitted with FAC. [24]

Specific models of blank-firing starting pistol that are "readily convertible" to fire live ammunition may also be either banned or require a FAC. The Bruni Olympic .380 BBM blank-firing revolver was banned in 2010 on evidence that it was being illegally converted. [25] [26]

Shotguns Edit

Single-, double-, or triple-barrelled shotguns, or those with a lever-action or, pump-action, or semi-automatic and fixed magazine capacity of no more than three (2 in the magazine and one in the chamber) cartridges are permitted on a Shotgun Certificate as long as they meet the criteria of having a minimum barrel length of 24" and overall length of 40". There is no limit on the number of guns or amount of ammunition that a SGC (shotgun certificate) holder can acquire or possess at one time, although each shotgun is recorded on the certificates. Types of shotgun ammunition, such as solid slugs can only be bought following the grant of an FAC (Firearm Certificate). Shotguns with a detachable magazine or larger fixed magazine are considered firearms permitted on a Section 1 Firearm Certificate (24" rule and 40" fixed overall length) or break action shotguns with a minimum 12" barrel and overall 24" fixed length.

Airguns Edit

Airguns are firearms like any other according to the definition given in the Firearms Act 1968 at section 57(1). [27] However, with the exception of Scotland where a certificate is now required, they are exempt from the requirement that a Firearm Certificate or Shotgun Certificate need be obtained to possess or acquire them provided that they meet certain limits as to their power.

Air pistols with a muzzle energy not exceeding 6 foot-pounds force (8.1 joules) and other airguns with a muzzle energy not exceeding 12 ft⋅lbf (16 J) do not require a certificate and may be acquired, purchased and possessed by anyone over the age of 18 and who is not a prohibited person as specified in section 21 of the Act which relates to persons previously convicted of crime. [28]

The UK Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 controls online or mail-order sales of airguns by way of trade or business transactions must be finalised face-to-face although the contract of sale may take place at a distance. [29] The airgun may be sent by the seller to a Registered Firearms Dealer (who will act as the sellers agent in the sale) from whom the gun may be collected by the purchaser.

The same Act introduced the requirement that a person selling airguns or ammunition for airguns by way of trade or business be a Registered Firearms Dealer. [30] It is not an offence for a private individual to sell an airgun to another person as long as both parties are not legally barred from possessing airguns and the transaction does not constitute a business activity.

It became a crime to fire an air weapon beyond the boundary of any premises without the occupier's permission, and increased the lower age limit for buying or possessing an air weapon to 18 years. [31]

From 10 February 2011 the Crime & Security Act 2010 (S.46) made it an offence "for a person in possession of an air weapon to fail to take reasonable precautions to prevent any person under the age of eighteen from having the weapon with him". [32]

Any person who is in a building or is on land as a trespasser whilst having a firearm with them commits the offence of trespassing with a firearm. [33] It is immaterial whether or not they have any ammunition with them at the time or whether they actually intend to use it at the place in which they were trespassing.

Ammunition Edit

Explosive, incendiary, noxious (biological, chemical) and armour-piercing ammunition types are "prohibited" for civilians. [14] The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 (Section 9) generally prohibited expanding ammunition, but this conflicted with the Deer Act 1991 (which mandated its use for deer stalking). [34] [35] An exemption permitted the acquisition and possession of expanding ammunition on Firearm Certificates held for game shooting or deer-stalking but not target shooting. Section 219 of the Policing and Crime Act 2017 modified the 1997 Act to only apply to Pistol ammunition. [36] The distinction is no longer made for rifles and expanding ammunition may be used for target shooting. The quantity of ammunition a Certificate Holder may possess is determined by Certificate conditions on a per-calibre basis.

Shotgun Cartridges are not restricted by certificate conditions and a Shotgun Certificate holder may acquire and possess as many as they like. Due to their bulky nature, normal shotgun cartridges are not subject to the same secure storage requirements as Section 1 ammunition. Solid slugs or cartridges containing fewer than 5 projectiles which are considered Section 1 and must be held on a Firearm Certificate.

Prohibited firearms Edit

The following are generally prohibited: [37] [38]

  • Fully automatic or burst-fire weapons, which may include some air guns.
  • Semi-automatic or pump-action rifles that fire centre-fire ammunition (e.g. Ruger Mini-14, L1A1)
  • Manually Actuated Release System Rifles (M.A.R.S) and Lever Release Rifles (not to be confused with Lever Action)
  • Cartridge-ammunition handguns, regardless of calibre
  • Firearms disguised as another item (e.g. walking sticks, mobile telephones, etc.)
  • Rockets and mortars.
  • Air guns chambered for self-contained gas cartridges. (Existing owners prior to 20 January 2004 were allowed ownership subject to obtaining a firearm certificate)
  • Any weapon of whatever description designed or adapted for the discharge of any noxious liquid, gas or other substance. This would generally include stun guns, or electric shock devices, CS gas (tear gas), OC spray (pepper spray), etc.. Cattle prods would not generally be included, but it would depend on the type.

Firearms that previously fell into a prohibited category can not be made legal if converted into an otherwise permitted form. For example, a pistol which is adapted by permanently fitting a 60-centimetre (24 in) long smooth-bore barrel to it does not thereby become permitted. [21] : 2.29

With a few specialised exceptions, all firearms in the United Kingdom must be licensed on either a 5-year firearm certificate (FAC) [39] or a shotgun certificate (SGC) issued by the police for the area in which they normally reside. Each certificate can list multiple firearms. [40]

Shotguns (Section 2 Firearms under the 1968 Act as amended) are defined in UK law as smoothbore firearms with barrels not shorter than 24 inches (61 cm) and a bore not larger than 2 inches (5.1 cm) in diameter, no revolving cylinder, and either no magazine or a non-detachable magazine that is not capable of holding more than two cartridges, [21] plus one in the chamber shotguns with higher capacity require a firearm certificate. Shotguns thus defined are subject to a less rigorous certification process than for the full FAC an applicant is not required by law to make a good case for being granted a certificate, but the police may withhold a certificate if they consider that the applicant does not have satisfactory security in place, or granting it would constitute a danger to public safety or to the peace. [41] A certificate holder may possess as many shotguns as can be securely stored.

When applying for a firearm certificate, justification must be provided to the police for each firearm, and they are individually listed on the certificate by type, calibre, and serial number. A shotgun certificate similarly lists type, calibre and serial number, but permits possession of as many shotguns as can be safely accommodated. To gain permission for a new firearm, a "variation" must be sought, for a fee, unless the variation is made at the time of renewal, or unless it constitutes a one-for-one replacement of an existing firearm that will be disposed of. The certificate also sets out, by calibre, the maximum quantities of ammunition someone may possess at any one time, and is used to record ammunition purchases (except where ammunition is bought to use immediately on a range under s11 or s15 of the Firearms Act).

To obtain a firearm certificate, the police must be satisfied that a person has "good reason" to own each firearm, and that they can be trusted with it "without danger to the public safety or to the peace". Under Home Office guidelines, Firearm Certificates are only issued if a person has legitimate sporting, collecting, or work-related reasons for ownership. Since 1968, self-defence has not been considered a valid reason to own a firearm. [42] The current licensing procedure involves: positive verification of identity, two referees of verifiable good character who have known the applicant for at least two years (and who may themselves be interviewed and/or investigated as part of the certification), approval of the application by the applicant's own family doctor, an inspection of the premises and cabinet where firearms will be kept and a face-to-face interview by a Firearms Enquiry Officer (FEO) also known as a Firearms Liaison Officer (FLO). A thorough background check of the applicant is then made by Special Branch on behalf of the firearms licensing department. Only when all these stages have been satisfactorily completed will a licence be issued, which must be renewed every 5 years.

Any person who has been sentenced to between three months and three years in prison is automatically prohibited from possessing firearms (including airguns) and ammunition for five years from release. A person who has been sentenced to more than three years is prohibited for life. [28] Application may be made to a court to reverse these prohibitions and this is likely to be successful in relation to convictions for crimes which do not relate to a person's fitness to possess firearms. Similarly, persons applying for licences with recent, serious mental health issues will also be refused a certificate.

Any person holding a Firearm or Shotgun Certificate must comply with strict storage conditions by storing their firearms/shotguns in a safe bolted to the floor or wall that complies to the standard BS 7558:1992. [43] [44] These storage arrangements are checked by the police before a licence is first granted, and on every renewal of the licence.

In the case of a firearm certificate the issuing police force may impose additional conditions over and above the statutory ones. However any condition appended to a certificate must be reasonable and must not be of such a restrictive nature as would amount to a constructive refusal to grant the certificate by making use so unlikely as to be practically impossible. Failure to comply with any of these conditions can result in criminal prosecution resulting in a prison sentence of up to six months. Revocation of the certificate is also possible, depending upon the nature of the breach.

A visitors permit is available for possession of firearms without certificate by visitors to the UK. [45]

The penalty for possession of any type of firearm without a certificate is a maximum of 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine. The penalty for section 5 categories of firearm is subject to a mandatory minimum of five years. [46] (Although the sentencing judge has discretion to depart from the minimum sentence if there are "exceptional circumstances"). [47]

The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 increased restrictions on the use, possession, sale and manufacture of both airguns and imitation firearms. [48]

Pistol shooting for sporting purposes has been effectively banned since 1997, although a temporary exemption was made for competitors to bring Section 5 firearms into the UK for the 2002 Commonwealth Games. This exemption only applied to the Games period and Home Nation pistol shooters had to train abroad prior to the Games. [49] [50] Ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games, Tessa Jowell (Minister for the Olympics) and the Home Secretary agreed to use Home Office powers to issue a small number of Section 5 Permits to elite pistol shooters nominated by British Shooting. [51] With Glasgow winning the right to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games, this arrangement was continued after the 2012 Olympics, with a small number of UK ranges licensed for Section 5 shooting. [52]

A few models of single-shot .22 calibre free pistol, as used in the 50 m Olympic 'Free Pistol' match, have been produced to meet the "long-barrelled pistol" conditions. Some free pistols have removable stabiliser bars extending backwards to improve stability the UK-legal models have been made with non-removable stabilisers to extend the dimensions, instead of contrived and non-functional grip extensions. Examples are the single-shot Pardini K22 Longarm [53] and the Westlake Britarms Long Pistol, a permitted .22 LR five-shot semi-automatic pistol. [54]

More than 100,000 people in Northern Ireland (approximately 5.7% of the population) own firearms, having 380,000 among them. [55] Gun control laws in Northern Ireland are less restrictive in some areas than gun laws in Great Britain due to the Good Friday Agreement, allowing Northern Ireland to govern itself and pass less restrictive laws. Gun laws in Northern Ireland are primarily affected by the Firearms (Northern Ireland) Order 2004. Any firearm that has a muzzle energy exceeding 1 Joule must be listed on a firearms certificate. Northern Ireland has one firearms certificate and all firearms are listed on that certificate irrespective of type.

All firearms owners in Northern Ireland are required to apply for a Firearm Certificate to possess firearms. Permits are issued to anyone who has good reason to possess firearms, such as target shooting and hunting. All firearms certificate holders are required to demonstrate they can be entrusted with a firearm. It is recommended that firearms dealers selling firearms are to instruct new buyers, and those changing/acquiring another firearm, about the safety procedures for that firearm. Firearm certificate holders in Northern Ireland may transport their firearms (except handguns) to Great Britain and possess those firearms while in Great Britain due to reciprocal firearms certificate licensing arrangements.

Firearms certificate holders are limited to the number of rounds of each calibre of ammunition listed on their certificate to 1000 per listed calibre. This is a standard allowance given to every certificate holder. If a certificate holder requires a larger allowance, they must request that increase from PSNI Firearms Branch.

Semi-automatic rifles are permitted when chambered in .22 rimfire. Handguns, shotguns and air rifles are permitted in various calibres. There is currently no limit on magazine capacity for rifles or handguns. Shotguns are limited to a magazine capacity of 2 cartridges for field use. The shotgun capacity can be increased, upon application to the PSNI firearms branch, for target shooting use.

Magazines are considered a component part in Northern Ireland and a firearms certificate holder may only possess magazines for firearms listed on their certificate. As of 2021, all magazines are required to be listed on firearms certificates. This measure is PSNI Firearms Branch policy in line with EU weapons directive. PSNI Firearms Branch are to clarify exactly how this will take place.

A firearm certificate for a personal protection weapon will only be authorised where the Police Service of Northern Ireland deems there is a "verifiable specific risk" to the life of an individual and that the possession of a firearm is a reasonable, proportionate and necessary measure to protect their life. [56] Permits for personal protection also allow the holder to carry their firearms concealed. [ citation needed ] Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom where personal protection is accepted as a legitimate reason to obtain and own a firearm.

Firearms laws in Scotland differ in some details from those in the rest of Great Britain, such as a license being required to own most air guns. However, in terms of licensing they are, currently, identical to the rest of Great Britain [ dubious – discuss ] . A firearms certificate is required to purchase firearms, [57] and a separate shotgun certificate is required for shotguns. [58] The guiding laws for firearms in Scotland are the Firearms (Scotland) Rules 1989 and the Firearms Act (1968). All handguns, semi-automatic and pump-action non-rim-fire rifles are prohibited. A few pistols are licensed on a Firearm Certificate for exactly the same reasons as the rest of Great Britain. There are only 566 licensed handgun owners in Scotland. [59]

Air weapon licensing Edit

In 2006, Glasgow politician Tommy Sheridan of the political party Solidarity launched a consultation to restrict possession of air guns, highlighting recent cases including the death of toddler Andrew Morton but the Scottish Parliament did not have the power to ban airguns at the time so any measures would have needed to be formally approved by Westminster. [60] Around this time, the media gave some exposure to growing public desire to have air guns banned or regulated, particularly from the parents of a child that died after being struck in the head by a pellet in Easterhouse, [61] a suburb of east Glasgow. [62] The child was said to have had a skull only two millimetres thick at the point of impact. [63]

MSPs such as Kenny MacAskill have claimed Scotland has a problem with air gun violence. However official figures show that out of the estimated 500,000 airguns in Scotland there were only 195 offences a ratio of less than 0.04%. Not all of these offences have been linked to violence with many being minor. [64]

The Commission on Scottish Devolution when implemented gave the Scottish Parliament powers to regulate air guns. On 14 December 2012, a consultation was launched to investigate proposals for licensing air weapons in Scotland. The Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Justice foreword in the consultation paper (titled Proposals for Licensing Air Weapons in Scotland [65] ) stated that the Scottish government "[does] not intend to ban air weapons outright, but [does] not think that it is appropriate in our modern Scotland that there can be up to half a million unregistered, uncontrolled and often forgotten firearms (however, air weapons are not considered 'firearms' under the law [47] ) in circulation". It stated an aim to "ensure that only those people with a legitimate reason for owning and using an airgun should have access to them in the future, and that they are properly licensed and accounted for". In 2011/12 there were 195 offences involving air weapons in Scotland, compared to 3,554 in England and Wales. [66] The consultation closed in March 2013 with 1,101 responses, 87% of which were opposed to the principle of licensing air weapons. [67]

As of 31 December 2016, it is a requirement to hold an airgun certificate in Scotland to possess an air rifle with muzzle energy less than 12 ft⋅lb (16 J) or air pistol with muzzle energy less than 6 ft⋅lb (8.1 J). There are some exceptions for current FAC and SGC holders in that they may hold an air rifle on their current certificate and apply to add it/them when next renewing their FAC or SGC. [68]

Many laws and amendments governing possession and use of firearms have been enacted over the years see Firearms Act § United Kingdom for a more complete list.

Following the assassination of William of Orange in 1584 with a concealed wheellock pistol, Queen Elizabeth I, fearing assassination by Roman Catholics, banned possession of wheellock pistols in England near a royal palace in 1594. [69] There were growing concerns in the 16th century over the use of guns and crossbows. Four acts were imposed to restrict their use in England and Wales. [70]

The 1662 Act for ordering the Forces in the several Counties of the Kingdom enabled & authorized by warrant, local government personnel, to search for and seize all Arms in the custody or possession of any person of persons whom the government judged dangerous to the Peace of the Kingdom. It prohibited the search of rural houses during the night hours. It made it lawful in case of resistance to enter by force. Furthermore it allowed for the restoration of seized arms. [71]

The Bill of Rights restated the ancient rights of the people to bear arms by reinstating the right of Protestants to have arms after they had been disarmed by James II. It follows closely the Declaration of Rights made in Parliament in February 1689. [72] The Bill of Rights text declares that "the Subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defence suitable to their Conditions and as allowed by Law". [73]

Whereas the late King James the Second, by the Assistance of divers evil Counsellors, Judges, and Ministers, employed by Him, did endeavour to subvert and extirpate the Protestant Religion, and the Laws and Liberties of this Kingdom . (b)y assuming and exercising a Power of dispensing with and suspending of Laws, and the Execution of Laws, without Consent of Parliament . (b)y causing several good Subjects, being Protestants, to be disarmed, at the same Time when Papists were both armed and employed contrary to Law . (a)ll which are utterly and directly contrary to the known Laws and Statutes and Freedom of this Realm . the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons, pursuant to their respective Letters and Elections, being now assembled in a full and free Representative of this Nation, taking into their most serious Consideration the best Means for attaining the Ends aforesaid, do in the First Place (as their Ancestors in like Case have usually done), for the vindicating and asserting their ancient Rights and Liberties, Declare, . That the Subjects which are Protestants may have Arms for their Defence, suitable to their Condition, and as allowed by Law.

The rights of English subjects and, after 1707, British subjects, to possess arms was recognised under English common law. Sir William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England, were highly influential and were used as a reference and text book for English Common Law. In his Commentaries, Blackstone described the right to arms. [74]

The fifth and last auxiliary right of the subject, that I shall at present mention, is that of having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law. Which is also declared by the same statute I W. & M. st.2. c.2. and is indeed a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression.

Formerly, this same British common law applied to the UK and Australia, and until 1791 to the colonies in North America that became the United States. The right to keep and bear arms had originated in England during the reign of Henry II with the 1181 Assize of Arms, and developed as part of common law.

After the Jacobite rebellions of 1715 and 1745, harsh laws providing, amongst other things, for disarming the Highlands of Scotland, were enacted by the Parliament of Great Britain: the Disarming Acts of 1716 and 1725, and the Act of Proscription 1746.

The first British firearm controls were introduced as part of the Vagrancy Act 1824, which was set up in a reaction against the large number of people roaming the country with weapons brought back from the Napoleonic wars. It allowed the police to arrest "any person with any gun, pistol, hanger [a light sword], cutlass, bludgeon or other offensive weapon . with intent to commit a felonious act". It was followed by the Night Poaching Acts 1828 and 1844, the Game Act 1831, and the Poaching Prevention Act 1862, which made it an offence to shoot game illegally by using a firearm.

The Gun Licence Act 1870 was created to raise revenue. It required a person to obtain a licence to carry a gun outside his own property for any reason. A licence was not required to buy a gun. The licences cost 10 shillings (equivalent to about £31 in 2005), lasted one year and could be bought over the counter at Post Offices.

Pistols Act 1903 Edit

The Pistols Act 1903 was the first to place restrictions on the sale of firearms. Titled "An Act to regulate the sale and use of Pistols or other Firearms", it was short, with just nine sections, and applied solely to pistols. It defined a pistol as a firearm whose barrel did not exceed 9 in (230 mm) in length and made it illegal to sell or rent a pistol to anyone who could not produce a current gun licence or game licence, unless they were exempt from the Gun Licence Act, could prove that they planned to use the pistol on their own property, or had a statement signed by a police officer of inspector rank or above or a Justice of the Peace to the effect that they were about to go abroad for six months or more. The Act was more or less ineffective, as anyone wishing to buy a pistol commercially merely had to purchase a licence on demand over the counter from a Post Office before doing so. In addition, it did not regulate private sales of such firearms.

The legislators laid some emphasis on the dangers of pistols in the hands of children and drunkards and made specific provisions regarding sales to these two groups: persons under 18 could be fined 40 shillings if they bought, hired, or carried a pistol, while anyone who sold a pistol to such a person could be fined £5. Anyone who sold a pistol to someone who was "intoxicated or of unsound mind" was liable to a fine of £25 or 3 months' imprisonment with hard labour. However, it was not an offence under the Act to give or lend a pistol to anyone belonging to the two groups. [75]

Firearms Act 1920 Edit

The Firearms Act 1920 was partly spurred by fears of a possible surge in crime from the large number of firearms available following World War I and also fears of working-class unrest in this period. "An Act to amend the law relating to firearms and other weapons and ammunition", its main stated aim was to enable the government to control the overseas arms trade and so fulfill its commitment to the 1919 Paris Arms Convention. [76] The ongoing Anglo-Irish War may also have been a factor, as Britain and Ireland were at that time still in union with each other, and the Act also applied to Ireland. It required anyone wanting to purchase or possess a firearm or ammunition to obtain a firearm certificate. The certificate, which lasted for three years, specified not only the firearm but also the amount of ammunition the holder could buy or possess. Local chief constables decided who could obtain a certificate and had the power to exclude anyone of "intemperate habits" or "unsound mind", or anyone considered "for any reason unfitted to be trusted with firearms". Applicants for certificates also had to convince the police that they had a good reason for needing a certificate. The law did not affect smooth-bore guns, which were available for purchase without any form of paperwork. The penalty for violating the Act was a fine of up to £50 or "imprisonment with or without hard labour for a term not exceeding three months", or both. [77]

The right of individuals to bear arms had previously been, in the words of the 1689 Bill of Rights, "as allowed by law". The 1920 Act made this right conditional upon the Home Secretary and the police. A series of classified Home Office directives defined for the benefit of chief constables what constituted good reason to grant a certificate. They originally included self-defence. [77]

As the 1920 Act did not prevent criminals from obtaining firearms illegally, in 1933 the Firearms and Imitation Firearms (Criminal Use) Bill was submitted to Parliament. It increased the punishment for the use of a gun in the commission of a crime and made it an offence punishable by up to 14 years' imprisonment for anyone to "attempt to make use" of any firearm or imitation firearm to resist arrest. Possession of a real or imitation firearm was also made an offence unless the possessor could show he had it for "a lawful object". [78]

Firearms Act 1937 Edit

The Firearms Act 1937 incorporated various modifications to the 1920 Act based on the recommendations of a 1934 committee chaired by Sir Archibald Bodkin. The resulting legislation raised the minimum age for buying a firearm or airgun from 14 to 17, extended controls to shotguns and other smooth-bore weapons with barrels shorter than 20 in (510 mm) (later raised by the Firearms Act 1968 to 24 in (610 mm), transferred certificates for machine guns to military oversight, regulated gun dealers, and granted chief constables the power to add conditions to individual Firearms Certificates. [79]

The same year, the Home Secretary ruled that self-defence was no longer a suitable reason for applying for a firearm certificate and directed police to refuse such applications on the grounds that "firearms cannot be regarded as a suitable means of protection and may be a source of danger". [80]

Firearms Act 1968 Edit

The Firearms Act 1968 brought together all existing firearms legislation in a single statute. Disregarding minor changes, it formed the legal basis for British firearms control policy until the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 was put through Parliament in the aftermath of the 1987 Hungerford massacre. For the first time, it introduced controls for long-barrelled shotguns, in the form of Shotgun Certificates that, like Firearm Certificates, were issued by an area's chief constable in England, Scotland, and Wales. While applicants for Firearms Certificates had to show a good reason for possessing the firearm or ammunition, it did not apply to Shotgun Certificates. Firearms and ammunition had to be kept locked up in a secure place approved by the local police firearms officer.

The Act also prohibited the possession of firearms or ammunition by criminals who had been sentenced to imprisonment those sentenced to three months to three years imprisonment were banned from possessing firearms or ammunition for five years, while those sentenced to longer terms were banned for life. However, an application could be made to have the prohibition removed. [81]

The Act was accompanied by an amnesty many older weapons were handed in to the police. It has remained a feature of British policing that from time to time a brief firearms amnesty is declared. [82]

The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 Edit

In the aftermath of the Hungerford massacre, Parliament passed the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988. [83] This confined semi-automatic and pump-action centre-fire rifles, military weapons firing explosive ammunition, short shotguns that had magazines, and elevated both pump-action and self-loading rifles to the Prohibited category. [84] Registration and secure storage of shotguns held on Shotgun Certificates became required, and shotguns with more than a 2+1 capacity came to need a Firearm Certificate. The law also introduced new restrictions on shotguns. Rifles in .22 rimfire and semi-automatic pistols were unaffected.

1997 Firearms (Amendment) Acts Edit

Following the Dunblane massacre, the government passed the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 and the Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act 1997, defining "short firearms" as Section 5 Prohibited Weapons, which effectively banned private possession of handguns almost completely in Great Britain. Exceptions to the ban include muzzle-loading guns, pistols of historic interest (such as pistols used in notable crimes, rare prototypes, unusual serial numbers, guns forming part of a collection), guns used for starting sporting events, signal pistols, pistols that are of particular aesthetic interest (such as engraved or jewelled guns) and shot pistols for pest control. Even the UK's Olympic shooters fell under this ban shooters could only train in Northern Ireland (where the ban did not apply), the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or outside the UK (in Switzerland, in practice). [85] Prior to the 2012 London Olympics, British Shooting negotiated an agreement with the Home Office to issue Section 5 Permits to a limited number of nominated elite athletes, allowing them to keep pistols and train on the UK Mainland at nominated "Section 5 Ranges". This agreement was renewed following the Olympics and Section 5 Permits remain on issue for eligible members of the GB Squad.

162,000 pistols and 700 tons of ammunition and related equipment were handed in by an estimated 57,000 people – 0.1% of the population, or one in every 960 persons. [86] At the time, the renewal cycle for FACs was five years, meaning that it would take six years for the full reduction of valid certificates for both large-calibre and .22 handguns bans (because certificates remained valid even if the holder had disposed of all their firearms). On 31 December 1996, prior to the large-calibre handgun ban, there were 133,600 FACs on issue in England and Wales by 31 December 1997 it had fallen to 131,900. On 31 December 2001, five years after the large calibre ban, the number had fallen to 119,600 and 117,700 the following year. [40] This represents a net drop of 24,200 certificates. Comparable figures for Scotland show a net drop of 5,841 from 32,053 to 26,212 certificates, [87] making a GB total net drop of 30,041. However, while the number of certificates in England and Wales rose each year after 2002 to stand at 126,400 at 31 March 2005 (due to a change in reporting period), those in Scotland remained relatively static, standing at 26,538 at 31 December 2005.

Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 Edit

This Act mainly impacted upon firearms legislation by creating minimum sentences for some firearms offences, [88] regulating the sale of primers and provisions relating to imitation firearms. [89] From 6 April 2007 the sale and transfer of new "air weapons" by mail order ("by way of trade or business") became an offence (they may still be purchased in person), as well as the sale of primers, and realistic imitation firearms (RIFs). The only exceptions are for the purposes of military and historical reenactment, media and theatre production, paintballing, and Airsoft as a sport. This has affected Airsoft in the UK by restricting the sale, import and purchase of airsoft replicas to individuals entitled to a specific defence, e.g. members of an organised airsoft site holding permitted activities with third-party liability insurance cover or re-enactors.

The 2012 Olympics Edit

Following the awarding of the 2012 Olympic Games to London, the government announced that special dispensation would be granted to allow the various shooting events to be held, as had been the case previously for the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Further dispensations allowed foreign participants in shooting events to train in the UK, even though it remained illegal for native pistol shooters to train in England, Scotland or Wales. [90]

Controversially, shooting events for the Games were held at temporary facilities at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, with the cost of £42 million including their subsequent demolition. Shooting sports bodies and some politicians argued that the money would have been better spent on the lasting legacy that would be gained by refurbishing and upgrading permanent facilities at the National Shooting Centre at Bisley, which would have cost a maximum of £30 million. [91] [92] [93]

Offensive Weapons Act 2019 Edit

This Act was intended to clarify three areas of firearms law in the Bill stage. All 3 amendments were to section 5 of the 1968 Act. Firstly was the prohibition of bump stocks. This was a reaction to the 2017 shooting spree at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Lever release firearms were also moved to s5. They are effectively a semi-semi-automatic in as much the bolt stays open on a shot but is closed with a convenient lever, thus speeding up the rate of fire. The final item for consideration were high muzzle energy firearms. Although targeting 50BMG rifles the "capable of 10,000 foot pounds of muzzle energy" also could apply to some British hunting rifles on their proof energies. This proposal never made the final Act. There were several proposed amendments to include further restrictions on all firearms and the licensing of non-dangerous air weapons in England and Wales, again none getting enacted. Air weapons and high muzzle energy firearms were also part of a public consultation in 2020.

The UK has one of the lowest rates of gun homicides in the world. [94] There were 0.05 recorded intentional homicides committed with a firearm per 100,000 inhabitants in the five years to 2011 (15 to 38 people per year). Gun homicides accounted for 2.4% of all homicides in the year 2011. [95] Office for National Statistics figures show 7,866 offences in which firearms were involved in the year ending March 2015, 2% up on the previous year and the first increase in 10 years. Of these, 19 were fatalities, 10 fewer than the previous year and the lowest since records began in 1969. [96] There was a further rise to 8,399 in the year ending March 2016, the highest number in four years, but significantly lower than the all-time high of 24,094 in 2003/04. Twenty-six resulted in fatal injuries. The Handgun ban had no positive effect on crime involving handguns, which increased significantly after the ban. In the year ending 31 March 2019, there were a total of 6,759 firearm offences recorded in the England & Wales. This was an increase of 4% compared with 6,534 offences recorded during the year ending 31 March 2018, and the highest recorded number since 7,040 in 2010/11. Crime involving firearms is a daily occurrence in most UK cities, despite some of the tightest firearms legislation in the world.

Spree killings and mass shootings Edit

Britain has had few spree killings or mass shootings. The most well known are the Hungerford massacre of 1987, the Dunblane school massacre of 1996, and the Cumbria shootings of 2010. After Hungerford and Dunblane, firearms legislation was amended, tightening firearms restrictions in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom Gun legislation has been described by The Huffington Post as "one of the toughest regimes in the world." [97] After Hungerford, the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 criminalised most semi-automatic long-barrelled weapons it was generally supported by the Labour opposition although some Labour backbenchers thought it inadequate. [98] After the second incident, the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997 criminalised private possession of most handguns having a calibre over .22 the Snowdrop Campaign continued to press for a wider ban, and in 1997 the incoming Labour government passed the Firearms (Amendment) (No. 2) Act. This extended the ban to most handguns with a calibre of .22, excepting antique handguns and black-powder revolvers.

Hungerford massacre Edit

On 19 August 1987, 27-year-old Michael Ryan, armed with two semi-automatic rifles (a Type 56 sporter and an M1 carbine) and a Beretta 92 pistol, dressed in combat fatigues and proceeded around the town of Hungerford killing 16 people, wounding 15 and shooting himself, in what became known as the Hungerford massacre. Ryan's collection of weapons had been legally licensed, according to the Hungerford Report.

Dunblane massacre Edit

On 13 March 1996, Thomas Hamilton, a 43-year-old former scout leader who had been ousted by The Scout Association in 1974, shot dead 16 young children and their teacher, Gweneth Mayor, in Dunblane Primary School's gymnasium with two Browning Hi-Power 9×19mm pistols and two Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolvers. He then shot himself. [99] There is a memorial to the 17 victims in the local cemetery and a cenotaph in the cathedral. The funds raised in the aftermath of the tragedy have been used to build a new community centre for the town.

Personnel of the Police Firearms Licensing Office were unaware of Hamilton's expulsion by the Scout Association, nor were they aware of allegations made against him regarding unsavoury behaviour on a number of boy's summer camps he had organised, allegations that would have exposed his poor character. The tragedy led to improvements in inter-departmental sharing of police intelligence and deeper background checks of firearm certificate applicants.

After the incident, legislation was introduced in 1997 to prohibit, with some extremely specialised exemptions, "small firearms" with a barrel length of less than 30 cm (12 in) or an overall length of less than 60 cm (24 in).

Cumbria shootings Edit

On 2 June 2010, Derrick Bird, a 52-year-old taxi driver, shot and killed 12 people and injured 11 others while driving through Cumbria. He then shot himself. Bird was a licensed firearms holder his weapons were a 12-gauge double-barrelled shotgun and CZ 452-2E ZKM .22-calibre bolt-action rifle. [100]

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Relevant acts of Parliament Edit

Information in the following references is released under Crown Copyright by the Office of Public Sector Information. This allows reproduction free of charge in any format or medium provided it is reproduced accurately and not used in a misleading context.


Wars Edit

  • The Cold War (1947–1991)
    • The Vietnam War (1955–1975)
      • 1961 – Substantial (approximately 700) American advisory forces first arrive in Vietnam.
      • 1962 – By mid-1962, the number of U.S. military advisers in South Vietnam had risen from 900 to 12,000.
      • 1963 – By the time of U.S. President John F. Kennedy's death there were 16,000 American military personnel in South Vietnam, up from Eisenhower's 900 advisors to cope with rising guerrilla activity in Vietnam. [12]
      • 1964 – In direct response to the minor naval engagement known as the Gulf of Tonkin incident which occurred on 2 August 1964, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress, was passed on 10 August 1964. The resolution gave U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson authorization, without a formal declaration of war by Congress, for the use of military force in Southeast Asia. The Johnson administration subsequently cited the resolution as legal authority for its rapid escalation of U.S. military involvement in the Vietnam War. [13]
      • 1966 – After 1966, with the draft in place more than 500,000 troops were sent to Vietnam by the Johnson administration and college attendance soars.
        (June 1967) – a war between Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. The Arab states of Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria also contributed troops and arms. [14] At the war's end, Israel had gained control of the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. The results of the war affect the geopolitics of the region to this day.
      • The Algerian War came to a close in 1962.
      • The Nigeria Civil War began in 1967.
      • Civil wars in Laos and Sudan rage on throughout the decade.
      • The Al-Wadiah War was a military conflict which broke out on 27 November 1969 between Saudi Arabia and the People's Republic of South Yemen.

      Internal conflicts Edit

        (1966–1976) – a period of widespread social and political upheaval in the People's Republic of China which was launched by Mao Zedong, the chairman of the Communist Party of China. Mao alleged that "liberal bourgeois" elements were permeating the party and society at large and that they wanted to restore capitalism. Mao insisted that these elements be removed through post-revolutionary class struggle by mobilizing the thoughts and actions of China's youth, who formed Red Guards groups around the country. The movement subsequently spread into the military, urban workers, and the party leadership itself. Although Mao himself officially declared the Cultural Revolution to have ended in 1969, the power struggles and political instability between 1969 and the arrest of the Gang of Four in 1976 are now also widely regarded as part of the Revolution.
  • The Naxalite movement in India began in 1967 with an armed uprising of tribals against local landlords in the village of Naxalbari, West Bengal, led by certain leaders of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). The movement was influenced by Mao Zedong's ideology and spread to many tribal districts in Eastern India, gaining strong support among the radical urban youth. After counter-insurgency operations by the police, military and paramilitary forces, the movement fragmented but is still active in many districts. in Northern Ireland began with the rise of the Northern Ireland civil rights movement in the mid-1960s, the conflict continued into the later 1990s.
  • The Compton's Cafeteria Riot occurred in August 1966 in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. This incident was one of the first recorded transgender riots in United States history, preceding the more famous 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City by three years.
  • The Stonewall riots occurred in June 1969 in New York City. The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations against a police raid that took place in the Stonewall Inn, in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. They are frequently cited as the first instance in American history when people in the homosexual community fought back against a government-sponsored system that persecuted sexual minorities, and they have become the defining event that marked the start of the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.
  • In 1967, the National Farmers Organization withheld milk supplies for 15 days as part of an effort to induce a quota system to stabilize prices. .
  • Mass socialist or Communist movement in most European countries (particularly France and Italy), with which the student-based new left was able to forge a connection. The most spectacular manifestation of this was the May student revolt of 1968 in Paris that linked up with a general strike of ten million workers called by the trade unions and for a few days seemed capable of overthrowing the government of Charles de Gaulle. De Gaulle went off to visit French troops in Germany to check on their loyalty. Major concessions were won for trade union rights, higher minimum wages and better working conditions.
  • University students protested in the hundreds of thousands against the Vietnam War in London, Paris, Berlin and Rome.
  • In Eastern Europe students also drew inspiration from the protests in the West. In Poland and Yugoslavia they protested against restrictions on free speech by communist regimes.
  • The Tlatelolco massacre – was a government massacre of student and civilian protesters and bystanders that took place during the afternoon and night of 2 October 1968, in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas in the Tlatelolco section of Mexico City.
  • Coups Edit

    Prominent coups d'état of the decade included:

    • On 27 May 1960, a coup in Turkey led by Cemal Gürsel and Cemal Madanoğlu overthrew the government of Adnan Menderes.
    • On 16 May 1961, a coup in South Korea led by army officer Park Chung-hee made the establishment of temporary military rule.
    • In 1963, a coup in South Viet Nam leads to the death of President Ngô Đình Diệm and the establishment of temporary military rule.
    • On 21 April 1967, in Greece a group of colonels established a military dictatorship for seven years.
    • In 1968, a coup in Iraq led to the overthrow of Abdul Rahman Arif by the Arab SocialistBaath Party.
    • On 1 September 1969, a small group of military officers led by the army officer Muammar Gaddafi overthrows monarchy in Libya.

    Nuclear threats Edit

    • The Cuban Missile Crisis (16–28 October 1962) – a near-military confrontation between the U.S. and the Soviet Union about the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba. After an American Naval (quarantine) blockade of Cuba the Soviet Union under the leadership of Nikita Khrushchev agreed to remove their missiles from Cuba in exchange for the U.S. removing its missiles from Turkey.
    • On 13 February 1960, France detonated its first atomic bomb. France possessed a hydrogen bomb by 1968.
    • On 16 October 1964, China detonated its first atomic bomb. China possessed a hydrogen bomb by 1967.

    Decolonization and independence Edit

    • The transformation of Africa from colonialism to independence in what is known as the decolonisation of Africa dramatically accelerated during the decade, with 32 countries gaining independence between 1960 and 1968, marking the end of the European empires that once dominated the African continent. However, the noble aspirations of these new nations quickly faded, [citation needed] and many states descended into anarchy, kleptocracy, dictatorships, and/or civil war. The road to prosperity has been difficult: As of 2011 [update] , by many measures Africa continues to possess the poorest population[15] in the world as well as the lowestlife expectancy.

    Prominent political events Edit

    North America Edit

    United States Edit
    • 1960 – 1960 United States presidential election – The very close campaign was the series of four Kennedy–Nixon debates they were the first presidential debates held on television. Kennedy won a close election.
    • 1961 – President John F. Kennedy promised some more aggressive confrontation with the Soviet Union he also established the Peace Corps.
    • 1963 – Betty Friedan published the book The Feminine Mystique, reawakening the feminist movement and being largely responsible for its second wave.
    • 1963 – Civil rights becomes a central issue, as the Birmingham campaign and Birmingham riot lead to President Kennedy's Civil Rights Address, Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington, and the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing
    • 1963 – Kennedy was assassinated and replaced by Vice President Lyndon Johnson. The nation was in shock. For the next half-century, conspiracy theorists concocted numerous alternative explanations to the official report that a lone gunman killed Kennedy.
    • 1964 – Johnson pressed for civil rights legislation. Civil Rights Act of 1964 signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson. This landmark piece of legislation in the United States outlawed racial segregation in schools, public places, and employment. The first black riots erupt in major cities.
    • 1964 – Johnson was reelected over Conservative spokesman Senator Barry Goldwater by wide landslide Liberals gained full control of Congress.
    • 1964 – Wilderness Act signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on 3 September.
    • 1965 – After the events of the Selma to Montgomery marches the National Voting Rights Act of 1965 was lobbied for, and then signed into law, by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Voting Rights Act outlawed discriminatory voting practices that had caused the widespread disenfranchisement of African Americans in the United States.
    • 1968 – U.S. President Richard M. Nixon was elected defeating Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey in November.
    • 1969 – U.S. President Richard Nixon was inaugurated in January 1969 promised "peace with honor" to end the Vietnam War.
    Canada Edit
      in Quebec altered the province-city-state into a more secular society. The Jean Lesage Liberal government created a welfare state État-Providence and fomented the rise of active nationalism among Francophone French-speaking Quebecer|Québécois.
    • On 15 February 1965, the new Flag of Canada was adopted in Canada, after much anticipated debate known as the Great Canadian Flag Debate.
    • In 1960, the Canadian Bill of Rights becomes law, and suffrage, and the right for any Canadian citizen to vote, was finally adopted by John Diefenbaker's Progressive Conservative government. The new election act allowed First Nations people to vote for the first time.
    Mexico Edit
    • The student and New Left protests in 1968 coincided with political upheavals in a number of other countries. Although these events often sprung from completely different causes, they were influenced by reports and images of what was happening in the United States and France. [16]

    Europe Edit

    • British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan delivered his "Wind of Change" speech in 1960.
    • Construction of the Berlin Wall 1961 to prevent East Germans from escaping to the West. [17] calls the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church, continued by Pope Paul VI, which met from 11 October 1962, until 8 December 1965. [18]
    • In October 1964, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was expelled from office due to his increasingly erratic and authoritarian behavior. Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin then became the new leaders of the Soviet Union. [19]
    • In Czechoslovakia, 1968 was the year of Alexander Dubček's Prague Spring, a source of inspiration to many Western leftists who admired Dubček's "socialism with a human face". The Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August ended these hopes and also fatally damaged the chances of the orthodox communist parties drawing many recruits from the student protest movement. [20]

    Asia Edit

    China Edit
    • Relations with the United States remained hostile during the 1960s, although representatives from both countries held periodic meetings in Warsaw, Poland (since there was no U.S. embassy in China). President Kennedy had plans to restore Sino-US relations, but his assassination, the war in Vietnam, and the Cultural Revolution put an end to that. Not until Richard Nixon took office in 1969 was there another opportunity.
    • Following Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev's expulsion in 1964, Sino-Soviet relations devolved into open hostility. The Chinese were deeply disturbed by the Soviet suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968, as the latter now claimed the right to intervene in any country it saw as deviating from the correct path of socialism. Finally, in March 1969, armed clashes took place along the Sino-Soviet border in Manchuria. This drove the Chinese to restore relations with the U.S., as Mao Zedong decided that the Soviet Union was a much greater threat against them.
    India Edit
    • In India a literary and cultural movement started in Calcutta, Patna, and other cities by a group of writers and painters who called themselves "Hungryalists", or members of the Hungry generation. The band of writers wanted to change virtually everything and were arrested with several cases filed against them on various charges. They ultimately won these cases. [21]

    Africa Edit

    • On 1 September 1969, the Libyan monarchy was overthrown, and a radical, revolutionary, government headed by Col. Muammar al-Gadaffi took power.

    South America Edit

    • In 1964, a successful coup against the democratically elected government of Brazilian president João Goulart, initiated a military dictatorship that caused over 20 years of oppression.
    • The Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara travelled to Africa and then Bolivia in his campaigning to spread worldwide revolution. He was captured and executed in 1967 by the Bolivian army, and afterwards became an iconic figure for the left wing around the world. took power by a coup in Peru in 1968.

    The decade began with a recession from 1960 to 1961, at that time unemployment was considered high at around 7%. In his campaign, John F. Kennedy promised to "get America moving again." His goal was economic growth of 4–6% per year and unemployment below 4%. To do this, he instituted a 7% tax credit for businesses that invest in new plants and equipment. By the end of the decade, median family income had risen from $8,540 in 1963 to $10,770 by 1969. [22]

    Although the first half of the decade had low inflation, by 1966 Kennedy's tax credit had reduced unemployment to 3.7% and inflation remained below 2%. With the economy booming Johnson began his "Great Society" which vastly expanded social programs. By the end of the decade under Nixon, the combined inflation and unemployment rate known as the misery index (economics) had exploded to nearly 10% with inflation at 6.2% and unemployment at 3.5% and by 1975 the misery index was almost 20%. [23]

    Prominent assassinations, targeted killings, and assassination attempts include:

    • 12 October 1960 – Inejiro Asanuma, leader of the Japan Socialist Party
    • 17 January 1961 – Patrice Lumumba, the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Maurice Mpolo, Minister of Youth and Sports Joseph Okito, Vice-President of the Senate. Assassinated by a Belgian and Congolese firing squad outside Lubumbashi.
    • 20 February 1961 Alphonse Songolo, former Minister of Communications of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Gilbert Pongo, intelligence officer and communications official. Shot in Kisangani.
    • 30 May 1961 – Rafael Trujillo Dictator of Dominican Republic for 31 years, by a number of plotters including a general in his army.
    • 13 January 1963 – Sylvanus Olympio, the Prime Minister of Togo, is killed during the 1963 Togolese coup d'état. His body is dumped in front of the U.S. embassy in Lomé.
    • 27 May 1963 – Grigoris Lambrakis, Greek left-wing MP by far-right extremists with connections to the police and the army in Thessaloniki.
    • 12 June 1963 – Medgar Evers, an NAACP field secretary. Assassinated by Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the Ku Klux Klan in Jackson, Mississippi.
    • 2 November 1963 – Ngô Đình Diệm, President of South Vietnam, along with his brother and chief political adviser, Ngô Đình Nhu. Assassinated by Dương Hiếu Nghĩa and Nguyễn Văn Nhung in the back of an armoured personnel carrier.
    • 22 November 1963 – John F. Kennedy, President of the United States. Assassinated allegedly by Lee Harvey Oswald while riding in a motorcade through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas.
    • 24 November 1963 – Lee Harvey Oswald, suspected assassin of President of the United States John F. Kennedy and Dallas Police Department officer J. D. Tippit. Assassinated by Jack Ruby on live television in the basement of the Dallas Police Department headquarters.
    • 19 July 1964 – Jason Sendwe, President of North Katanga Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Executed by Simba rebels in Albertville.
    • 11 December 1964 – Sam Cooke, American singer-songwriter and civil rights activist, was shot at the age of 33 in the Hacienda Motel, in Los Angeles, California.
    • 13 February 1965 – Humberto Delgado. Assassinated by Portuguese dictator Salazar's political police PIDE in Spain, near the Portuguese border.
    • 21 February 1965 – Malcolm X. Assassinated by members of the Nation of Islam in New York City. There is a dispute about which members killed Malcolm X.
    • 6 September 1966 – Hendrik Verwoerd, Prime Minister of South Africa and architect of apartheid was stabbed to death by Dimitri Tsafendas, a parliamentary messenger. He survived a previous attempt on his life in 1960.
    • 25 August 1967 – George Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party. Assassinated by John Patler in Arlington, Virginia.
    • 9 October 1967 – Che Guevara, assassinated by the CIA and Bolivian army. [24]
    • 4 April 1968 – Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights leader. Assassinated by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee.
    • 5 June 1968 – Robert F. Kennedy, United States Senator. Assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan in Los Angeles, after taking California in the presidential national primaries.
    • 4 December 1969 – Fred Hampton. [25] [circular reference] Assassinated in Chicago by the Chicago Police Department.
    • The 1960 Valdivia earthquake, also known as the Great Chilean earthquake, is to date the most powerful earthquake ever recorded, rating 9.5 on the moment magnitude scale. It caused localized tsunamis that severely battered the Chilean coast, with waves up to 25 meters (82 ft). The main tsunami raced across the Pacific Ocean and devastated Hilo, Hawaii. was a 6.1 moment magnitude earthquake which occurred in Skopje, SR Macedonia (present-day Republic of Macedonia) on 26 July 1963 which killed over 1,070 people, injured between 3,000 and 4,000 and left more than 200,000 people homeless. About 80% of the city was destroyed.
    • 1963 – Vajont dam disaster – The Vajont dam flood in Italy was caused by a mountain sliding in the dam, and causing a flood wave that killed approximately 2,000 people in the towns in its path.
    • 1964 – The Good Friday earthquake, the most powerful earthquake recorded in the U.S. and North America, struck Alaska and killed 143 people.
    • 1965 – Hurricane Betsy caused severe damage to the U.S. Gulf Coast, especially in the state of Louisiana.
    • 1969 – The Cuyahoga River caught fire in Ohio. Fires had erupted on the river many times, including 22 June 1969, when a river fire captured the attention of Time magazine, which described the Cuyahoga as the river that "oozes rather than flows" and in which a person "does not drown but decays." This helped spur legislative action on water pollution control resulting in the Clean Water Act, Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and the creation of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
    • 1969 – Hurricane Camille hit the U.S. Gulf Coast at Category 5 Status. It peaked and made landfall with 175 mph (280 km/h) winds and caused $1.42 billion (1969 USD) in damages.
    • On 16 December 1960, a United Airlines DC-8 and a Trans World Airlines Lockheed Constellation collided over New York City and crashed, killing 134 people.
    • On 15 February 1961, Sabena Flight 548 crashed on its way to Brussels, Belgium, killing all 72 passengers on board and 1 person on the ground. Among those killed were all 18 members of the US figure skating team, on their way to the World Championships.
    • On 16 March 1962, Flying Tiger Line Flight 739, a Lockheed Super Constellation, inexplicably disappeared over the Western Pacific, leaving all 107 on board presumed dead. Since the wreckage of the aircraft is lost to this day, the cause of the crash remains a mystery.
    • On 3 June 1962, Air France Flight 007, a Boeing 707, crashed on takeoff from Paris. 130 people were killed in the crash while 2 survived.
    • On 20 May 1965, PIA Flight 705 crashed on approach to Cairo, Egypt. 121 died while 6 survived.
    • On 4 February 1966, All Nippon Airways Flight 60, a Boeing 727, plunged into Tokyo Bay for reasons unknown. All 133 people on board died.
    • On 5 March 1966, BOAC Flight 911 broke up in mid-air and crashed on the slopes of Mount Fuji. All 124 aboard died.
    • On 8 December 1966, the car ferry SS Heraklion sank in the Aegean Sea during a storm, killing 217 people.
    • On 16 March 1969, a DC-9 operating Viasa Flight 742 crashed in the Venezuelan city of Maracaibo. A total of 155 people died in the crash.

    Counterculture and social revolution Edit

    In the second half of the decade, young people began to revolt against the conservative norms of the time, as well as remove themselves from mainstream liberalism, in particular the high level of materialism which was so common during the era. This created a "counterculture" that sparked a social revolution throughout much of the Western world. It began in the United States as a reaction against the conservatism and social conformity of the 1950s, and the U.S. government's extensive military intervention in Vietnam. The youth involved in the popular social aspects of the movement became known as hippies. These groups created a movement toward liberation in society, including the sexual revolution, questioning authority and government, and demanding more freedoms and rights for women and minorities. The Underground Press, a widespread, eclectic collection of newspapers served as a unifying medium for the counterculture. The movement was also marked by the first widespread, socially accepted drug use (including LSD and marijuana) and psychedelic music.

    Anti-war movement Edit

    The war in Vietnam would eventually lead to a commitment of over half a million American troops, resulting in over 58,500 American deaths and producing a large-scale antiwar movement in the United States. As late as the end of 1965, few Americans protested the American involvement in Vietnam, but as the war dragged on and the body count continued to climb, civil unrest escalated. Students became a powerful and disruptive force and university campuses sparked a national debate over the war. As the movement's ideals spread beyond college campuses, doubts about the war also began to appear within the administration itself. A mass movement began rising in opposition to the Vietnam War, ending in the massive Moratorium protests in 1969, as well as the movement of resistance to conscription ("the Draft") for the war. [ citation needed ]

    The antiwar movement was initially based on the older 1950s Peace movement, heavily influenced by the American Communist Party, but by the mid-1960s it outgrew this and became a broad-based mass movement centered in universities and churches: one kind of protest was called a "sit-in". Other terms heard in the United States included "the Draft", "draft dodger", "conscientious objector", and "Vietnam vet". Voter age-limits were challenged by the phrase: "If you're old enough to die for your country, you're old enough to vote."

    Civil rights movement Edit

    Beginning in the mid-1950s and continuing into the late 1960s, African-Americans in the United States aimed at outlawing racial discrimination against black Americans and voting rights to them. This article covers the phase of the movement between 1955 and 1968, particularly in the South. The emergence of the Black Power movement, which lasted roughly from 1966 to 1975, enlarged the aims of the civil rights movement to include racial dignity, economic and political self-sufficiency, and anti-imperialism.

    The movement was characterized by major campaigns of civil resistance. Between 1955 and 1968, acts of civil disobedience and nonviolent protest produced crisis situations between activists and government authorities. Federal, state, and local governments, businesses, and communities often had to respond immediately to these situations that highlighted the inequities faced by African Americans. Forms of protest and/or civil disobedience included boycotts such as the successful Montgomery bus boycott (1955–1956) in Alabama "sit-ins" such as the influential Greensboro sit-ins (1960) in North Carolina marches, such as the Selma to Montgomery marches (1965) in Alabama and a wide range of other nonviolent activities.

    Noted legislative achievements during this phase of the civil rights movement were passage of Civil Rights Act of 1964, [26] that banned discrimination based on "race, color, religion, or national origin" in employment practices and public accommodations the Voting Rights Act of 1965, that restored and protected voting rights the Immigration and Nationality Services Act of 1965, that dramatically opened entry to the U.S. to immigrants other than traditional European groups and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, that banned discrimination in the sale or rental of housing.

    Hispanic and Chicano movement Edit

    Another large ethnic minority group, the Mexican-Americans, are among other Hispanics in the U.S. who fought to end racial discrimination and socioeconomic disparity. The largest Mexican-American populations was in the Southwestern United States, such as California with over 1 million Chicanos in Los Angeles alone, and Texas where Jim Crow laws included Mexican-Americans as "non-white" in some instances to be legally segregated.

    Socially, the Chicano Movement addressed what it perceived to be negative ethnic stereotypes of Mexicans in mass media and the American consciousness. It did so through the creation of works of literary and visual art that validated Mexican-American ethnicity and culture. Chicanos fought to end social stigmas such as the usage of the Spanish language and advocated official bilingualism in federal and state governments.

    The Chicano Movement also addressed discrimination in public and private institutions. Early in the twentieth century, Mexican Americans formed organizations to protect themselves from discrimination. One of those organizations, the League of United Latin American Citizens, was formed in 1929 and remains active today. [27]

    The movement gained momentum after World War II when groups such as the American G.I. Forum, which was formed by returning Mexican American veterans, joined in the efforts by other civil rights organizations. [28]

    Mexican-American civil-rights activists achieved several major legal victories including the 1947 Mendez v. Westminster U.S. Supreme Court ruling which declared that segregating children of "Mexican and Latin descent" was unconstitutional and the 1954 Hernandez v. Texas ruling which declared that Mexican Americans and other racial groups in the United States were entitled to equal protection under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. [29] [30]

    The most prominent civil-rights organization in the Mexican-American community, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), was founded in 1968. [31] Although modeled after the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, MALDEF has also taken on many of the functions of other organizations, including political advocacy and training of local leaders.

    Meanwhile, Puerto Ricans in the U.S. mainland fought against racism, police brutality and socioeconomic problems affecting the three million Puerto Ricans residing in the 50 states. The main concentration of the population was in New York City.

    In the 1960s and the following 1970s, Hispanic-American culture was on the rebound like ethnic music, foods, culture and identity both became popular and assimilated into the American mainstream. Spanish-language television networks, radio stations and newspapers increased in presence across the country, especially in U.S.–Mexican border towns and East Coast cities like New York City, and the growth of the Cuban American community in Miami, Florida.

    The multitude of discrimination at this time represented an inhuman side to a society that in the 1960s was upheld as a world and industry leader. The issues of civil rights and warfare became major points of reflection of virtue and democracy, what once was viewed as traditional and inconsequential was now becoming the significance in the turning point of a culture. A document known as the Port Huron Statement exemplifies these two conditions perfectly in its first hand depiction, "while these and other problems either directly oppressed us or rankled our consciences and became our own subjective concerns, we began to see complicated and disturbing paradoxes in our surrounding America. The declaration "all men are created equal. " rang hollow before the facts of Negro life in the South and the big cities of the North. The proclaimed peaceful intentions of the United States contradicted its economic and military investments in the Cold War status quo." These intolerable issues became too visible to ignore therefore its repercussions were feared greatly, the realization that we as individuals take the responsibility for encounter and resolution in our lives issues was an emerging idealism of the 1960s.

    Second-wave feminism Edit

    A second wave of feminism in the United States and around the world gained momentum in the early 1960s. While the first wave of the early 20th century was centered on gaining suffrage and overturning de jure inequalities, the second wave was focused on changing cultural and social norms and de facto inequalities associated with women. At the time, a woman's place was generally seen as being in the home, and they were excluded from many jobs and professions. In the U.S., a Presidential Commission on the Status of Women found discrimination against women in the workplace and every other aspect of life, a revelation which launched two decades of prominent women-centered legal reforms (i.e., the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title IX, etc.) which broke down the last remaining legal barriers to women's personal freedom and professional success.

    Feminists took to the streets, marching and protesting, authoring books and debating to change social and political views that limited women. In 1963, with Betty Friedan's book, The Feminine Mystique, the role of women in society, and in public and private life was questioned. By 1966, the movement was beginning to grow in size and power as women's group spread across the country and Friedan, along with other feminists, founded the National Organization for Women. In 1968, "Women's Liberation" became a household term as, for the first time, the new women's movement eclipsed the civil rights movement when New York Radical Women, led by Robin Morgan, protested the annual Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The movement continued throughout the next decades. Gloria Steinem was a key feminist.

    Gay rights movement Edit

    The United States, in the middle of a social revolution, led the world in LGBT rights in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Inspired by the civil-rights movement and the women's movement, early gay-rights pioneers had begun, by the 1960s, to build a movement. These groups were rather conservative in their practices, emphasizing that gay men and women are no different from those who are straight and deserve full equality. This philosophy would be dominant again after AIDS, but by the very end of the 1960s, the movement's goals would change and become more radical, demanding a right to be different, and encouraging gay pride.

    The symbolic birth of the gay rights movement would not come until the decade had almost come to a close. Gays were not allowed by law to congregate. Gay establishments such as the Stonewall Inn in New York City were routinely raided by the police to arrest gay people. On a night in late June 1969, LGBT people resisted, for the first time, a police raid, and rebelled openly in the streets. This uprising called the Stonewall Riots began a new period of the LGBT rights movement that in the next decade would cause dramatic change both inside the LGBT community and in the mainstream American culture.

    New Left Edit

    The rapid rise of a "New Left" applied the class perspective of Marxism to postwar America, but had little organizational connection with older Marxist organizations such as the Communist Party, and even went as far as to reject organized labor as the basis of a unified left-wing movement. Sympathetic to the ideology of C. Wright Mills, the New Left differed from the traditional left in its resistance to dogma and its emphasis on personal as well as societal change. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) became the organizational focus of the New Left and was the prime mover behind the opposition to the War in Vietnam. The 1960s left also consisted of ephemeral campus-based Trotskyist, Maoist and anarchist groups, some of which by the end of the 1960s had turned to militancy.

    Student Activism 2.0

    On February 16, 2018, two days after a 19-year-old took an Uber to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and killed 17 students and staff with a semi-automatic rifle, 19-year-old Julian Lopez-Leyva held a demonstration alone.

    The Phoenix native and sophomore at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston knew gun violence intimately. His cousin had been paralyzed from gunshot wounds an administrator at his elementary school was killed in a parking lot a masked man had held a pistol to his head before taking his phone and wallet. But he had scant experience organizing protests. For 17 hours, one for each Parkland victim, Lopez-Leyva stood on a bench in a small park across from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, waving handmade signs and asking passersby for solutions to “our gun epidemic.” He returned home exhausted and exasperated.

    Two days later, Lopez-Leyva watched five survivors of the Parkland massacre announce on CNN that they were organizing a national March for Our Lives to demand stricter background checks for gun buyers and to “Never Again” witness a school shooting. They were teenagers, in the midst of attending their friends’ funerals, but they spoke with conviction, clarity, solemnity, and vision, a maturity unprecedented — from children and adults alike — in the wake of the 193 American school shootings since Columbine in 1999. Their “sudden resilience, the way they stared beyond the camera,” Lopez-Leyva says, “awakened me, gave me a new hope.” A few minutes later he created a Facebook event for a March for Our Lives in Boston. Through social media and visiting nearby campuses, he soon helped connect 94 bipartisan student groups (including multiple chapters of College Democrats and College Republicans), civic organizations, and teachers unions. When he stepped onto Boston Common on March 24, this time he was joined by nearly 100,000 demonstrators, along with some 2 million at 800 simultaneous rallies in every U.S. state and on six continents. In five weeks, students organized one of the largest youth protests since the Vietnam War.

    “I was blown away,” says Lopez-Leyva. Still, he was soon asking the same questions he asked after his solo demonstration: “How do we keep this going? How do we get results?”

    Millions of students are asking the same questions amid the most forceful surge of youth activism since the 1960s. From the hunger strike, encampment, and football-team boycott demanding the ouster of the University of Missouri’s president to a New York University student dragging a mattress to class for an entire year in protest of sexual violence to marches against visiting supporters of President Donald Trump to die-ins for racial justice, including one at the Ed School, unrest spreads among American students. In 2016, an annual UCLA survey of undergraduates nationwide found that 1 in 10 expected to partake in protests while in college, the highest rate since 1967.

    “We’re in a groundswell moment of youth activism,” says Professor Meira Levinson, who studies civic and multicultural education. In the weeks after the Parkland shooting, to help educate first-time protesters, Levinson co-created the online learning resource Youth in Front (with Justin Reich, Ed.D.’12, executive director of MIT’s Teaching Systems Lab, and Doug Pietrzak, Ed.M.’11, founder of the instructional design firm Fresh Cognate). After surveying more than 3,000 high school and college students in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Mississippi, Levinson and her team built how-to guides and fielded video interviews with 30 scholars and activists (Lopez-Leyva included) to answer the students’ most common questions: Why protest? Will I be alone? Will I get in trouble? How can teachers be allies?

    March 14, 2018: Students at Tucson High Magnet School (opposite) left classes as part of the #ENOUGH! National School Walkout day to raise awareness about gun violence and school safety.

    By far the most elusive question, Levinson admits, is, how a march can become a movement. “This is depressing but true,” she says. The mode — the most common outcome — “is that activism doesn’t work.” Countless forces keep youth uprisings “permanently fragile”— from distrust and dismissal from adults to co-optation to attrition by graduation, infighting, or simply other obligations as students. Especially for low-income students and youth of color, “it’s much harder to get recognized as fighting for positive change as opposed to posing a threat.” Still, “there’s a deep affinity between generational change and social change,” says Marshall Ganz, a senior lecturer at the Kennedy School. “Young people come of age with three tools essential for renewal: a critical eye of the world, a clear view of the its needs and pain, and hopeful hearts that give a sense of the world’s promise and possibilities.” Students have been activists since they’ve been students. From 1229 to 1231, the entire student body at the Sorbonne went on strike, until Pope Gregory IX (a Sorbonne alumnus) declared students were exempt from the city’s jurisdiction. Nearly 1,000 years of protests later, Levinson says, we have found “no magic formula” to affecting change. But we have learned a few causes and tactics that tend to boom, and doom, uprisings.

    In the beginning, students fought for their rights with knives, stones, and fists. As the first universities opened in medieval Europe — Bologna, Cambridge, Paris — students often brawled with citizens over their license to roam the town free, which most often resulted in bolstered protections for students. When the University of Vienna was founded in 1365, for example, the Duke of Austria declared that if a nonstudent dismembered a student, authorities were to sever the same body part from the nonstudent.

    Until the 20th century, American activism was slipshod and provincial. In 1639, Harvard students testified in court against the school’s vile cuisine and the violent punishments given by inaugural schoolmaster Nathaniel Eaton. The magistrates fired Eaton and his wife, who admitted to serving students “mackerel … with their guts in them, and goat’s dung in their hasty pudding.” American college students wouldn’t stage a real protest until 1766, with Harvard’s Great Butter Rebellion. After Asa Dunbar (class of 1767) allegedly mounted his chair and bellowed, “Behold, our butter stinketh! Give us, therefore, butter that stinketh not,” students boycotted the dining hall for a month until President Edward Holyoke suspended more than half of the student body. Culinary outcries regularly erupted at Harvard until the Civil War.

    National student movements began in the 1920s and climaxed during the Great Depression as socialist-oriented organizations such as the National Student Federation and National Student League opened hundreds of chapters and held rallies and conferences on liberal education, democracy, and labor rights. World War II and the antisocialist wave of the Cold War fractured many of these groups and drowned out a generation of student progressivism while conservative organizations such as the prowar Student League of America and the evangelical Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) grew. Founded at UCLA in 1951, CCC had 40 chapters in the U.S. by 1959, and hundreds more in 25 countries a decade later.

    May 8, 1970: In the wake of the Kent State shootings, students from Harvard and other local colleges (below) gathered outside Harvard Stadium.

    Then, in February 1960, four African American freshmen at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University sat at a “whites only” lunch counter in Greensboro. Their nonviolent protest of segregation sparked widespread student involvement in the civil rights movement the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) formed later that year and soon had active members at colleges across the country. Among them was Ganz, who dropped out of Harvard before his senior year in 1964 to join the SNCC-led Mississippi Summer Project (a campaign to register black voters) and later spent 16 years as the United Farm Workers’ director of organizing.

    Radicalism, over civil rights, the Vietnam War, the free speech movement, and feminism, increased each year until 1968, “The Year of the Student” according to Mark Edelman Boren, author of Student Resistance: A History of the Unruly Subject. Students rioted and took over universities, factories, and government buildings in France, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Senegal, the Congo, and Pakistan. Across the United States, once sleepy, conservative campuses regularly held demonstrations. At Harvard in 1967–68, some 300 students charged into Mallinckrodt Laboratory and held captive a job recruiter for napalm manufacturer Dow Chemical for seven hours others boycotted their commencement speaker, the shah of Iran and Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz taught a class on how students could legally dodge the draft.

    But 1968 was also the year student movements began to unravel. The assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy set back the civil rights and antiwar movements. A lack of leaders brought a dearth of tactics and goals. “Leadership is fundamental to growing and sustaining a movement,” Ganz says. “They shift the power balance by empowering a community to come into being. Without strong leaders and leadership development, movements end up embracing structurelessness, and that just produces chaos.” Simultaneously, college administrations and local and state authorities alike grew more aggressive in squashing demonstrations. In 1968 police shot to death three student protestors in Orangeburg, South Carolina, and one in Berkeley, California. Boren summarizes the subsequent demise: “The increasing militancy of groups such as the Black Panthers, the drug culture … and even the murders of the Charles Manson gang — all served to exacerbate public disaffection with any ‘revolutionaries.’ … As students were faced with either resorting to violence or retooling their resistance machines for slower, less confrontational tactics, many students chose simply to drop out of the political scene.” Growing conservatism further dampened resistance throughout the 1970s. It reawakened in the mid-1980s, when protest against South Africa’s extreme and often violent racial suppression began in African American church groups and soon spread to college campuses. And today, a renaissance has emerged amid #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, and #NeverAgain.

    July 28, 1917: Thousands of people participated in the Silent Parade in New York City (above), including young students and W.E.B. Du Bois. The anti-lynching parade was organzied by the National Association for the Advance-ment of Colored People.

    Over these historical tides, a few tactics have kept resistance afloat and on course. For one, “the most successful formula students have followed is convincingly making an off-campus issue also a campus issue,” says Julie Reuben, professor of the history of American education at the Ed School. Antiwar protests were most effective not when students marched against U.S. involvement in Vietnam, but when they boycotted their campus ROTC chapters. Harvard, for example, downgraded its ROTC program to an extracurricular activity in 1969 after hundreds of students occupied University Hall and 10,000 declared a strike. Anti-apartheid campaigns were most effective not when students marched against the U.S. government’s support of racist policies in South Africa, but when students demanded their universities divest. After Columbia students occupied the main academic building for three weeks, the board of trustees agreed to sell its $39 million in stock of U.S. companies with ties to South Africa, 4 percent of its portfolio. By 1988, 155 schools had divested more than $1 billion, more than half of them after protests inspired by the Columbia campaign. “Localizing an argument is a compelling strategy to engage students and awaken administrations,” says Reuben, who taught the course Campus Activism in the 1960s at the Ed School for many years. More recently, dozens of universities have been quick to dismiss and discipline Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters who’ve staged “die-ins” to raise awareness of police brutality. But students have had more success when directing the racial dialogue that BLM has opened at their own campuses for example, in 2015, protesters at the University of Missouri and Claremont McKenna College in California forced their president and dean, respectively, to resign over mishandling racial incidents.

    Younger students, however, have a better chance to build a movement with the opposite tack. “High school activism takes place best when it’s focused on the outside community, not the school itself,” Reuben says. “Whereas college students are often considered adults, teenagers are often dismissed as acting out when they challenge adult authority within their administration.” (There are rare exceptions. Sixteen-year-old Barbara Johns’ walkout in protest of disgraceful conditions at her all-black high school became a foundational case in Brown v. Board of Education.)

    The sight of children addressing national issues, however, has captured the country’s imagination. In 1917, a white mob killed 38 and injured hundreds more African Americans in St. Louis. In response, hundreds of black children dressed in white and marched hand-in-hand, leading 10,000 African Americans through Manhattan in the Silent Parade, which aimed, as The New York Times reported, to make President Woodrow Wilson aware of the “lawless treatment” of black Americans nationwide. It became a blueprint for the civil rights movement. In 1963, when more than 1,000 children skipped school to march in Birmingham, Alabama, images of police spraying fire hoses and unleashing attack dogs on them ignited a furor that forced the city to desegregate and paved the way for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Children’s Crusade, as it became known, “turned around the entire civil rights movement,” Levinson says. And today, the vigor and anger of children who had just watched their classmates bleed to death in their hallways has propelled the most serious national debate over gun control in years.

    No youth movement has succeeded without adult allies. “Faculty provide internal pressure that students can’t,” Reuben says. The Berkeley free speech movement, the first major act of campus civil disobedience of the 1960s, quickly galvanized thousands of students to advocate for their rights to assemble and to academic freedom. But students gained leverage only when a group of faculty agreed to create the Board of Educational Development (BED) in 1964 and allowed students to help create experimental curriculum. And it was the 1968 elimination of the bed — which then-Governor Ronald Reagan demanded — that quashed the free speech movement. Fifty years later, faculty are generally much more diverse, liberal, and willing to aid student resistance. “The downside is it’s often too easy to gain faculty allies,” Reuben says. “Today it doesn’t necessarily provide the insider-outsider dynamic useful for making change.”

    The quintessence of this trend: In 2015 a University of Missouri communications professor protesting with students was fired after she was approached by a video journalist and yelled, “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle.”

    The never again movement begun by Parkland survivors contains many ingredients to draw wide support. There were the years of tragedies and political inaction that fomented frustration. According to The Washington Post, since the Columbine massacre on April 20, 1999, more than 187,000 students have experienced a shooting at their school. (Dozens of other mass shootings in the same period — at a movie theater, nightclub, concert, church, etc. — enflamed the anger.) There are charismatic student leaders, all born after Columbine, with impassioned, morally grounded messages, such as Parkland survivor Emma González citing a litany of excuses NRA-supported politicians have made for inaction, and shouting “We call B.S.” after each. “Framing the issue as a moral question can grant students a certain moral authority over the authorities,” Reuben says. Ganz adds, “It takes a lot of moral resources to respond to loss in the way that they have. Narrative storytelling is essential to building a movement, and the story the Parkland kids are telling is a redemptive pathway to hope.”

    December 9, 2014: Dozens of students and others from the Ed School staged a die-in (opposite) on the first floor of Gutman Conference Center following non-indictments of the police officers who killed Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

    It also helps that the student leaders lived in a town that was 84 percent white and with a median household income more than double the national median. As Reuben notes, even though “non-whites are much more affected by gun violence, the issue is deeply racialized.” Black student activists had campaigned against gun violence even years before the Black Lives Matter movement began in 2013, but they’ve often been overlooked, demonized, and criminalized. “They’ve had to push against the fear white Americans feel when they see large gatherings of youth of color,” Levinson says. Parkland students, however, have been “able to speak to audiences who in the past have dismissed this issue.”

    As the Never Again movement received millions in donations and celebrity support, and when Florida Governor Rick Scott agreed to meet with survivors to discuss policy changes within a week of the shooting, many contrasted the response with the reception of the Dream Defenders. After the shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012, the student-led Dream Defenders formed to campaign against police brutality and to end Florida’s “stand your ground” defense law, which states that a person who is present at a place where he has a right to be also has the right to use deadly force on another if he “reasonably believes” it is necessary to protect himself or others. For a year and a half they held demonstrations, even occupying the capitol for 31 days, but Governor Scott refused to meet with them.

    “Even the most transcendent movements never fully transcended prejudice,” Levinson adds. She points to the “profound misunderstanding” today that Martin Luther King Jr. was “always widely respected, even cuddly.” In a 1968 Harris poll, after the bus boycotts, the March on Washington, and the Selma to Montgomery Marches, three-quarters of Americans disapproved of King. Whereas the of Americans disapproved of King. Whereas the Parkland survivors drew immediate, widespread support, when students of color have built movements, “it has always been in spite of prejudice, in spite of fear, in spite of skepticism,” says Levinson. Youth of color also face greater risks from police when protesting — clubbed in Greensboro, hosed in Birmingham, pepper-sprayed in Ferguson.

    The Parkland students also benefit and suffer from social media, which wields the power to burgeon and bludgeon global movements within minutes. Just as student activists of the 1960s used the latest technologies — the mimeograph and laser printing — to spread the word from campus to campus, today’s students build coalitions with Google Docs and camera phones. During a national school walkout one month after the Parkland shooting, for example, 15-year-old Justin Blackman was the only student to participate at his high school in North Carolina. But a self-made video of his lone protest garnered more than 6 million views, 14,000 Twitter followers, and an interview on CNN.

    Social media also bears “the risk that activism will start and end online, and achieve little,” Levinson says. Though organizing the March for Our Lives in Boston would have been “impossible” without social media, Lopez-Leyva saw much higher turnout from the student groups he met with than the ones he tweeted to. “When you’re seeing the faces of tragedies among cat videos, the seriousness of these issues can get nullified,” he says. And the more visible student leaders become, the more they subject themselves to trolling. Fake stories “exposing” Parkland survivor and Never Again leader David Hogg as a hired “crisis actor” were widely spread through Google, YouTube, and Facebook. On the other side, after posting a photograph of herself holding a graduation cap and an AR-10 rifle, a gun rights activist at Kent State University received hundreds of death threats. “Social media is as essential to student activism today as it is impossible to control,” Reuben says.

    March 19, 2003: Students at Leonard Flynn Elementary in San Francisco (opposite) protest the threatened war against Iraq.

    In Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest, Zeynep Tufekci, a faculty associate at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, compares the relationship between protesters and the internet to that of climbers of Mount Everest and Nepalese Sherpas, who “give a boost to people who might not otherwise be fully equipped to face the challenges.” What once took semesters’ worth of meetings and debates can now be achieved in a few keystrokes. But without the slog of on-the-ground grassroots organizing, Tufekci writes, activists who begin online often lack the “collective capacities that could prepare them for inevitable challenges they face and give them the ability to respond to what comes next.”

    In the age of social media, youth activists have struggled to enact change. Considering four of the the most prominent youth-led movements this decade — Occupy Wall Street (#occupy), Black Lives Matter (#blm), deferred action for deportation (#Dreamers), and protests against the Dakota Access Pipline (#nodapl) — Levinson says, “Each has had a tangible effect on the world: slowing down DAPL, raising awareness of the 1 percent, Justice Department investigations and consent decrees in a number of cities including Ferguson and Baltimore, DACA — but none yet has a solid, permanent win.”

    Most recently, the student survivors of Parkland named their movement Never Again, aiming to end all school shootings. There were 10 in the two months after Parkland. On May 19, after 10 students were killed at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, a local newscaster asked 17-year-old survivor Paige Curry whether she was surprised by the shooting. “No,” she said. “It’s been happening everywhere. I’ve always kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here, too.”

    Hearing these words, Lopez-Leyva felt “heartbroken, and recognized that our movement remains incomplete.” While organizing the March for Our Lives in Boston, he missed many classes, his grades slipped, and much more strenuous work remains to secure the movement’s larger goal of voting out of office opponents of stricter gun control. “Making change requires a long-term commitment on multiple fronts. The work is often boring and almost always slow. What we have on our side,” says Lopez-Leyva, “is patience, perseverance, personal liberties, and the ballot.”

    Ganz says that “because the status quo is always going to have more money and political power, failure is an inevitable, and in some ways essential, part of youth movements. The challenge is to turn them into learning opportunities and have the moral resources for the resilience that it takes to do that.”

    As Martin Luther King Jr. said, quoting an 1853 speech from the abolitionist minister Theodore Parker, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Throughout his 13 years as a civil rights leader, King often invoked these words to maintain activists’ hopes and fervor. Fifty years after his death, even amid a new Year of the Student, they are words in constant need of repeating.


    The name Manchester originates from the Latin name Mamucium or its variant Mancunio. These names are generally thought to represent a Latinisation of an original Brittonic name. The generally accepted etymology of this name is that it comes from Brittonic *mamm- ("breast", in reference to a "breast-like hill"). [5] [6] [7] However, more recent work suggests that it could come from *mamma ("mother", in reference to a local river goddess). Both usages are preserved in Insular Celtic languages, such as mam meaning "breast" in Irish and "mother" in Welsh. [8] The suffix -chester is from Old English ceaster ("Roman fortification", itself a loanword from Latin castra, "fort fortified town"). [6] [5]

    The Latin name for Manchester is often given as Mancuniun. This is most likely a neologism coined in Victorian times, similar to the widespread Latin name Cantabrigia for Cambridge (whose actual name in Roman times was Duroliponte [9] ).

    Prehistoric evidence of human activity in the area of Manchester is limited, although scattered stone tools have been found. [10]

    There is evidence of Bronze Age activity around Manchester in the form of burial sites. [10] Although some prehistoric artefacts have been discovered in the city centre, these have come from redeposited layers, meaning they do not necessarily originate from where they were found wider evidence has been found for activity in other parts of the borough. [11] Before the Roman invasion of Britain, the location lay within the territory dominated by the Brigantes and prior to the Roman conquest of the area in the 70s AD, it was part of the territory of the Brigantes, a Celtic tribe, although it may have been under the control of the Setantii, a sub-tribe of the Brigantes. [12]

    For the important prehistoric farm site at Oversley Farm, see Oversleyford § Oversley Farm.

    The Roman fort of Mamucium was established c. AD 79 near a crossing point on the River Medlock. [13] The fort was sited on a sandstone bluff near the confluence of the rivers Medlock and Irwell in a naturally defensible position. [14] It was erected as a series of fortifications established by Gnaeus Julius Agricola during his campaign against the Brigantes who were the Celtic tribe in control of most of what would become northern England. [15] It guards the Deva Victrix (Chester) to Eboracum (York) Roman road running east to west, and a road heading north to Bremetennacum (Ribchester). [16] The neighbouring forts were Castleshaw and Northwich. [17] Built first from turf and timber, the fort was demolished around 140. When it was rebuilt around 160, it was again of turf and timber construction. [18] In about 200 the fort underwent another rebuild, this time enhancing the defences by replacing the gatehouse with a stone version and facing the walls with stone. [19] The fort would have been garrisoned by a cohort, about 500 infantry, of auxiliary troops. [20]

    Evidence of both pagan and Christian worship has been discovered. Two altars have been discovered and there may be a temple of Mithras associated with Mamucium. A word square was discovered in the 1970s that may be one of the earliest examples of Christianity in Britain. [21] A civilian settlement (the first in Manchester), or vicus, grew in association with the fort, made up of traders and families of the soldiers. An area which has a concentration of furnaces and industrial activity has been described as an industrial estate. [22] The vicus was probably abandoned by the mid 3rd century, although a small garrison may have remained at Mamucium into the late 3rd and early 4th centuries. [23] The Castlefield area of Manchester is named after the fort.

    Once the Romans left Britain, the focus of settlement in Manchester shifted to the confluence of the rivers Irwell and Irk. [24] During the Early Middle Ages that followed – and persisted until the Norman conquest – the settlement of Manchester was in the territory of several different kingdoms. [25] In the late 6th and early 7th centuries, the kingdom of Northumbria extended as far south as the River Mersey, south of what was then the settlement of Manchester. [25] Etymological evidence indicates that the areas to the north west of Manchester (such as Eccles and Chadderton) were British while the parts of Manchester (such as Clayton, Gorton and Moston) were Anglian, and the south west of Manchester was Danish (including Cheadle Hulme, Davyhulme, Hulme and Levenshulme). [25]

    Between the 6th and 10th centuries, the kingdoms of Northumbria, Mercia and Wessex struggled for control over North West England. [25] In 620, Edwin of Northumbria may have sacked Manchester, and the settlement may have been sacked again in 870 by the Danes. [26] According to legend, Nico Ditch – which runs east–west from Ashton-under-Lyne to Stretford and passes through Gorton, Levenshulme, Burnage, Rusholme, Platt Field Park in Fallowfield, Withington and Chorlton-cum-Hardy – is a defence against Viking invaders and was dug in 869–870. Whether this is true is uncertain, but the ditch does date from between the 7th and 9th centuries. [27] The Anglo Saxon Chronicle detail that in 919 Edward the Elder sent men "to Mameceaster, in Northumbria, to repair and man it" this probably refers to a burh at Manchester as an advanced post of Mercia. Although it is unsure where the site is, [28] it is possibly a reference to the Roman fort. [26] In 1055, most of what later became Lancashire was under the control of Tostig. [26]

    The ancient parish of Manchester covered a wider area than today's metropolitan borough (although not including its full extent), and was probably established in the Anglo-Saxon period (there were at that time only two churches in the parish: at Manchester and Ashton-under-Lyne). Forty distinct townships developed in the parish and in medieval times the royal manor of Salford was the most important of these.

    Manchester was administratively part of the Salford Hundred. [29] In 1086 the hundred covered about 350 square miles (910 km 2 ) and had a population of about 3,000. [30] It was given to Roger de Poitou Roger divided the hundred into fiefdoms and made the Gresle family barons of Manchester. Albert de Gresle was the first baron of Manchester. [29] Although the Gresle family did not reside at the manor, Manchester continued to grow in their absence and stewards represented the lords of the manor. [31]

    Manchester's entry in the Domesday Book reads "the Church of St Mary and the Church of St Michael hold one carucate of land in Manchester exempt from all customary dues except tax". [32] St Mary's Church was an Anglo-Saxon church on the site of Manchester Cathedral [32] St Michael's Church may have been in Ashton-under-Lyne. [30] The parish of Manchester – of which St Mary's Church was a part – was the ecclesiastical centre of the Salford Hundred. It covered about 60 square miles (160 km 2 ) and extended as far as the edges of Flixton and Eccles in the west, the Mersey between Stretford and Stockport in the south, the edge of Ashton-under-Lyne in the east, and the edge of Prestwich in the north. [30] That such a large area was covered by a single parish has been taken as evidence of the area's "impoverished and depopulated status". The only tax the parish was subject to was Danegeld. [30]

    There was a castle in Manchester overlooking the rivers Irk and Irwell, where Chetham's School of Music stands today. [29] This castle was probably a ringwork [33] and has been described as "of no political or military importance". [29] By the late 13th century the Grelleys or Gresles, who were barons of Manchester for two centuries, [29] had replaced the castle with a fortified manor house. They used the house as the administrative centre of the manor. [34] While the town was owned by the lords of the manor, they directly leased land to tenants and created burgage tenements for indirect rent as well as containing a house, these plots of land could also contain workshops and gardens. [34] The family also owned the only corn mill in the manor which was used by all the tenants of the manor to grind their corn. Medieval Manchester was centred on the manor house and the Church of St Mary mentioned in the Domesday Book. [34] As well as a castle at Manchester, there was also one in Ringway. Ullerwood Castle, a motte-and-bailey, probably dates from the 12th century and was owned by Hamon de Massey who owned several manors in the north east of Cheshire. [35]

    The first lord of the manor to actually live in Manchester was Robert Grelley (1174–1230) his presence led to an influx of skilled workers, such as stonemasons and carpenters, associated with the construction of the manor house. [36] In the early 13th century, Manchester for a period was not under the control of the Grelleys. Robert Grelley was one of the barons who made King John sign Magna Carta. Grelley was excommunicated for his role in the rebellion and when King John later ignored the terms of Magna Carta, Grelley forfeited his lands. King John died in 1216 and Hubert de Burgh, 1st Earl of Kent, returned Grelley's land to him on behalf of King Henry III [36] In the medieval period Manchester grew into a market town and had a market every Saturday. [37] In 1223, Manchester gained the right to hold an annual fair the market was held in Acresfield – where St Ann's Square is today – on what was then arable land. It was the first fair to be established in the Salford Hundred and the fourth in south Lancashire. [38] Manchester became a market town in 1301 when it received its Charter. [34] On 1 November 1315, Manchester was the starting place of a rebellion by Adam Banastre. [31] Banastre, Henry de Lea, and William de Bradshagh rebelled against Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster. [39]

    The medieval town's defences incorporated the rivers Irk and Irwell on two sides and a 450-yard (410 m) long ditch on the others. The ditch, known as Hanging Ditch, was up to 40 yards (37 m) wide and 40 yards (37 m) deep. It was spanned by Hanging Bridge, the main route in and out of the town. The name may derive from hangan meaning hollow, [40] although there is an alternative derivation from the Old English hen, meaning wild birds, and the Welsh gan, meaning between two hills. [41] It dates to at least 1343 but may be even older. [42]

    In the 14th century, Manchester became home to a community of Flemish weavers, who settled in the town to produce wool and linen. This in part helped to develop a tradition of cloth production in the region, which in turn sparked the growth of the city to become Lancashire's major industrial centre. The various townships and chapelries of the ancient parish of Manchester became separate civil parishes in 1866.

    Thomas de la Warre was a Lord of the Manor and also a priest. He obtained licences from the Pope and King Henry V to enable him to found and endow a collegiate church, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, St. George and St. Denys or St. Denis, the latter two being the patron saints of England and France respectively. Construction began around 1422, and continued until the first quarter of the 16th century. The 'merchant princes' of the town endowed a number of chantry chapels, reflecting an increasing prosperity based on wool. This church later became Manchester Cathedral.

    Thomas also gave the site of the old manor house as a residence for the priests. It remains as one of the finest examples of a medieval secular religious building in Britain and is now the home of Chetham's School of Music.

    By the 16th century the wool trade had made Manchester a flourishing market town. The collegiate church, which is now the cathedral, was finally completed in 1500–1510. The magnificent carved choir stalls date from this period, and in 1513 work began on a chapel endowed by James Stanley, Bishop of Ely, in thanksgiving for the safe return of his kinsman (sometimes said to be his son) John Stanley from the Battle of Flodden.

    The English Reformation resulted in the collegiate church being refounded as a Protestant institution. One of the more famous Wardens of this institution at the time was Dr John Dee, known as "Queen Elizabeth's Merlin".

    The town's growth was given further impetus in 1620 with the start of fustian weaving. In this period Manchester grew heavily due to an influx of Flemish settlers who founded Manchester's new weaving industry. [43] In the course of the 17th century, thanks to the development of the textile industry and contacts with the City of London, Manchester became a noted centre of puritanism. Consequently, it sided with Parliament in the quarrel with Charles I. Indeed, it might be said that the English Civil War started here. In 1642, Lord Strange, the Royalist son of the Earl of Derby attempted to seize the militia magazine stored in the old college building. In the ensuing scuffle, Richard Percival, a linen weaver, was killed. He is reckoned by some to be the first casualty in the English Civil War.

    Lord Strange returned and attempted to besiege the town, which had no permanent fortifications. With the help of John Rosworm, a German mercenary, the town was vigorously defended. Captain Bradshaw and his musketeers resolutely manned the bridge to Salford. Eventually, Strange realised that his force was ill-prepared, and after hearing that his father had died, withdrew to claim his title.

    During the Commonwealth, Manchester was granted a seat in Parliament for the first time. Maj Gen Charles Worsley, scion of an old Lancashire family and one of Cromwell's most trusted lieutenants, had been given the Mace at the famous dissolution of Parliament in 1654. Elected Manchester's first MP, he did not sit for long before Parliament was again dissolved, leading to the Rule of the Major Generals: effectively martial law. Worsley, given responsibility for Lancashire, Cheshire and Staffordshire, took his duties seriously, turning out alehouses, banning bear baiting and cracking down on the celebration of Christmas. He eventually died in 1656, at a time of the gradual ebbing away of Cromwell's authority. [44]

    On the English Restoration in 1660, as a reprisal for its defence of the Parliamentarian cause, Manchester was deprived of its recently granted Members of Parliament. No MP was to sit for Manchester until 1832. The consequences of the restoration led to a great deal of soul searching. One clergyman, Henry Newcombe, could not remain in the remodelled Anglican Church, and was instrumental in the establishment of the Cross Street Chapel in 1694. This later passed into Unitarian hands, and a new chapel on the original site can be visited.

    Humphrey Chetham purchased the old college buildings after the civil war, and endowed it as a bluecoat school. Chetham's Hospital, as it was known, later became Chetham's School of Music. The endowment included a collection of books, which in 1653 became Chetham's Library, the first free public library in the English-speaking world. As of 2017, it is still open and free to use. [45]

    Despite the political setbacks, the town continued to prosper. A number of inhabitants supported the Glorious Revolution in 1688. They became discontented with the Tory clergy at the collegiate church, and a separate church, more to their tastes, was founded by Lady Ann Bland. St Ann's Church is a fine example of an early Georgian church, and was consecrated in 1712. The surroundings, what is now St Ann's Square but was previously known as Acresfield, were in imitation of a London square.

    About this time, Defoe described the place as "the greatest mere village in England", by which he meant that a place the size of a populous market town had no form of local government to speak of, and was still subject to the whims of a lord of the manor.

    In 1745, Charles Edward Stuart and his army entered Manchester en route to London. Despite its previous radicalism, the town offered no resistance and the Jacobites obtained enough recruits to form a 'Manchester Regiment'. It is suggested that this was because the town had no local government to speak of, and the magistrates, who could have organised resistance, were mostly conservative landowners. Moreover, these Tory landowners had taken to apprenticing their sons to Manchester merchants, so the political complexion of the town's elite had changed. The Jacobite army got no further than Derby and then retreated. On their way back through Manchester, the stragglers were pelted by the mob. The luckless 'Manchester Regiment' were left behind to garrison Carlisle, where they quickly surrendered to the pursuing British Army.

    Manchester remained a small market town until the late 18th century and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The Spinning Jenny in 1764 marked the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and brought with it the first fully mechanised production process, although some sources define the start of the Industrial Revolution as July 1761, when the Duke of Bridgewater's canal reached Castlefield. [47] The myriad small valleys in the Pennine Hills to the north and east of the town, combined with the damp climate, proved ideal for the construction of water-powered cotton mills such as Quarry Bank Mill, [48] which industrialised the spinning and weaving of cloth.

    Indeed, it was the importing of cotton, which began towards the end of the 18th century, that revolutionised the textile industry in the area. This new commodity was imported through the port of Liverpool, which was connected with Manchester by the Mersey and Irwell Navigation—the two rivers had been made navigable from the 1720s onwards.

    Manchester now developed as the natural distribution centre for raw cotton and spun yarn, and a marketplace and distribution centre for the products of this growing textile industry. Richard Arkwright is credited as the first to erect a cotton mill in the city. His first experiment, installing a Newcomen steam engine to pump water for a waterwheel failed, but he next adapted a Watt steam engine to directly operate the machinery. The result was the rapid spread of cotton mills throughout Manchester itself and in the surrounding towns. To these must be added bleach works, textile print works, and the engineering workshops and foundries, all serving the cotton industry. During the mid-19th century Manchester grew to become the centre of Lancashire's cotton industry and was dubbed "Cottonopolis", and a branch of the Bank of England was established in 1826.

    The city had one of the first telephone exchanges in Europe (possibly the first in the UK) when in 1879 one was opened on Faulkner Street in the city centre using the Bell patent system. [49] By 1881 it had 420 subscribers—just 7 years later a new exchange had the capacity for 10 times that number. Manchester Central exchange was still the largest outside the capital in Edwardian times when it employed 200 operators and the city had several other important roles in the history of telephony.

    The growth of the city was matched by the expansion of its transport links. The growth of steam power meant that demand for coal rocketed. To meet this demand, the first canal of the industrial era, the Duke's Canal, often referred to as the Bridgewater Canal, was opened in 1761, linking Manchester to the coal mines at Worsley. This was soon extended to the Mersey Estuary. Soon an extensive network of canals was constructed, linking Manchester to all parts of England.

    One of the world's first public omnibus services began in 1824 it ran from Market Street in Manchester to Pendleton and Salford.

    The world's first steam passenger railway Edit

    In 1830, Manchester was again at the forefront of transport technology with the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the world's first steam passenger railway. This provided faster transport of raw materials and finished goods between the port of Liverpool and mills of Manchester. By 1838, Manchester was connected by rail with Birmingham and London, and by 1841 with Hull. The existing horse-drawn omnibus services were all acquired by the Manchester Carriage Company, Ltd in 1865. Horse-drawn trams began in Salford (1877) and Manchester (1880–81), were succeeded by electric trams in 1901–03 and by 1930 Manchester Corporation Tramways were running the third largest system in the UK. [50]

    The Industrial Revolution resulted in Manchester's population exploding as people moved from other parts of the British Isles into the city seeking new opportunities.

    Particularly large numbers came from Ireland, especially after the Great Famine of the 1840s. In 1851 it was estimated that 15% of the population of Manchester were Irish born. The first Irish community in the city was said to date back to 1798 and with further waves of immigration from Ireland coming after the second World War. The Irish influence continues to this day and, every March Manchester plays host to a large St Patrick's Day parade. It is estimated that about 35% of the population of Manchester and Salford has some Irish ancestry. [51]

    Scottish migration in to Manchester can be traced back to before 1745 when the Jacobites marched through the city but the population of Scottish born residents peaked at almost 2% of the city's total population in 1871. Many of the city's machine making firms which powered the Industrial Revolution had their roots in emigrant Scottish engineers. [52]

    A Welsh community has existed in Manchester since the 16th century. [53] In 1892 there was 80,000 Welsh born residents in the North West of England with particularly high concentrations in Manchester and Liverpool. David Lloyd George was born in the city and Welsh socialist Robert Jones Derfel spent much of his life in the city. [54]

    Large numbers of (mostly Jewish) immigrants later came to Manchester from Central and Eastern Europe. The area, including Broughton, Prestwich and Whitefield today has a Jewish population of about 40,000. This is the largest Jewish community outside London by quite some way. To these groups may be added (in later years) Levantines (involved in the Egyptian cotton trade), Germans and Italians. The German influence can be seen in the city's Halle Orchestra and the Ancoats area of the city was known as Little Italy. By the beginning of the 20th century, Manchester was a very cosmopolitan place and had additionally received immigrants from France, Greece, Armenia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine. The opening of the Manchester Ship Canal in 1894 lead to influx of workers from Africa, Asia, Middle East and Scandinavia.

    There has been a presence of Black people in Manchester since the 1700s. There are records of black people being buried at Manchester Cathedral from 1757. The abolitionist Thomas Clarkson noted during a speech in Manchester in 1787 "'I was surprised also to find a great crowd of black people standing round the pulpit. There might be forty or fifty of them.' [55]

    From the 1940s onwards further waves of immigration brought Cypriots and Hungarians fleeing conflict but in the largest numbers came people re-settling from the British Colonies of the Indian subcontinent, Caribbean and Hong Kong. There has been a Chinese community in the city since the early 20th century. [56] Chinatown, Manchester is said to be the second largest in the United Kingdom and the third largest in Europe.

    From the 1990s onwards Kosovans, Afghans, Iraqis and Congolese have settled in the area. [57]

    It has been suggested as a result of the last two hundred years that Manchester having been involved in all these periods of immigration is the most polyglot of all British cities aside from London [58]

    The unconventional background of such a diverse population stimulated intellectual and artistic life. The Manchester Academy, for example, opened in Mosley Street in 1786, having enjoyed an earlier incarnation as the Warrington Academy. It was originally run by Presbyterians being one of the few dissenting academies that provided religious nonconformists, who were excluded from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, with higher education. It taught classics, radical theology, science, modern languages, language and history. In the arts, the Hallé Orchestra, was patronised in its early years, by the German community and attracted a loyal following.

    Manchester's rapid growth into a significant industrial centre meant the pace of change was fast and frightening. At that time, it seemed a place in which anything could happen—new industrial processes, new ways of thinking (the so-called 'Manchester School', promoting free trade and laissez-faire), new classes or groups in society, new religious sects and new forms of labour organisation. Such radicalism culminated in the opening of the Free Trade Hall which had several incarnations until its current building was occupied in 1856. It attracted educated visitors from all parts of Britain and Europe. "What Manchester does today," it was said, "the rest of the world does tomorrow." Benjamin Disraeli, at that time a young novelist, had one of his characters express such sentiments. "The age of ruins is past . Have you seen Manchester? Manchester is as great a human exploit as Athens . " [59]

    At the beginning of the 19th century, Manchester was still governed by a court leet on the medieval model, and a Boroughreeve was responsible for law and order during the daylight hours. The Manchester and Salford Police Act of 1792 created Police Commissioners, whose job was to provide a night-watch. The commissioners were also given responsibility for road-building, street cleaning, street lighting and the maintenance of fire engines. [60]

    The end of the 18th century saw the first serious recession in the textile trade. There were food riots in 1797, and soup kitchens were established in 1799. Manchester was the scene of the Blanketeer agitation in 1817. Popular unrest was paralleled by discontent with Manchester's lack of representation at Westminster, and the town quickly became a centre of radical agitation.

    The protest turned to bloodshed in the summer of 1819. A meeting was held in St Peter's Field on 16 August to demonstrate for parliamentary reform. It was addressed by Henry Hunt, a powerful speaker known as Orator Hunt. Local magistrates, fearful of the large crowd estimated at 60,000–80,000, ordered volunteer cavalry from the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry to clear a way through the crowd to arrest Hunt and the platform party. The Yeomanry were armed with sabres and some reports say that many of them were drunk. They lost control and started to strike out at members of the crowd. The magistrates, believing that the Yeomanry were under attack, then ordered the 15th Hussars to disperse the crowd, which they did by charging into the mass of men, women and children, sabres drawn. These events resulted in the deaths of fifteen people and over six hundred injured. The name "Peterloo" was coined immediately by the radical Manchester Observer, combining the name of the meeting place, St Peter's Field, with the Battle of Waterloo fought four years earlier. One of those who later died from his wounds had been present at Waterloo, and told a friend shortly before his death that he had never been in such danger as at Peterloo: "At Waterloo there was man to man but there it was downright murder." [61]

    The Manchester Guardian, a newspaper with a radical agenda, was established shortly afterwards. In 1832, following the Great Reform Act, Manchester elected its first MPs since the election of 1656. Five candidates, including William Cobbett, stood and Liberals Charles Poulett Thomson and Mark Philips were elected. The Great Reform Act led to conditions favourable to municipal incorporation. Manchester became a municipal borough in 1838, [62] and what remained of the manorial rights were later purchased by the town council.

    The prosperity from the textile industry led to an expansion of Manchester and the surrounding conurbation. Many institutions were established including Belle Vue Zoological Gardens (founded by John Jennison in 1836), the Manchester Athenaeum (1836–37), the Corn Exchange (1837) and the Royal Victoria Gallery of Practical Science (1840–42).

    This wealth fuelled the development of science and education in Manchester. The Manchester Academy had moved to York in 1803 and, though it returned in 1840, in 1853 it moved again to London, eventually becoming Harris Manchester College, Oxford. However, a Mechanics' Institute, later to become UMIST, was founded in 1824 by among others, John Dalton the "father of atomic theory". In 1851 Owens College was founded by the trustees of John Owens, a textile merchant who had left a bequest for that purpose. Owens College was to become the first constituent college of the Victoria University which was granted its Royal Charter in 1880. This flowering of radicalism and reform took place within the context of ferment in Manchester's cultural and intellectual life. John Dalton lectured on his atomic theory at the Literary and Philosophical Society in 1803. The establishment of the Portico Library in 1806, the Royal Manchester Institution (later the Art Gallery) in 1823, and the Manchester Botanical and Horticultural Society in 1827 are evidence of this.

    The growth of city government continued with Manchester finally being incorporated as a borough in 1838, covering what is now the city centre, along with Cheetham, Beswick, Ardwick, Chorlton upon Medlock and Hulme.

    In 1841, Robert Angus Smith took up work as an analytical chemist at the Royal Manchester Institution and started to research the unprecedented environmental problems. Smith went on to become the first director of the Alkali Inspectorate and to characterise, and coin the term, acid rain.

    Manchester continued to be a nexus of political radicalism. From 1842 to 1844, the German social philosopher Friedrich Engels lived there and wrote his influential book Condition of the Working Class in England (1845). He habitually met Karl Marx in an alcove at Chetham's Library.

    In 1846 the Borough bought the manorial rights from the Mosley family and the granting of city status followed in 1853.

    In 1847 the Manchester diocese of the Church of England was established.

    In 1851, the Borough became the first local authority to seek water supplies beyond its boundaries.

    By 1853, the number of cotton mills in Manchester had reached its peak of 108. [63] Warehouses became commonplace in what now makes up the city centre. These 19th century Mancunian warehouses were often decorative and ornate for a building of such simple function. The most notable 19th century warehouse is Watts Warehouse on Portland Street.

    The Cooperative Wholesale Society was formed in 1863. [64] Manchester is now home to the Co-operative Group, the largest mutual business in the world with over six million members. The group remained based on their listed estate in Manchester city centre.

    The outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861 saw an immediate shortage of cotton and the ensuing cotton famine brought enormous distress to the area until the war ended in 1865.

    The first Trades Union Congress was held in Manchester (at the Mechanics' Institute, David Street), from 2 to 6 June 1868. Manchester was the subject of Friedrich Engels' The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844, Engels himself spending much of his life in and around Manchester. Manchester was also an important cradle of the Labour Party and the Suffragette Movement.

    Manchester's golden age was perhaps the last quarter of the 19th century. Many of the great public buildings (including the town hall) date from then. The city's cosmopolitan atmosphere contributed to a vibrant culture, which included the Hallé Orchestra. In 1889, when county councils were created in England, the municipal borough became a county borough with even greater autonomy.

    During the late 19th century Manchester began to suffer an economic decline, partly exacerbated by its reliance on the Port of Liverpool, which was charging excessive dock usage fees. Championed by local industrialist Daniel Adamson, the Manchester Ship Canal was built as a way to reverse this. It gave the city direct access to the sea allowing it to export its manufactured goods directly. This meant that it no longer had to rely on the railways and Liverpool's ports. When completed in 1894 it allowed Manchester to become Britain's third busiest port, despite being 40 miles (64 km) inland. The Manchester Ship Canal was created by canalising the Rivers Irwell and Mersey for 36 miles (58 km) from Salford to the Mersey estuary at the port of Liverpool. This enabled oceangoing ships to sail right into the Port of Manchester (actually in Salford). The docks functioned until the 1970s when their closure led to a large increase in unemployment in the area.

    The world's first industrial estate Edit

    Trafford Park in Stretford (outside the city boundaries) was the world's first industrial estate and still exists today, though with a significant tourist and recreational presence. Manchester suffered greatly from the inter-war depression and the underlying structural changes that began to supplant the old industries, including textile manufacture.

    Expansion of the city limits was constrained westwards (with the borough of Salford immediately to the west, having been given a charter in 1844). These areas were included in the city limits of Manchester at these dates:-

    • 1885: Harpurhey, Bradford-with-Beswick, Rusholme
    • 1890: Crumpsall, Blackley and Moston, Newton Heath, Clayton, Openshaw, West Gorton
    • 1903: Heaton Park. So far most expansion had been northerly and easterly.
    • 1904: Moss Side, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Withington, Burnage, Didsbury, all to the south.
    • 1909: Gorton, Levenshulme.
    • 1931: The parishes of Northenden, Baguley and Northen Etchells, beyond the River Mersey, previously in Bucklow Rural District in Cheshire. They later formed the Wythenshawe housing estate. This followed an unsuccessful attempt to annex the same area in 1927. [65]
    • 1974 (Local Government Act 1972): Ringway, Manchester International Airport.

    By 1900 the Manchester city region was the 9th most populous in the world. [66] In the early 20th century Manchester's economy diversified into engineering chemical and electrical industries. The stimulus of the ship canal saw the establishment of Trafford Park, the world's first industrial park, in 1910 and the arrival of the Ford Motor Company and Westinghouse Electric Corporation from the USA. The influence is still visible in "Westinghouse Road" and a grid layout of numbered streets and avenues.

    In 1931 the population of Manchester reached an all-time peak of 766,311. However, the period from the 1930s onwards saw a continuous decline in population. During this period, textile manufacture, Manchester's traditional staple industry went into steep decline, largely due to the Great Depression of the 1930s and foreign competition.

    Significant changes in this period were the move of the Manchester Royal Infirmary from Piccadilly in 1908 and the building of a new public library and town hall extension in the 1930s.

    Second World War Edit

    In the Second World War Manchester played a key role as an industrial manufacturing city, including the Avro aircraft factory (now BAE Systems) which built countless aircraft for the RAF, the most famous being the Avro Lancaster bomber. As a consequence of its war efforts, the city suffered heavily from bombing during the Blitz in 1940 to 1941. It was attacked a number of times by the Luftwaffe, particularly in the "Christmas Blitz" of December 1940, which destroyed a large part of the historic city centre and seriously damaged the cathedral.

    Post-war Edit

    The Royal Exchange ceased trading in 1968.

    The 1950s saw the start of Manchester's rise as a football superpower. Despite the Munich air disaster, Manchester United F.C. went on to become one of the world's most famous clubs, rising to a dominance of the English game from the early 1990s onwards.

    Mancunian Films had been established by John E. Blakeley in the 1930s as a vehicle for northern comedians such as George Formby and Frank Randle. The company opened its own studios in Manchester in 1947 and produced a successful sequence of films until Blakeley's retirement six years later. The studio was sold to the BBC in 1954, the same year that saw the advent of commercial television in the UK. The establishment of Granada Television based in the city attracted much of the production talent from the studios and continued Manchester's tradition of cultural innovation, often with its trademark social radicalism in its programming.

    The same period saw the rise to national celebrity of local stars from the Granada TV soap opera Coronation Street, which was first aired on ITV in December 1960 and remains on air more than 50 years later.

    The city also attracted international media and public attention for the success of its two senior football clubs—Manchester United and Manchester City.

    Manchester United had won two league titles and a FA Cup in the first two decades of the 20th century, but the inter-war years had been blighted by a loss of form on the pitch and ongoing financial problems. The club's revival occurred with the appointment of Matt Busby as manager in 1945 he guided the club to an FA Cup triumph in 1948 and a league title in 1952. He then built a highly successful new side consisting of mostly young players (nicknamed the Busby Babes by the media) which went on to win two league titles and became the first English club to play in the new European Cup. Then tragedy struck in February 1958 eight of the club's players (three of them established England internationals Roger Byrne, Tommy Taylor and Duncan Edwards) died as a result of the Munich air disaster on the return flight from a European Cup tie in Yugoslavia and two others injured to such an extent that they never played again. Busby, who was seriously injured in the crash, was left to build a new team. [67] His new United side, built around Munich crash survivors including Bill Foulkes and Bobby Charlton, went on to dominate the English game in the 1960s, featuring new stars like Denis Law and George Best, winning two more league titles, a FA Cup and then the European Cup in 1968—the first English club to win the trophy. Busby retired the following year after 24 years in charge. [68] The club was less successful in the 1970s, its only major trophy of the decade being the FA Cup in 1977, and the club even spent a season outside the top division of English football. The 1980s were slightly more successful with a further two FA Cups wins and regular top four league finishes, but the club has enjoyed an unmatched run of success which began after the appointment of Alex Ferguson as manager in 1986. By the time Ferguson retired in 2013 after 27 years as manager, the club had won a further 13 league titles, five FA Cups, four League Cups and two European Cups. High-profile players to have played for the club during Sir Alex Ferguson's management (he was knighted in 1999) include Bryan Robson, Mark Hughes, Ryan Giggs, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney.

    Manchester City entered the Football League in 1899, and won their first major honour with the FA Cup in 1904. Manchester City had been league champions once and FA Cup winners twice by 1939, but enjoyed further success in the post-war years, starting with an FA Cup win in 1956. The club's next success came more than a decade later, with a league championship triumph in 1968, an FA Cup triumph in 1969, and a double of the European Cup Winners' Cup and Football League Cup in 1970 under the management of Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison. Great players of the 1950s and 1960s sides included Don Revie, Bert Trautmann, Francis Lee, Colin Bell and Tony Book. [69] They won the League Cup in 1976 but after losing the 1981 FA Cup Final, the club went through a period of decline, which eventually saw them relegated as far down as third tier of English football by the end of the 1997–98 season.

    They since regained promotion to the top tier in 2001–02 and have remained a fixture in the Premier League since 2002–03. For 80 years until 2003, the club had played at the Maine Road stadium in the Moss Side area of the city, before moving to the City of Manchester Stadium to the east of the city centre, which had been constructed for the previous year's Commonwealth Games. In 2008, Manchester City was purchased by Abu Dhabi United Group for £210 million and received considerable financial investment. The club's next major trophy was the FA Cup in 2011. The club's first top division league title for 44 years followed in 2012, and a League Cup triumph followed in 2014.

    The club have now won six domestic league titles. Under the management of Pep Guardiola they won the Premier League in 2018 becoming the only Premier League team to attain 100 points in a single season. In 2019, they won four trophies, completing an unprecedented sweep of all domestic trophies in England and becoming the first English men's team to win the domestic treble. [70] Manchester City's revenue was the fifth highest of a football club in the world in the 2017–18 season at €527.7 million. [71] [72] In 2018, Forbes estimated the club was the fifth most valuable in the world at $2.47 billion. [73]

    As with many British cities during the period. The 1950s and 1960s saw extensive re-development of the city, with old and overcrowded housing cleared to make way for high-rise blocks of flats. This changed the appearance of Manchester considerably, although the high-rise experiment later proved unpopular and unsuccessful. The city-centre also saw major re-development, with developments such as the Manchester Arndale.

    Manchester's key role in the industrial revolution was repeated and the city became a centre of research and development. Manchester made important contributions to the computer revolution. The father of modern computing Alan Turing was based at Manchester University and it was his idea of the stored-program concept that led in 1948 to the Manchester Baby, which was the first electronic stored-program computer to run a programme. This was developed by Frederic C. Williams and Tom Kilburn at the University of Manchester. This was followed by the Manchester Mark 1, in 1949. These inventions were commercialised in the Ferranti Mark 1, one of the first commercially available computers.

    In the late 1950s, Manchester was chosen as a testing ground for a new telephone service which formed the foundations of what we now know of as mobile phone technology. The "Post Office South Lancashire Radiophone Service" was controlled from the city's Peterloo telephone exchange and enabled customers with the apparatus installed in their vehicle to phone to any UK subscriber.

    In 1974, Manchester was split from the county of Lancashire, and the Metropolitan Borough of Manchester was created.

    The diversification of the city's economy helped to cushion the blow of this decline. However, as with many inner-city areas, the growth of car ownership and commuting meant that many people moved from the inner-city and into surrounding suburbs. By 1971 the population of Manchester had declined to 543,868, and by 2001 422,302.

    Unintended Consequences of Basing Civil Commitment on Dangerousness Rather than A Need for Treatment

    Although the shift toward strict dangerousness criteria for civil commitment was based on the honorable intentions of protecting the rights of individuals with mental illnesses and ensuring that they received effective treatment delivered in the least socially disruptive settings, serious unintended negative consequences have occurred. Because an inpatient stay is often the first step in treatment for people with mental illness, one consequence of the shift toward dangerousness criteria has been compromised access to psychiatric care for nondangerous individuals with mental illness who need but are refusing treatment. Under treatment-driven criteria for commitment, these persons would have gained access to the system through hospitalization on an involuntary basis if necessary. However, under standards based on dangerousness, the medical system will not intervene against a person's wishes until he or she becomes suicidal, physically violent, or grossly unable to perform activities of daily living. Through interviews of mothers of individuals with mental illness, Copeland learned that current civil commitment criteria force relatives to watch their loved ones go through progressive stages of psychiatric decompensation before they can get them any help at all. 21

    Furthermore, since the tightening of criteria for involuntary psychiatric hospitalization, the United States has seen a trend of persons with mental illness being marginalized to unsafe and inappropriate settings. Since deinstitutionalization, there has been a tremendous increase in America's population of people with mental illness who are living on the streets. 8,22,23 The latest estimates by the United States' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reveal that up to 25 percent of our country's homeless population is made up of individuals with mental disorders, despite the fact that only approximately six percent of the general population suffers from mental illness. 23

    Individuals with mental illness are not only overrepresented in our nation's homeless population, but they are overrepresented among the United States' correctional population as well. Since the 1970s, coincident with deinstitutionalization and reform of civil commitment standards toward dangerousness criteria, the trend of 𠇌riminalization of the mentally ill” has occurred. 24 It is currently estimated that, among our country's prison inmates, there is a 10- to 25-percent prevalence of mental illness. 22,24 Many of these mentally ill inmates are nonviolent offenders, 8 a fair number of whom were convicted of survival crimes (e.g., theft of food or trespassing for shelter) related to limitations in social functioning and ability to meet basic needs because of chronic mental illness. 25 It has been shown that people with mental illness are arrested more often than people without mental illness that encounter law enforcement under similar circumstances. Additionally, persons who have been civilly committed in the past have a higher likelihood of arrest than persons with histories of voluntary psychiatric hospital stays. One reason that police cite as a motivating factor for taking people with mental disorders into criminal custody rather than to hospital emergency rooms is that the justice system is a more likely route through which long-term care can be achieved. It is unfortunate, but this is a direct result of the decreased average length of involuntary hospitalization that has occurred because of the shift to dangerousness criteria for civil commitment. Involuntary hospitalization has become a quick and limited fix for acute and severe mental pathology rather than a step toward long-term psychiatric care. 25

    Chapter 23: The Right to Bear Arms

    The Second Amendment is the only part of the Bill of Rights that contains a preamble: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” These twenty-six words are bitterly contested in modern America. Does the amendment recognize an individual right to own guns for sport and self-defense or a collective right, exercised through a militia, or citizen guard, to possess firearms for defending the nation? The framers clearly believed the right was important, but what they meant by it has become a source of deep division. Is the preamble a restricting clause, one that restricts gun ownership to defense of the nation, or an amplifying clause, one that notes an important purpose for gun possession but does not limit other uses?

    The English settlers in the New World were heirs to a five-century-old tradition governing both the right and the duty to bear arms. The idea of an armed citizenry responsible for the common defense existed in law alongside regulation of gun ownership. As far back as the twelfth century, English law imposed an obligation on citizens to participate in law enforcement. All able-bodied men between the ages of sixteen and sixty had to join the sheriff’s posse comitatus (from the Latin, “force of the county”) when the community was alerted to criminal danger. They were also part of the militia. Both of these legal duties required citizens to possess arms, but the law restricted the use of weapons according to social class. Common people had far more limited use of weapons than did noblemen. Laws also prohibited the carrying of arms in public places.

    When the English monarchy attempted to disarm its political opponents in the late seventeenth century, what had been a duty came to be viewed as a fundamental right to defend liberty from political oppression. Conditions in colonial America strengthened this belief. Guns and militias were more common—and thought to be more necessary—in the harsher environment of the New World. At first, the goal was to provide food and to protect settlers against displaced natives, but the growth of slavery also spurred the arming of all white males. The conflict with Great Britain added another reason for an armed citizenry. Colonists began to view imperial regulations as an effort to strip them of their rights. Citizen militias were the ultimate defense against tyranny.

    For the founding generation, the struggle with Great Britain reinforced the lessons their English ancestors had learned. It reminded Americans of the dangers of a standing, or permanent, army that could seize power or interfere in politics, and it transformed the idea of an armed population from a necessity to an important right. The Constitution gave Congress the power to organize, arm, and discipline the militia, which by custom included all white males from sixteen to sixty years of age, but opponents of ratification feared that this power could also be used to disarm the population at large. It was this concern that led to the Second Amendment. A universal militia and armed citizenry provided a check on governmental power, especially on what was then a distant central government.

    AND WHEREAS it is of the utmost Importance to the Safety of every State, that it should always be in a Condition of Defence and it is the Duty of every Man who enjoys the Protection of Society, to be prepared and willing to defend it This Convention therefore, in the Name and by the Authority of the good People of this State, doth ORDAIN, DETERMINE, AND DECLARE, That the Militia of the State, at all Times hereafter, as well in Peace as in War, shall be armed and disciplined, and in Readiness for Service.

    The decades following the adoption of the amendment provided little opportunity for judicial interpretation of the right to bear arms. Gun ownership was widespread, and most laws restricting firearms regulated or prohibited their possession by native tribes, slaves, and free blacks. Commentators pointed to the connection between the right to bear arms and liberty. An early Supreme Court justice, Joseph Story, voiced the common interpretation when he wrote that “it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers” because it would “enable the people to resist, and triumph over them.” By the mid-nineteenth century, concern about increased crime led to laws prohibiting concealed weapons, but no one considered these measures a threat to the basic right to own a gun.

    Post–Civil War Reconstruction brought the Second Amendment to the Supreme Court for the first time. The defeated southern states enacted the so called Black Codes to keep ex-slaves in a subservient status one law required blacks to have a license to carry firearms. Northern Republicans objected to this denial of a right considered essential to liberty. The attempt to disarm blacks, as well as to strip them of other rights, led to the Fourteenth Amendment, through which lawmakers intended to apply the Bill of Rights to the states as well as the central government. The Supreme Court did not interpret the amendment in this manner at first, and in its only two cases involving the Second Amendment, the Court ruled that it limited the federal government only. This stance reaffirmed the power of states to regulate firearms.

    The explosive growth of cities in the late nineteenth century, fueled by waves of immigration from southern and eastern Europe, led to new pressures for gun control. No one disputed the right to own guns, but increasingly people were concerned about their misuse. Many native-born Americans were especially fearful that new immigrants would bring crime and violence with them. In 1911, these fears led to the passage of New York’s Sullivan Law, which went far beyond typical gun ordinances. It prohibited the unlicensed carrying of concealed weapons and required a permit for the purchase or ownership of a pistol. Violation of the act was a felony, punishable by a term in the state prison, and the first person convicted under the law was an Italian immigrant. The Sullivan Law was unusual, however. Most Americans enjoyed an unrestricted right to own and use guns.

    World War I changed this situation. A new and fearsome weapon emerged from this bloody conflict, the Thomson submachine gun, or tommy-gun, which became the preferred gun of gangsters. During the 1920s and early 1930s, these automatic weapons, along with sawed-off shotguns and silencers, were associated with bootleggers and bank robbers, typified by John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Bonnie and Clyde. In response, Congress passed the first federal gun control law. The National Firearms Act of 1934 required registration, police permission, and a steep tax for so-called gangster weapons. This law, in turn, led to one of the few Supreme Court cases on the Second Amendment. In United States v. Miller (1939), the Court affirmed the right of citizens to own weapons suitable for use in the militia, but it ruled that the firearm in dispute, a sawed-off shotgun, was not a military weapon and could be controlled without violating the Second Amendment.

    Penal Laws of Mississippi, Sec. 1. Be it enacted, . . . That no freedman, free negro or mulatto, not in the military service of the United States government, and not licensed so to do by the board of police of his or her county, shall keep or carry fire-arms of any kind, or any ammunition, dirk or bowie knife.

    The 1960s put the question of gun control in a tragic new light. The assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and Senator Robert F. Kennedy were only the most notable casualties in a decade of violence. Urban riots, civil rights repression, and political unrest prompted groups from the Ku Klux Klan to the Black Panthers to arm themselves or, in the Klan’s case, to become more heavily armed. Homeowners followed suit by decade’s end, almost half of American households had at least one gun. Public concern led Congress to pass the Gun Control Act of 1968, the first federal law that seriously affected the right of Americans to buy and own firearms. The act limited the purchase of guns through the mails, restricted the importation of surplus military weapons, and prohibited convicted felons from owning guns.

    The act also set off a continuing national debate about gun control, with the National Rifle Association and similar groups lobbying for no restrictions on gun ownership and gun control organizations and law enforcement agencies seeking even more limits. Finally in the 1980s, the often bitter conflict between the two positions came to a dramatic head when a small town in the Midwest sought to ban handguns for the first time in American history.

    Morton Grove, Illinois, lies fourteen miles north of downtown Chicago. First settled in the 1830s, it was known at the turn of the twentieth century for its floral industry, with a local greenhouse producing the first-place rose at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. By the 1950s, the single-line railroad that had connected the village to Chicago had been replaced by a modern expressway, and Morton Grove grew rapidly into a suburban community of 15,000. Maintaining an orderly and peaceful town became paramount to residents, and in 1981, Morton Grove passed an ordinance restricting the private possession of handguns within the village. The ban on gun ownership was the first in the nation’s history.

    In October 1980, residents learned about an application to open a gun store inside the town limits. By the spring of the following year, with a local poll revealing overwhelming support for handgun legislation, opponents of the application pressed the village board not only to ban the sale of handguns but to prohibit their possession entirely. On a stormy night in June, hundreds of citizens packed the small council chambers, spilling over into the streets, to voice their opinions and witness the debate. At the end of the evening, the board passed the ordinance, which imposed a fine of up to $500 and six months in jail for violators. “I hope we saved a couple of lives,” one of the supporting councilmen said. Significantly, the law did not seek to ban all guns, only handguns. The next day, a local attorney, Victor Quilici, filed suit in the county court, seeking to block the ordinance from taking effect. A few weeks later, four other residents sued in federal court, claiming it violated the Second Amendment.

    By now the board’s action was national news, and ABC TV planned a documentary on the handgun ban. Both the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation, pro-gun advocates, had joined the fight, alleging that the ordinance was unconstitutional. After reviewing the complaint, the federal district judge ruled that the ordinance did not violate the Second Amendment, which applied only to the federal government. Opponents quickly appealed to the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court. Regulation of handguns was not the issue— more than 22,000 measures already existed in cities and towns across the nation to control concealed weapons and ban them from such places as voting sites, public buildings, and schools—but Morton Grove’s ordinance outlawed their possession, even in the privacy of one’s home. The ordinance challenged traditional interpretations of an American right, but it also addressed a national concern over violence related to handguns. By 1980, 10,000 people were murdered annually in the United States with these small arms. A few months before the Morton Grove ordinance passed, an assailant used a handgun in an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan six weeks later, a would-be assassin shot Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square. In defense, gun advocates developed a slogan that soon became part of a national debate: “Guns don’t kill people people kill people.” Kennesaw, Georgia, in protest of the Morton Grove ban, passed an ordinance requiring all homeowners to own a gun.

    When the Morton Grove ordinance took effect on February 1, 1982, the legal campaign for reversal was well underway. Two cases were winding their way toward a decision—one in state courts, one in federal courts. Meanwhile, a survey revealed continued majority support for the ban among Morton Grove residents, although it also disclosed that handguns remained in 1,600 homes in the village. An attempt by local opponents to put the ordinance to a popular vote failed, but before other efforts could be made to repeal the measure, the federal appellate court upheld the district court ruling, 2 to 1. The majority accepted Morton Grove’s argument that the framers had not intended handguns to be among the class of protected firearms. The words of the Second Amendment made it clear to them that the right to bear arms was “inextricably connected to the preservation of a militia.” But the U.S. Supreme Court had not extended the amendment to the states, as it had done with other rights, so Morton Grove’s action could not have been unconstitutional. The dissenting judge believed the ban on possession within the home abridged the right of privacy as well as a Second Amendment right of gun ownership.

    Now, the case was headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but in May 1983, the justices declined to hear the appeal. Their refusal meant that the appellate court’s decision was final. When the state supreme court also rejected a challenge to the ordinance under the state constitution’s guarantee of a right to bear arms—the right was subject to the power of the government to protect public safety, which the court ruled was the intent of the ordinance—the battle of Morton Grove was over. The village had the authority to ban the possession of handguns within its borders.

    Quilici v. Village of Morton Grove remains the most important modern case on Second Amendment law, but the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case meant the controversy would continue. As a result, the Second Amendment remains one of only four parts of the Bill of Rights that have not been applied as limits on the states under the Fourteenth Amendment. The Third Amendment, which says that soldiers, in times of peace, cannot be quartered in any house without the owner’s consent the Fifth Amendment’s requirement of an indictment by a grand jury for capital crimes and the Seventh Amendment’s requirement for a jury trial in civil suits are the other provisions that restrain the federal government alone.

    The lack of a definitive interpretation of the right to bear arms—Is it an individual right? Is it a collective right?—means that the issue finds its way into hundreds of local, state, and federal forums. Courts, legislatures, and city councils have acted in different ways to reconcile the meaning of this right, which appears in most state constitutions as well, with the threat posed by weapons in the hands of criminals. At the same time Morton Grove acted, for example, several neighboring towns adopted similar ordinances, while other towns in Illinois rejected attempts to ban small arms. Two decades later, another federal appeals court interpreted the Second Amendment differently from the appellate court that heard the Morton Grove case the judges who heard United States v. Everson (2001) concluded that the Second Amendment guaranteed an individual right to own a handgun. The U.S. Supreme Court has not thus far resolved these conflicting interpretations.

    The debate about gun control is among the most raucous in American history, and the opposing sides often take positions that are hard, if not impossible, to reconcile. An appeal to the original understanding does not solve the problem for us. The founding generation clearly thought the right to bear arms required protection, but the language they used was not entirely clear. Who were “the people?” Does this phrase refer to individuals or to the community? Do the words “to bear arms” refer to ownership of guns or to their use in the common defense? In fact, the words have both public and private meanings, which is why we have such difficulty settling on a single interpretation of the amendment.

    The stakes of the debate are high. From the fiery conflict between federal officers and a religious sect, the Branch Davidians, at Waco, Texas, in 1993 to the deaths of high school students in a shooting spree at Columbine, Colorado, in 1999, we have witnessed too many recent instances of violence not to be concerned about the availability and use of guns in our society. But the contest about the meaning of the Second Amendment is not the first time in American history we have been divided over the extent of our rights. The fight for abolition of slavery, the struggle for woman suffrage, the campaign for personal privacy—these claims to liberty are only three of numerous battles fought throughout our history over the definition of our rights.

    What is most striking about the public controversy over gun control is its democratic character. It is an open and participatory conversation about fundamental rights and the fundamental character of an orderly and just society. Among all the partisanship and intemperate rhetoric, what is most reassuring is the debate itself. It is this passionate, continuing, democratic debate that has given liberty and the expansion of our rights their historic energy. To deny debate in this instance would deprive us of the potential of growth in our understanding of freedom, rights, and social responsibility.

    The Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land

    Disagreements about the meaning of the right to bear arms—and even disputes about the reason for the right itself—have existed since the earliest days of the republic. John Adams, a leader of the Revolution and second President of the United States, viewed the unregulated use of firearms by citizens to be dangerous to liberty, a position he put forth in A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States (1787–88).

    To suppose arms in the hands of citizens, to be used at individual discretion, except in private self-defense, or by partial orders of towns, countries or districts of a state, is to demolish every constitution, and lay the laws prostrate, so that liberty can be enjoyed by no man it is a dissolution of the government. The fundamental law of the militia is, that it be created, directed and commanded by the laws, and ever for the support of the laws.

    Joseph Story was a Supreme Court justice who served on the Court from 1811 until 1845. In his Commentaries on the Constitution (1833), he ties an armed citizenry to the defense of liberty but only through a regulated militia, a body similar to the modern National Guard but one in which all able-bodied men had to serve.

    The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defence of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rules. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government or trample upon the right of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic: since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them. And yet, though this truth would seem so undeniable, it cannot be disguised, that among the American people there is a growing indifference to any system of militia discipline, and a strong disposition, from a sense of its burthens, to be rid of all regulations. How it is practicable to keep the people duly armed without some organization, it is difficult to see. There is certainly no small danger, that indifference may lead to disgust, and disgust to contempt and thus gradually undermine all the protection intended by this clause of our national bill of rights.

    Watch the video: Detroit 1967: When a city went up in flames (January 2022).