Law, don't ya love it? Well, you asked for it and We have spoken. What follows is how the existent, real-world gun laws came about in the United States and how they changed in the Whateley Universe.
First, you have to understand that EVERY gun law in the US is the result of a publicized shooting incident(s). People get upset and Congressmen and Senators start writing laws to 'do something'. Now, in a universe with super powered mutants, a good bit of that 'urge' for lack of a better word would be directed at mutants and the mutant 'threat'. Gun law in the Whateley Universe is far more lax than in our world, for two reasons.
One: The publicity that would get gun laws passed in the first place is being given to covering 'mystery men' and later 'super heroes' and:
Two: Whether they are an effective equalizer or not, guns likely help a large number of John Q. Publics feel 'safer' because of all these costumed yahoos running around.
So, what follows is a VERY brief summary of the major Federal Fire Arms statues, why they came about and what they did.
â€¢ National Firearms Act (1934)
This first piece was a direct response to the Chicago Gang wars and the highway bandits of the 20s and 30s. It created the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (Prohibition, remember) as a sub branch of the Treasury Department for one specific reason. Machine guns, short barreled rifles and sawed off shotguns couldn't be made illegal due to the second amendment, but they could be TAXED out of affordability of the average citizen. So, to legally own one of the aforementioned weapons, you had to pay a tax stamp for the exorbitant price of $200. Thus, the BATF or 'revenuers' as they were known throughout Appalachia collected this tax and why they are a part of the Treasury Department, not the Justice Department.
None, however the 'corporate culture' for lack of a better phrase is very much different in the BATF of the Whateley Universe. The ATF exists mostly to categorize reproducible Gadget weapons and further classify devisor weapons once they pass their 'experimental' phase. As such, ATF agents are known through out the law enforcement community in the US as a group of Gun Bunnies and geeks who'll nerd out at the drop of a hat over what some mutant came up with.
â€¢ Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (1968)
This law and its sister act below were both in response to President Kennedy's assassination. This law is primarily about wire tapping and anti-crime prevention funds, for fire arms it established and national licensing system for firearms and firearms dealers and made the age to possess a handgun 21.
The handgun age was a 'poison pill' slipped into the law that last minute in senate amendments, designed to derail the law being passed. In the Academy Universe this amendment was voted down and the rest of the law was approved and signed unchanged. As it stands now, when you get your drivers license you can get a hand gun, and before that if your parents and/or guardian are ok with it.
â€¢ Gun Control Act (1968)
Also in response to the death of President Kennedy for firearms this had a number of important additions. It required that all taxable weapons under the NFA had to be registered with the Federal Government by their present owner and any subsequent owner who bought the weapon. It also established the BATF Form 4473 you have to fill out when you buy a weapon from a dealer as well as prohibiting a fire arm being bought and delivered directly to your door through the mail. (Lee Harvey Oswold bought the rifle he shot Kennedy with in this manner.)
This also laid out a list of 'proscribed persons' who have permanently lost their right to own a fire arm. They include; convicted felons, dishonorably discharged veterans, citizens who renounce their citizenship and other sundry reasons.
On the whole, this was a pretty good law. There were a lot of murmurings that registration leads to confiscation about the NFA weapons (machine guns, etc) but the registry makes sense; especially for odd ball weapons like these. The mail order bit was voted down as the nonsense it was as all it does is by pass the 4473, so you can still buy firearms through the mail in our universe, but the seller is obligated to report the sale to the BATF and you have to provide all the data you would on a 4473 anyway.
Also the Ford Amendment makes use of a Paranormal Ability in the commission of a Crime a Felony punishable by not less than 5 Years in Prison and $100,000 fine. This was added as a bone to growing concerns about the rise of mutants throughout the country and the need to codify what would not be tolerated by Americans.
â€¢ Firearms Owner's Protection Act (1986)
This is something of a mixed bag of laws. It prohibited the Federal Government from maintaining a registry of any non-NFA fire arm, clarified the proscribed persons list, and included the 'Safe Passage' provision that kept a person from being arrested for violating state fire arms laws if they were only 'passing through' the state trying to get from A to B. It also included a number of poison pills; the most onerous of these was the Hughes Amendment that closed the registry of NFA weapons. IE, if the NFA weapon wasn't already registered when the law went into effect, it never could. This created a finite number of NFA weapons nation wide and their prices skyrocketed over night. You can't own a 'new' machine gun and to buy one used (assuming you qualify) will set you back $9,000 MINIMUM, plus the $200 NFA tax stamp. ïﾁŠ
These are two fold. First, The Hughes Amendment didn't have a snow ball's chance of being passed in a world that has super villains. So the registry is still open and while they're probably expensive ($850 for a Mac10 and $1,200 for an M-16) you can buy a new machine gun and register it. Second, this law created a nation wide super Concealed Carry permit. States could still issue state CCPs, but this Federal permit would require a week long course of theory, law and practical exercises but, when issued, allowed the holder to carry anywhere. It made the holder a Volunteer Air Marshal and so allowed him or her to carry on Airplanes in domestic flights, buses, trains and other public transportation. This had repercussions of course, see the concealed carry notes below.
The O'Neil Amendment makes the use of Paranormal Abilities in public against any citizen of the United States a felony. It raised the punishment of the Ford Amendment to 10 Years and $200,000 fines. These are automatic with the exception of 'Accredited Training Facilities in the Safe Use of Paranormal Abilities' and, under subsection 21J requires any paranormal using a power in public against a citizen of the United States to identify him or herself to the senior law enforcement agent present who will certify that the actions were "necessary, prudent, and in good faith". Without this certification, the use of powers against US Citizens is an automatic Felony as described above.
â€¢ Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (1993)
This came about due to President Regan's Press Secretary taking a bullet for him. It required a back ground check for a person attempting to purchase a firearm from an FFL Dealer to determine if they were a proscribed person.
While Regan was shot, as was Brady, in the Academy universe gun control is not only tough, but extremely unpopular. To the point of getting the original sponsor of the bill run out of office or even impeached. Hand Gun Control Inc is still only a two or three person crusade run by Sara Brady who has trouble getting anyone to listen to her for very long.
Conversely, the National Rifle Association is largely a civic organization who holds tournaments, teaches boy scouts their firearm merit badge, has largely taken over running the Federal Concealed Carry Permit Certification and for the most part doesn't concern itself with politics. This act never became law.
â€¢ Federal Assault Weapons Ban (1994 - 2004) (now defunct)
This law grew out of two separate shootings; the Columbine High School shooting and the Abilene Texas Dinner Shooting. It banned several dozen weapons based solely on cosmetic features due to the 'military style' weapons used in the high school shooting as well as limiting new magazine capacity to 10 rounds due to the diner shooter using a matched pair of Glock 17s with 20 round magazines.
Superheroes and super villains make many changes through out history. In the Academy Universe, the Columbine shootings weren't anywhere near as bad, due to the intervention of the White Witch and Mr. Elastic, who managed to evacuate bunches of kids before it got too nasty. The diner actually had a CCP holder at the shooting, but as Texas law forbade her from having her pistol in the diner she left her pistol in her glove box. Here, this courageous individual held a Federal CCP stopped the diner shooting.
Likewise, a number of high profile gun standoffs were averted through the actions of Heros before things got out of hand. This was the case with the Ruby Ridge and Waco incidents. As such, this law also was never passed.
Technomancer vs. the TSA allowed mutants to carry on airlines as a volunteer air marshal; the legal basis of this decision was that Technomancer went through an approved NRA FCCPC course. The court held in one of its historically rare unanimous rulings that failure to issue the permit violated the due process rights of any mutant so denied.
Civilian, Gadgeteer/Devisor creations, NFA, Military Grade Weapons, What's the difference?:
While the NFA defines licensed weapons due to their unusual nature, BATF regulations codify new weapons into one of four categories:
CAT 1 Experimental
Any weapon which exists only as a prototype or less than five (5) serial numbered units is classified as experimental. While there are no special taxes or restrictions on the construction or possession of such weapons, any such weapon must be registered with the BATF by writing within one (1) week of assembly and an example submitted or otherwise demonstrated to a qualified ATF technologies officer within one (1) month of assembly. The weapon will be categorized as CAT 2, CAT 3 or CAT 4 unless the inventor signs an affidavit certifying no more than five (5) serial numbered units will be constructed. Any weapon whose working action or mechanism is functionally identical to an already registered design will inherit that designs category. (The Custom Gun Smith amendment)
CAT 2 General Use/Non-NFA
A weapon receiving this category can be manufactured for sale to the general public, provided the manufacturer maintains a Class 10 FFL, the units of such sale shall not be subject to registration or collection of the NFA tax stamp.
CAT 3 Restricted Use NFA Certified
A weapon which meets one or more of the following criteria may be manufactured and sold to the general public providing the manufacturer maintains a Class 10 FFL and the units of each sale shall be subject to registration of sale within twenty four (24) hours to the NFA Registry and a NFA tax stamp must be paid.
â€¢ capable of firing more than one projectile with one pull of the trigger or
â€¢ has an over all length of less than 18inches and is meant to be fired from the shoulder or
â€¢ has a smooth bore, but is not a shot gun over 18 inches in length or
â€¢ fires a projectile that is self propelled beyond the barrel while being less than .50 caliber or
â€¢ fires explosive ammunition or
â€¢ qualifies as a LASER, Charged Particle or other