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Maze Of Guns Laws In U.S. Hurts Gun Control Efforts



Not only can people acquire military-style assault weapons, they can also get gangster-style Tommy guns, World War II-era bazookas and even sawed-off shotguns.

There is a legal avenue to try to get any gun you want somewhere in the U.S., thanks to the maze of gun statutes across the country and the lack of certain federal laws.

That undermines gun-control efforts in communities with tougher gun laws — and pushes advocates of tighter controls to seek a federal standard. Gun rights proponents say enforcing all existing laws makes more sense than passing new ones.

An Associated Press analysis found that there are thousands of laws, rules and regulations at the local, county, state and federal levels. The laws and rules vary by state, and even within states, according to a 2011 compilation of state gun laws by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

These laws and regulations govern who can carry a firearm, what kind of firearm is legal, the size of ammunition magazines, and more. In some places, a person can buy as many guns as desired.

Not only can people acquire military-style assault weapons, they can also get gangster-style Tommy guns, World War II-era bazookas and even sawed-off shotguns.

“If you regulate something on the local or state level, you are still a victim to guns coming into other localities or states,” said Laura Cutilletta, a senior staff attorney at the California-based Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

In California, most guns come from Nevada, where there is almost no regulation of firearms, Cutilletta said, and in Arizona, gun owners don’t need a permit.

President Barack Obama earlier this month announced a $500 million plan to tighten federal gun laws. The December shooting massacre in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 children and six adults at an elementary school launched the issue of gun control policy to a national focus not seen in decades.

Obama is urging Congress to pass new laws, some of which would set a minimum standard for the types of firearms and ammunition that are commercially available. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on Thursday said she was introducing a new assault weapons ban.

The powerful gun lobby says the problem lies in enforcement of existing laws.

New gun laws will face tough opposition in Congress, particularly from members who rely on the NRA during election campaigns. The NRA contributed more than $700,000 to members of Congress during the 2012 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

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