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Good Luck Advising Clients About Gun Laws

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on October 23, 2017 4:00 PM

The initial shock of the Las Vegas shootings may wear off, but the public is still dazed about what to do in the aftermath.

According to polls, Americans have not changed their opinion about gun laws since the mass shooting. The massacre raised concerns about semi-automatic weapons -- especially those equipped with "bump stocks" -- yet many people don't know where to stand on gun control.

For lawyers, it is mostly about advising clients what not to do. It's not going to be easy, however, because guns laws are as unsettled as public opinion.

Background Checks

Consumers will most likely face more stringent background checks. It has worked to deter gun violence in some states, and others will follow.

Connecticut, for example, saw a 40 percent decrease in gun violence after passing laws expanding background checks. On the other hand, Missouri had a 25 percent increase in gun deaths and a 98 percent increase in trafficking after easing background checks.

Meanwhile, Congress tabled some legislation after the Las Vegas shooting. The lawmakers put on hold a bill that would ease regulations on silencers.

The Sportsman's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act would also allow guns to be sold over state lines and, wrote Cheat Sheet reporter Phillip Francis, would "loosen restrictions on armor-piercing bullets (you know, for all those deer with armor on.)"

Gun Registration

While legislatures consider new laws, gun rights advocates are suing over existing laws. The National Rifle Association has challenged California's registration requirements for assault rifle owners.

The plaintiffs allege that the ban on high capacity magazines and other regulations seek too much information about gun owners. The government wants to know who owns the guns, what they own, how they obtained their weapons, plus photographs of the weapons.

Along with more background checks and registration issues, evolving gun laws will be complicated. Nevada's law on background checks, for example, was effectively unenforceable due to a federal conflict at the time of the Las Vegas shooting.

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