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Gun Control

A Guide to Finding Government and Legal Information

Web version of this guide includes links to web resources.

Search Tips:

Mix and match these terms in searching the library catalog, WestCat , or use them to search journal articles and law reviews via the library's Databases page. You can also use them to search government information sites listed on our Starting Points page - click the tab and pay particular attention to the Top Six.

  • gun control
  • firearms ownership
  • crime
  • right to bear arms
  • guns or arms
  • firearms
  • handguns
  • statistics
  • background checks
  • second amendment
  • gun rights
  • gun violence
  • automatic weapons
  • semiautomatic weapons
  • gun shows
  • felons
  • gun (or arms) trafficking
  • concealed carry

Related Topics:
  • gun trafficking
  • mass shooting

An important source for many research topics is Congress. Congressional committees and subcommittees hold hearings on a wide variety of controversial and timely subjects. Simply add the word "hearing?" to a search string in WestCat .

Search Engines

Google and StartPage
Use these search engines to search for government information by typing "site:gov" in the search box preceding your search terms:

  • site:gov "gun control"
  • site:mil gun trafficking
Law Review Articles and Annotations

Law reviews are an important resource for legal topics like this one. They can lead you to laws and cases as well as discuss legal theory. A few law journals are indexed in multidisciplinary databases, but the best bang for your buck will be to search Nexis Uni for full-text access to many hundreds of law reviews.

Federal Government Information
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

ATF has information on the firearms industry and firearms enforcement, with links to statistics and publications.

Congressional Authority to Regulate Firearms: A Legal Overview

This CRS Report discusses congress's power to regulate intrastate firearms transfers in light of the commerce clause, congressional legislation, and court opinions. 2013

NICS Participation Map

This map kept up to date by the FBI shows how states approach background checks for gun sales.

Gun Control, Mental Incompetency, and Social Security Administration Final Rule

This Final Rule promulgated by the Social Security Administration, which would have added "mental incompetency" information used to get federal disability benefits to the NICS system thereby prohibiting those persons from owning firearms, was overturned by Congress.

Public Mass Shootings in the United States: Selected Implications for Federal Public Health and Safety Policy

This report attempts to define public mass shootings in a useful way and also discusses the roles that law enforcement, educators, and health care providers can play to prevent these events or minimize casualties. 2013

Gun Control: FY2017 Appropriations for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Other Initiatives

This report includes interesting data spanning decades on the number of guns in the U.S., gun violence, and congress's attitude toward the study of gun injuries and gun violence. 2017

Gun Control: Federal Law and Legislative Action in the 114th Congress

This report discusses in detail past and present law and legislation related to guns and gun control. 2017

Gun Control: Concealed Carry Legislation in the 115th Congress

This short report discusses the bill introduced in Congress that would force states to recognize concealed carry permits and rights from other states. 2018

Mass Murder with Firearms: Incidents and Victims, 1999-2013

This in-depth report describes all types of mass murder, their categories, and victimologies. 2015

Federal Assault Weapons Ban: Legal Issues

This report describes the few major gun laws as well as the assault weapons ban of 1994 that expired after 10 years. 2013

Gun Control: "Bump-Fire" Stocks

Bump stocks: what they are, how they work, and why they're still legal. 2017

Firearms Eligibility for Foreign Nationals in the United States

This report describes who can legally acquire a firearm, and who cannot. 2015

Gun Control Proposals in the 113th Congress: Universal Background Checks, Gun Trafficking, and Military Style Firearms

This CRS Report to Congress includes a short history of federal gun laws in the U.S., strategies to combat illegal gun trafficking, and current legislative proposals introduced in light of recent mass shootings. March 2013

The United Nations and “Gun Control”

This CRS Report for Congress summarizes the actions of the United Nations on its plan for reducing illegal gun trafficking and the conspiracy theories that surround it. 2001

A Review of ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious and Related Matters

This 500+ page report of the investigation by the DOJ's Office of the Inspector General into ATF's Operation Fast and Furious is critical of the agents involved and recommends operational policy changes. 2012

Enforcement of the Brady Act, 2010

This report includes statistics for a five-year period beginning in 2006. Topics include number of denials to purchase firearms due to background checks and the basis for those denials.

New Approaches to Understanding and Regulating Primary and Secondary Illegal Firearms

This report argues that state and local authorities can greatly reduce illegal gun sales with the proper tools. 2013

Sharing Promising Practices and Assessing Incentives Could Better Position Justice to Assist States in Providing Records for Background Checks

Most of the records used in performing background checks come from state agencies. This report looks at ways to increase the types of documents provided to the system. 2012

Illinois Government Information
Firearm Owner's Identification Information

This Illinois State Police website has cursory information on the FOID program and monthly application statistics. Fun fact: FOID applications doubled immediately following the Newtown massacre.

Apply for a Concealed Carry License from the State of Illinois

Information on firearms, firearms transfers, licensing for ownership and concealed carry, and more, from the Illinois State Police's Firearms Services Bureau.

Illinois General Assembly

Search here for current firearms legislation.

Illinois Laws & Regulations - available at

Firearm Owners Identification Card Act, 430 ILCS 65/
Firearm Owner's Identification Card Act, 20 Ill.Adm.Code 1230, governs ownership of firearms
Firearm Transfer Inquiry Program, 20 Ill.Adm.Code 1235, governs firearms dealers

Legal Information
Federal Laws & Regulations

The Gun Control Act of 1968, 82 STAT 1213, PL 90-618
Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, 107 STAT 1536, PL 103-159
Control of Arms Exports and Imports, 22 USCA 2778
Commerce in Firearms and Ammunition, 27 CFR 478

Subject Guides