Gun politics is a controversial area of American politics that is primarily defined by the actions of two groups: gun control and gun rights activists. These groups often disagree on the interpretation of laws and court cases related to firearms as well as about the effects of gun control on crime and public safety.
Since the 1990s, debates regarding firearm availability and gun violence in the U.S. have been characterized by concerns about the right to bear arms found in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and the responsibility of the government to serve the needs of its citizens and to prevent crime and deaths. Gun control supporters say that broad or unrestricted gun rights inhibit the government from fulfilling that responsibility. Gun rights supporters promote firearms for self-defense, hunting, and sporting activities. Gun control advocates state that keeping guns out of the hands of criminals results in safer communities, while gun rights advocates state that firearm ownership by law-abiding citizens reduces crime. A 2003 study by the Centers for Disease Control called for further study because there was insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of firearms laws with regards to violent outcomes.
Gun legislation in the United States is constrained by judicial interpretations of the Constitution. In 1789, the United States adopted the Second Amendment, and in 1868 adopted the Fourteenth Amendment. The effect of those two amendments on gun politics was the subject of landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 2008 and 2010 respectively, that upheld the right for individuals to possess guns for self-defense.