What was the basis for valuating large territorial purchases by USA?

What was the basis for valuating large territorial purchases by USA?


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

There were at least 2 times when USA extended its territory by purchasing it outright - Louisiana+ from French and Alaska from Russians.

The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of 828,000 square miles (2,140,000 km2) of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S. paid 60 million francs ($11,250,000) plus cancellation of debts worth 18 million francs ($3,750,000), for a total sum of 15 million dollars (less than 3 cents per acre) for the Louisiana territory ($233 million in 2011 dollars, less than 42 cents per acre).

Alaska Purchase: The negotiations concluded after an all-night session with the signing of the treaty at 4 a.m. on March 30, 1867, with the purchase price set at $7.2 million, or about 2 cents per acre ($4.74/km2).

While the historical non-monetary reasons for the transactions were already discussed on History.SE, there was obviously also a financial side involved.

Every transaction involves the buyer and a seller somehow deciding on a value that the item holds for them.

Question: What exactly was the process and the logic/algorithm by which both Russian, French and American governments arrived at the valuations quoted above?

The answer should reference historical documents, not just guesses.


You're over thinking this.

In both cases, we wanted land, they wanted money. The discussion was a negotiation like any other - how much / how little money / land can we extract before the other party walks away?

It's haggling, pure and simple. I doubt there was any analysis done at all, except "Can we afford this?" and "Does this seem like a good deal?"

We're talking the 1800s here, not the same sophisticated real estate and finance regime we have now. I'm not saying the people in the 1800s were stupid by any stretch - I'm just saying, don't apply modern notions of finance and real estate to a gentle mans game of yore.

Additionally, the valuation of real estate, even today is done for two reasons:

  1. To help a mortgage lender know what a reasonable loan to extend on a property would be (most banks will not lend more than 95% of the value of a property)
  2. To help governments figure out how much property tax would be do.

For a government acquiring property, neither situation applies, so there is no need to assign an actual value. So, again, it really boils down to "How much can we get for as little give as possible."


The original offer was $10 million for New Orleans, plus "East and West Florida" (basically Florida plus the coastal regions of Alabama and Mississippi.The French, who didn't have clear title to Florida, offered New Orleans plus the rest of Louisiana, which they did have better title to, for $15 million instead.

Of this New Orleans, the city, was the easiest to value. It had an established population, with known figures for annual trade, tax revenues, etc. Given its strategic importance at the mouth of the Mississippi River, the Americans were probably willing to pay something extra, over the value of an equivalent port someplace else.

Let's say for the sake of argument that New Orleans was worth X million, meaning that Florida was worth $10-X million. Then the rest of "Louisiana" (ex New Orleans), would be worth $15-x million.

Let's say X= 5, so $10 million for the rest of Louisiana. There are just under 1 million square miles in the territory (close enough for our purposes), so each square mile costs just over $10.

There are 640 acres per square mile. I remember reading from a history textbook in grade school that in colonial times, good farmland in a developed area cost $1 an acre. Even if it's not exactly correct, such farmland could be valued on a similar basis.

"Louisiana" cost perhaps $10/640 acres or something like 1.7 cents an acre for admittedly a "grabbag" of land of varying quality. Compared to $1 an acre, this would look like a bargain.

That's the way it would look to the buyer. The seller, Napoleon, would probably say, "I need $15 million. What can I sell to raise it? Hmmm… Louisiana might do the trick."

Alaska was different from Louisiana (the latter spanned the same LATITUDES as the rest of the United States. But Alaska was dubbed "Seward's Icebox," the argument being that it was "too cold" (based on the technology of the time) to be of use. But the counterarguments are that 1) technologies change, and for the better, and 2) PART of Alaska is usable, and will make up for the part that isn't.


In both cases there was a country in need of money that had a large amount of land across an ocean that was hard for them to manage, with a much closer country to said land that had lots of money and wanted land. In both cases those countries were in a position that attempting to defend these remote territories would be far too much expense and likely fail should any country mount a reasonable effort to invade.

The value of the land was only part of the equation, but in both cases it was a minor one compared to other factors. Deciding the final price was a negotiation starting at the true value of the land, then subtracting X for being desperate for money, subtracting Y for only having one buyer, subtracting Z due to the risk in maintaining possession of that land. France and Russia really didn't have anything to bring to the table to get a better price.


Northwest Ordinances

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Northwest Ordinances, also called Ordinances of 1784, 1785, and 1787, several ordinances enacted by the U.S. Congress for the purpose of establishing orderly and equitable procedures for the settlement and political incorporation of the Northwest Territory—i.e., that part of the American frontier lying west of Pennsylvania, north of the Ohio River, east of the Mississippi River, and south of the Great Lakes this is generally the area known today as the American Midwest.

Until about 1780 the lands of the Northwest Territory were claimed by several existing states, including New York and Virginia. Those states soon ceded their territorial holdings to the central government (with the exception of Connecticut, which maintained its claim to the Western Reserve along the southern shore of Lake Erie in what is northeastern Ohio), and, by the time the American Revolution ended in 1783, specific measures were needed to guide the settlement and division of the Northwest Territory.

The Ordinance of 1784, drafted by Thomas Jefferson and passed by Congress (April 23, 1784), divided the territory into a handful of self-governing districts. It stipulated that each district could send one representative to Congress upon its attaining a population of 20,000, and it would become eligible for statehood when its population equaled that of the least-populous existing state. (This ordinance was superseded by the Ordinance of 1787.)

The Ordinance of 1785 provided for the scientific surveying of the territory’s lands and for a systematic subdivision of them. Land was to be subdivided according to a rectangular grid system. The basic unit of land grant was the township, which was a square area measuring six miles on each side. A township could then be subdivided into a number of rectangular parcels of individually owned land.

The surveyors…shall proceed to divide the said territory into townships of six miles square, by lines running due north and south, and others crossing these at right angles, as near as may be, unless where the boundaries of the late Indian purchases may render the same impracticable, and then they shall depart from this rule no farther than such particular circumstances may require.…

The first line, running due north and south as aforesaid, shall begin on the River Ohio, at a point that shall be found to be due north from the western termination of a line which has been run as the southern boundary of the state of Pennsylvania and the first line, running east and west, shall begin at the same point and shall extend throughout the whole territory.…The geographer shall designate the townships, or fractional parts of townships, by numbers progressively from south to north, always beginning each range with No. 1 and the ranges shall be distinguished by their progressive numbers to the westward, the first range, extending from the Ohio to the Lake Erie, being marked No. 1.

The lines shall be measured with a chain shall be plainly marked by chaps on the trees and exactly described on a plat, whereon shall be noted by the surveyor, at their proper distances, all mines, salt springs, salt licks, and mill seats that shall come to his knowledge and all water-courses, mountains, and other remarkable and permanent things over and near which such lines shall pass, and also the quality of the lands.

The plats of the townships, respectively, shall be marked by subdivisions into lots of one mile square, or 640 acres, in the same direction as the external lines, and numbered from 1 to 36, always beginning the succeeding range of the lots with the number next to that with which the preceding one concluded.…

The minimum land sale was set at one square mile (640 acres), and the minimum price per acre was $1. (Congress hoped to refill the treasury by land sales in this region, but the requirement of $640 in cash eliminated many potential buyers.) One section in each township was to be set aside for a school. These procedures formed the basis of American public land policy until the Homestead Act of 1862.

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787, the most important of the three acts, laid the basis for the government of the Northwest Territory and for the admission of its constituent parts as states into the union. Under this ordinance, each district was to be governed by a governor and judges appointed by Congress until it attained a population of 5,000 adult free males, at which time it would become a territory and could form its own representative legislature. The Northwest Territory must eventually comprise a minimum of three and a maximum of five states an individual territory could be admitted to statehood in the union after having attained a population of 60,000. Under the ordinance, slavery was forever outlawed from the lands of the Northwest Territory, freedom of religion and other civil liberties were guaranteed, the resident Indians were promised decent treatment, and education was provided for.

Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged. The utmost good faith shall always be observed toward the Indians their lands and property shall never be taken from them without their consent and in their property, rights, and liberty they never shall be invaded or disturbed unless in just and lawful wars authorized by Congress but laws founded in justice and humanity shall, from time to time, be made for preventing wrongs being done to them and for preserving peace and friendship with them.…

There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted: provided always, that any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original states, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service as aforesaid.…

Under this ordinance, the principle of granting new states equal rather than inferior status to older ones was firmly established. The ordinances were a major accomplishment of the often-maligned government under the Articles of Confederation. Moreover, the ordinances foreshadowed how the issues of territorial expansion and slavery would become intertwined during the ensuing years.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Jeff Wallenfeldt, Manager, Geography and History.


29. Manifest Destiny

Expansion westward seemed perfectly natural to many Americans in the mid-nineteenth century. Like the Massachusetts Puritans who hoped to build a "city upon a hill, "courageous pioneers believed that America had a divine obligation to stretch the boundaries of their noble republic to the Pacific Ocean. Independence had been won in the Revolution and reaffirmed in the War of 1812. The spirit of nationalism that swept the nation in the next two decades demanded more territory. The "every man is equal" mentality of the Jacksonian Era fueled this optimism. Now, with territory up to the Mississippi River claimed and settled and the Louisiana Purchase explored, Americans headed west in droves. Newspaper editor John O'Sullivan coined the term " manifest destiny " in 1845 to describe the essence of this mindset.


A symbol of Manifest Destiny, the figure "Columbia" moves across the land in advance of settlers, replacing darkness with light and ignorance with civilization.

The religious fervor spawned by the Second Great Awakening created another incentive for the drive west. Indeed, many settlers believed that God himself blessed the growth of the American nation. The Native Americans were considered heathens. By Christianizing the tribes, American missionaries believed they could save souls and they became among the first to cross the Mississippi River.

Economic motives were paramount for others. The fur trade had been dominated by European trading companies since colonial times. German immigrant John Jacob Astor was one of the first American entrepreneurs to challenge the Europeans. He became a millionaire in the process. The desire for more land brought aspiring homesteaders to the frontier. When gold was discovered in California in 1848, the number of migrants increased even more.

At the heart of manifest destiny was the pervasive belief in American cultural and racial superiority. Native Americans had long been perceived as inferior, and efforts to "civilize" them had been widespread since the days of John Smith and Miles Standish . The Hispanics who ruled Texas and the lucrative ports of California were also seen as "backward."


In 1840, the entire southwestern corner of the United States was controlled by foreign powers (shown in orange), and the territorial dispute over the Oregon Territory (light green) had not been settled. By 1850 the U.S. had control of lands from the Atlantic to the Pacific, covering almost all of today's continental United States.

Expanding the boundaries of the United States was in many ways a cultural war as well. The desire of southerners to find more lands suitable for cotton cultivation would eventually spread slavery to these regions. North of the Mason-Dixon line, many citizens were deeply concerned about adding any more slave states. Manifest destiny touched on issues of religion, money, race, patriotism, and morality. These clashed in the 1840s as a truly great drama of regional conflict began to unfold.


Is a Franchise Right for You?

Before you invest in a particular franchise system, think about how much money you have to invest, your abilities and your goals. Be brutally honest.

Your Investment

  • How much money do you have to invest?
  • How much money can you afford to lose?
  • Are you purchasing the franchise alone or with partners?
  • Do you need financing? Where will you get it? What’s your credit rating and credit score?
  • Do you have savings or additional income to live on until your franchise opens and, you hope, becomes profitable?

Your Abilities

  • Does the franchise require technical experience or special training or education — for example, auto repair, home and office decorating or tax preparation?
  • What special skills can you bring to this business?
  • What experience do you have as a business owner or manager?

Your Goals

  • What are your reasons for buying a particular franchise?
  • Do you need a specific minimum annual income?
  • Do you want to work in a particular field?
  • Are you interested in retail sales or performing a service?
  • How many hours can you work? How many are you willing to work?
  • Do you intend to operate the business yourself or hire a manager?
  • Will franchise ownership be your main source of income or a supplement to your current income?
  • Are you in this for the long term?
  • Would you like to own several outlets?
  • Are you willing to let the franchisor be your boss?

Under the ISO classification system, trucks are categorized into size classes based on their gross vehicle weight (GVW). The GVW is determined by the manufacturer. It is the weight of the truck when loaded to its capacity with people and cargo. Depending on its GVW, a truck might be classed as light, medium, heavy, or extra-heavy (see the table below). A small pick-up truck would likely be classified as a light truck. A large garbage truck, on the other hand, might qualify as an extra-heavy truck.

Large trucks have more mass than small ones. If a large truck collides with another object, it is more likely than a small truck to cause serious bodily injury or property damage. For example, suppose an extra-heavy garbage truck and a pickup truck are both traveling at the same speed. Each vehicle runs a stop sign and rear-ends a private passenger vehicle. Because the garbage truck has a much greater mass than the pickup truck, it will likely cause more damage to the car than the pickup.

A large truck is also more likely than a small one to cause severe injuries to passengers. In the above example, the garbage truck is more likely than the pickup truck to injure passengers in the private passenger vehicle. Thus, as the size (gross vehicle weight) of a truck increases, the rate charged for liability coverage increases as well.

The weight of truck-tractors is expressed in terms of gross combined weight (GCW). This is the weight of a fully-loaded tractor and the trailer combined. The GCW includes the weight of passengers and cargo.


Here’s a Timeline of the Major Gun Control Laws in America

T hrough their grief, the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have become a political force. One week after 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz allegedly used an AR-15 to shoot and kill 17 people at the school, around 100 students met with lawmakers in the Florida state capital to advocate for gun control. They also met with President Trump in the White House Wednesday. In organizing the March For Our Lives, they’ll rally next month in Washington, D.C.

But with the right of gun ownership enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, gun regulations remain a thorny issue in the U.S. Throughout history, there have been several laws and Supreme Court cases that have shaped the Second Amendment. This timeline outlines the most important events in influencing the country’s federal gun policy.

On Dec. 15, 1791, ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution &mdash eventually known as the Bill of Rights &mdash were ratified. The second of them said: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The first piece of national gun control legislation was passed on June 26, 1934. The National Firearms Act (NFA) &mdash part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deal for Crime“&mdash was meant to curtail “gangland crimes of that era such as the St. Valentine&rsquos Day Massacre.”

The NFA imposed a tax on the manufacturing, selling, and transporting of firearms listed in the law, among them short-barrel shotguns and rifles, machine guns, firearm mufflers and silencers. Due to constitutional flaws, the NFA was modified several times. The $200 tax, which was high for the era, was put in place to curtail the transfer of these weapons.

The Federal Firearms Act (FFA) of 1938 required gun manufacturers, importers, and dealers to obtain a federal firearms license. It also defined a group of people, including convicted felons, who could not purchase guns, and mandated that gun sellers keep customer records. The FFA was repealed in 1968 by the Gun Control Act (GCA), though many of its provisions were reenacted by the GCA.

In 1939 the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case United States v. Miller, ruling that through the National Firearms Act of 1934, Congress could regulate the interstate selling of a short barrel shotgun. The court stated that there was no evidence that a sawed off shotgun “has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia,” and thus “we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument.”

Following the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Attorney General and U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed for the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968. The GCA repealed and replaced the FFA, updated Title II of the NFA to fix constitutional issues, added language about “destructive devices” (such as bombs, mines and grenades) and expanded the definition of “machine gun.”

Overall the bill banned importing guns that have “no sporting purpose,” imposed age restrictions for the purchase of handguns (gun owners had to be 21), prohibited felons, the mentally ill, and others from purchasing guns, required that all manufactured or imported guns have a serial number, and according to the ATF, imposed “stricter licensing and regulation on the firearms industry.”

In 1986 the Firearm Owners Protection Act was passed by Congress. The law mainly enacted protections for gun owners &mdash prohibiting a national registry of dealer records, limiting ATF inspections to once per year (unless there are multiple infractions), softening what is defined as “engaging in the business” of selling firearms, and allowing licensed dealers to sell firearms at “gun shows” in their state. It also loosened regulations on the sale and transfer of ammunition.

The bill also codified some gun control measures, including expanding the GCA to prohibit civilian ownership or transfer of machine guns made after May 19, 1986, and redefining “silencer” to include parts intended to make silencers.

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 is named after White House press secretary James Brady, who was permanently disabled from an injury suffered during an attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. (Brady died in 2014). It was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The law, which amends the GCA, requires that background checks be completed before a gun is purchased from a licensed dealer, manufacturer or importer. It established the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is maintained by the FBI.

Tucked into the sweeping and controversial Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, signed by President Clinton in 1994, is the subsection titled Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act. This is known as the assault weapons ban &mdash a temporary prohibition in effect from September of 1994 to September of 2004. Multiple attempts to renew the ban have failed.

The provisions of the bill outlawed the ability to “manufacture, transfer, or possess a semiautomatic assault weapon,” unless it was “lawfully possessed under Federal law on the date of the enactment of this subsection.” Nineteen military-style or “copy-cat” assault weapons&mdashincluding AR-15s, TEC-9s, MAC-10s, etc.&mdashcould not be manufactured or sold. It also banned “certain high-capacity ammunition magazines of more than ten rounds,” according to a U.S. Department of Justice Fact Sheet.

The Tiahrt Amendment, proposed by Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), prohibited the ATF from publicly releasing data showing where criminals purchased their firearms and stipulated that only law enforcement officers or prosecutors could access such information.

“The law effectively shields retailers from lawsuits, academic study and public scrutiny,” The Washington Post wrote in 2010. “It also keeps the spotlight off the relationship between rogue gun dealers and the black market in firearms.”

There have been efforts to repeal this amendment.

In 2005, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was signed by President George W. Bush to prevent gun manufacturers from being named in federal or state civil suits by those who were victims of crimes involving guns made by that company.

The first provision of this law is “to prohibit causes of action against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, and importers of firearms or ammunition products, and their trade associations, for the harm solely caused by the criminal or unlawful misuse of firearm products or ammunition products by others when the product functioned as designed and intended.” It also dismissed pending cases on October 26, 2005.

District of Columbia v. Heller essentially changed a nearly 70-year precedent set by Miller in 1939. While the Miller ruling focused on the “well regulated militia” portion of the Second Amendment (known as the “collective rights theory” and referring to a state’s right to defend itself), Heller focused on the “individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia.”

Heller challenged the constitutionality of a 32-year-old handgun ban in Washington, D.C., and found, “The handgun ban and the trigger-lock requirement (as applied to self-defense) violate the Second Amendment.”

It did not however nullify other gun control provisions. “The Court&rsquos opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms,” stated the ruling.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated what happened to White House Press Secretary James Brady during an attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. He was injured and permanently disabled, but he did not die in the attack. He died in 2014.


Before diving into an analysis, it’s worth touching on the methodology behind this graphic’s design.

This map highlights thousands of the world’s most popular websites by visualizing them as “countries.” These “countries” are organized into clusters that are grouped by their content type (whether it’s a news website, search engine, e-commerce platform, etc).

Editor’s fun fact: Can you spot Visual Capitalist? We’re right in between TechCrunch and The Guardian above.

The colored borders represent a website’s logo or user interface. In terms of scale, each website’s territory size is based on its average Alexa web traffic ranking. The data is a yearly average, measured from January 2020 to January 2021.

Along the borders of the map, you can find additional information, from ranked lists of social media consumption to a mini-map of average download speeds across the globe.

According to the designer Martin Vargic, this map took about a year to complete.


What was the basis for valuating large territorial purchases by USA? - History

William McKinley: The Acquisition of the Philippines

By a protocol signed at Washington August 12, 1898 . . . it was agreed that the United States and Spain would each appoint not more than five commissioners to treat of peace, and that the commissioners so appointed should meet at Paris not later than October 1, 1898, and proceed to the negotiation and conclusion of a treaty of peace, which treaty should be subject to ratification according to the respective constitutional forms of the two countries.

For the purpose of carrying into effect this stipulation, I have appointed you as commissioners on the part of the United States to meet and confer with commissioners on the part of Spain.

  1. The relinquishment of all claim of sovereignty over and title to Cuba.
  2. The cession to the United States of Puerto Rico and other islands under Spanish sovereignty in the West Indies.
  3. The cession of an island in the Ladrones, to be selected by the United States.
  4. The immediate evacuation by Spain of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and other Spanish islands in the West Indies.
  5. The occupation by the United States of the city, bay, and harbor of Manila pending the conclusion of a treaty of peace which should determine the control, disposition, and government of the Philippines.

These demands were conceded by Spain, and their concession was, as you will perceive, solemnly recorded in the protocol of the 12th of August. . . .

It is my wish that throughout the negotiations entrusted to the Commission the purpose and spirit with which the United States accepted the unwelcome necessity of war should be kept constantly in view. We took up arms only in obedience to the dictates of humanity and in the fulfillment of high public and moral obligations. We had no design of aggrandizement and no ambition of conquest. Through the long course of repeated representations which preceded and aimed to avert the struggle, and in the final arbitrament of force, this country was impelled solely by the purpose of relieving grievous wrongs and removing long-existing conditions which disturbed its tranquillity, which shocked the moral sense of mankind, and which could no longer be endured.

It is my earnest wish that the United States in making peace should follow the same high rule of conduct which guided it in facing war. It should be as scrupulous and magnanimous in the concluding settlement as it was just and humane in its original action. The luster and the moral strength attaching to a cause which can be confidently rested upon the considerate judgment of the world should not under any illusion of the hour be dimmed by ulterior designs which might tempt us into excessive demands or into an adventurous departure on untried paths. It is believed that the true glory and the enduring interests of the country will most surely be served if an unselfish duty conscientiously accepted and a signal triumph honorably achieved shall be crowned by such an example of moderation, restraint, and reason in victory as best comports with the traditions and character of our enlightened republic.

Our aim in the adjustment of peace should be directed to lasting results and to the achievement of the common good under the demands of civilization, rather than to ambitious designs. The terms of the protocol were framed upon this consideration. The abandonment of the Western Hemisphere by Spain was an imperative necessity. In presenting that requirement, we only fulfilled a duty universally acknowledged. It involves no ungenerous reference to our recent foe, but simply a recognition of the plain teachings of history, to say that it was not compatible with the assurance of permanent peace on and near our own territory that the Spanish flag should remain on this side of the sea. This lesson of events and of reason left no alternative as to Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the other islands belonging to Spain in this hemisphere.

The Philippines stand upon a different basis. It is nonetheless true, however, that without any original thought of complete or even partial acquisition, the presence and success of our arms at Manila imposes upon us obligations which we cannot disregard. The march of events rules and overrules human action. Avowing unreservedly the purpose which has animated all our effort, and still solicitous to adhere to it, we cannot be unmindful that, without any desire or design on our part, the war has brought us new duties and responsibilities which we must meet and discharge as becomes a great nation on whose growth and career from the beginning the ruler of nations has plainly written the high command and pledge of civilization.

Incidental to our tenure in the Philippines is the commercial opportunity to which American statesmanship cannot be indifferent. It is just to use every legitimate means for the enlargement of American trade but we seek no advantages in the Orient which are not common to all. Asking only the open door for ourselves, we are ready to accord the open door to others. The commercial opportunity which is naturally and inevitably associated with this new opening depends less on large territorial possession than upon an adequate commercial basis and upon broad and equal privileges. . . .

In view of what has been stated, the United States cannot accept less than the cession in full right and sovereignty of the island of Luzon. It is desirable, however, that the United States shall acquire the right of entry for vessels and merchandise belonging to citizens of the United States into such ports of the Philippines as are not ceded to the United States upon terms of equal favor with Spanish ships and merchandise, both in relation to port and customs charges and rates of trade and commerce, together with other rights of protection and trade accorded to citizens of one country within the territory of another. You are therefore instructed to demand such concession, agreeing on your part that Spain shall have similar rights as to her subjects and vessels in the ports of any territory in the Philippines ceded to the United States.


Relief

The centre of the conterminous United States is a great sprawling interior lowland, reaching from the ancient shield of central Canada on the north to the Gulf of Mexico on the south. To east and west this lowland rises, first gradually and then abruptly, to mountain ranges that divide it from the sea on both sides. The two mountain systems differ drastically. The Appalachian Mountains on the east are low, almost unbroken, and in the main set well back from the Atlantic. From New York to the Mexican border stretches the low Coastal Plain, which faces the ocean along a swampy, convoluted coast. The gently sloping surface of the plain extends out beneath the sea, where it forms the continental shelf, which, although submerged beneath shallow ocean water, is geologically identical to the Coastal Plain. Southward the plain grows wider, swinging westward in Georgia and Alabama to truncate the Appalachians along their southern extremity and separate the interior lowland from the Gulf.

West of the Central Lowland is the mighty Cordillera, part of a global mountain system that rings the Pacific basin. The Cordillera encompasses fully one-third of the United States, with an internal variety commensurate with its size. At its eastern margin lie the Rocky Mountains, a high, diverse, and discontinuous chain that stretches all the way from New Mexico to the Canadian border. The Cordillera’s western edge is a Pacific coastal chain of rugged mountains and inland valleys, the whole rising spectacularly from the sea without benefit of a coastal plain. Pent between the Rockies and the Pacific chain is a vast intermontane complex of basins, plateaus, and isolated ranges so large and remarkable that they merit recognition as a region separate from the Cordillera itself.

These regions—the Interior Lowlands and their upland fringes, the Appalachian Mountain system, the Atlantic Plain, the Western Cordillera, and the Western Intermontane Region—are so various that they require further division into 24 major subregions, or provinces.


History of Gun Control

The United States has 120.5 guns per 100 people, or about 393,347,000 guns, which is the highest total and per capita number in the world. 22% of Americans own one or more guns (35% of men and 12% of women). America’s pervasive gun culture stems in part from its colonial history, revolutionary roots, frontier expansion, and the Second Amendment, which states: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Proponents of more gun control laws state that the Second Amendment was intended for militias that gun violence would be reduced that gun restrictions have always existed and that a majority of Americans, including gun owners, support new gun restrictions.

Opponents say that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to own guns that guns are needed for self-defense from threats ranging from local criminals to foreign invaders and that gun ownership deters crime rather than causes more crime.

Guns in Colonial and Revolutionary America

Gun control laws are just as old or older than the Second Amendment (ratified in 1791). Some examples of gun control throughout colonial America included criminalizing the transfer of guns to Catholics, slaves, indentured servants, and Native Americans regulating the storage of gun powder in homes banning loaded guns in Boston houses and mandating participation in formal gathering of troops and door-to-door surveys about guns owned. [1][2]

Guns were common in the American Colonies, first for hunting and general self-protection and later as weapons in the American Revolutionary War. [105] Several colonies’ gun laws required that heads of households (including women) own guns and that all able-bodied men enroll in the militia and carry personal firearms. [105]

Some laws, including in Connecticut (1643) and at least five other colonies, required “at least one adult man in every house to carry a gun to church or other public meetings” in order to protect against attacks by Native Americans prevent theft of firearms from unattended homes and, as a 1743 South Carolina law stated, safeguard against “insurrections and other wicked attempts of Negroes and other Slaves.” [105] Other laws required immigrants to own guns in order to immigrate or own land. [105]

The Second Amendment of the US Constitution was ratified on Dec. 15, 1791. The notes from the Constitutional Convention do not mention an individual right to a gun for self-defense. [106] Some historians suggest that the idea of an individual versus a collective right would not have occurred to the Founding Fathers because the two were intertwined and inseparable: there was an individual right in order to fulfill the collective right of serving in the militia. [105][106]

Although guns were common in colonial and revolutionary America, so were gun restrictions. Laws included banning the sale of guns to Native Americans (though colonists frequently traded guns with Native Americans for goods such as corn and fur) banning indentured servants (mainly the Irish) and slaves from owning guns and exempting a variety of professions from owning guns (including doctors, school masters, lawyers, and millers). [105]

An 1879 sign in Dodge City, KS prohibiting the carrying of guns.
Source: Saul Cornell, “What the ‘Right to Bear Arms’ Really Means,” www.salon.com, Jan. 15, 2011

A 1792 federal law required that every man eligible for militia service own a gun and ammunition suitable for military service, report for frequent inspection of their guns, and register his gun ownership on public records. [101] Many Americans owned hunting rifles or pistols instead of proper military guns, and even though the penalty fines were high (over $9,000 in 2014 dollars), they were levied inconsistently and the public largely ignored the law. [105][106]

State Gun Laws: Slave Codes and the “Wild West”

From the 1700s through the 1800s, so-called “slave codes” and, after slavery was abolished in 1865, “black codes” (and, still later, “Jim Crow” laws) prohibited black people from owning guns and laws allowing the ownership of guns frequently specified “free white men.” [98] For example, an 1833 Georgia law stated, “it shall not be lawful for any free person of colour in this state, to own, use, or carry fire arms of any description whatever… that the free person of colour, so detected in owning, using, or carrying fire arms, shall receive upon his bare back, thirty-nine lashes, and that the fire arm so found in the possession of said free person of colour, shall be exposed for public sale.” [107]

Despite images of the “Wild West” from movies, cities in the frontier often required visitors to check their guns with the sheriff before entering the town. [108] In Oct. 1876, Deadwood, Dakota Territory passed a law stating that no one could fire a gun without the mayor’s consent. [109] A sign in Dodge City, Kansas in 1879 read, “The Carrying of Fire Arms Strictly Prohibited.” [108] The first law passed in Dodge City was a gun control law that read “any person or persons found carrying concealed weapons in the city of Dodge or violating the laws of the State shall be dealt with according to law.” [108]

Federal Gun Laws in the 1900s

The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre on Feb. 14, 1929 in Chicago resulted in the deaths of seven gangsters associated with “Bugs” Moran (an enemy of Al Capone) and set off a series of debates and laws to ban machine guns. [110][111] Originally enacted in 1934 in response to mafia crimes, the National Firearms Act (NFA) imposes a $200 tax and a registration requirement on the making and transfer of certain guns, including shotguns and rifles with barrels shorter than 18 inches (“short-barreled”), machine guns, firearm mufflers and silencers, and specific firearms labeled as “any other weapons” by the NFA. [112][113] Most guns are excluded from the Act.

The Federal Firearms Act of 1938 made it illegal to sell guns to certain people (including convicted felons) and required federal firearms licensees (FFLs people who are licensed by the federal government to sell firearms) to maintain customer records. [114] This Act was overturned by the 1968 Gun Control Act.

Former Reagan Press Secretary Jim Brady sits by President BIll Clinton as Clinton signs the Brady Bill into law on Nov. 30, 1993
Source: Eric Bradner, “Hinckley Won’t Face New Charges in Reagan Press Secretary’s Death,” www.cnn.com, Jan 3, 2015

In 1968 the National Firearms Act was revised to address constitutionality concerns brought up by Haynes v. US (1968), namely that unregistered firearms already in possession of the owner do not have to be registered, and information obtained from NFA applications and registrations cannot be used as evidence in a criminal trial when the crime occurred before or during the filing of the paperwork. [112]

On Oct. 22, 1968, prompted by the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy (1963), Malcolm X (1965), Martin Luther King, Jr. (1968), and Robert F. Kennedy (1968), as well as the 1966 University of Texas mass shooting, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) into law. [115] The GCA regulates interstate gun commerce, prohibiting interstate transfer unless completed among licensed manufacturers, importers, and dealers, and restricts gun ownership. [114]

The Firearm Owners’ Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA) revised prior legislation once again. [112][113] The Act, among other revisions to prior laws, allowed gun dealers to sell guns away from the address listed on their license limited the number of inspections the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (now the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) could perform without a warrant prevented the federal government from maintaining a database of gun dealer records and removed the requirement that gun dealers keep track of ammunition sales. [114]

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 (also called the Brady Act) was signed into law on Nov. 30, 1993 and required a five-day waiting period for a licensed seller to hand over a gun to an unlicensed person in states without an alternate background check system. [116] The five-day waiting period has since been replaced by an instant background check system that can take up to three days if there is an inconsistency or more information is needed to complete the sale. [114] Gun owners who have a federal firearms license or a state-issued permit are exempt from the waiting period. [114]

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban (Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act), part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on Sep. 13, 1994. The ban outlawed 19 models of semi-automatic assault weapons by name and others by “military features,” as well as large-capacity magazines manufactured after the law’s enactment. [114] The ban expired on Sep. 13, 2004 and was not renewed due in part to NRA lobbying efforts. [114][117]

Federal and State Gun Laws in the 2000s

Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act and Child Safety Lock Act of 2005 was enacted on Oct. 26 by President George W. Bush and gives broad civil liability immunity to firearms manufacturers so they cannot be sued by a gun death victim’s family. [114][118] The Child Safety Lock Act requires that all handguns be sold with a “secure gun storage or safety device.” [119]

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 was enacted as a condition of the Brady Act and provides incentives to states (including grants from the Attorney General) for them to provide information to NICS including information on people who are prohibited from purchasing firearms. [114] The NICS was implemented on Nov. 30, 1998 and later amended on Jan. 8, 2008 in response to the Apr. 16, 2007 Virginia Tech University shooting so that the Attorney General could more easily acquire information pertinent to background checks such as disqualifying mental conditions. [120]

On Jan. 5, 2016, President Obama announced new executive actions on gun control. His measures take effect immediately and include: an update and expansion of background checks (closing the “gun show loophole”) the addition of 200 ATF agents increased mental health care funding $4 million and personnel to enhance the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (used to link crimes in one jurisdiction to ballistics evidence in another) creating an Internet Investigations Center to track illegal online gun trafficking a new Department of Health and Human Services rule saying that it is not a HIPAA violation to report mental health information to the background check system a new requirement to report gun thefts new research funding for gun safety technologies and more funding to train law enforcement officers on preventing gun casualties in domestic violence cases. [142][143]

Open carry activists in Texas pose with rifles.
Source: TruthVoice, “Texas Set to Approve Open Carry of Pistols,” www.truthvoice.com, Apr. 19, 2015

In addition to federal gun laws, each state has its own set of gun laws ranging from California with the most restrictive gun laws in the country to Arizona with the most lenient, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Brady Campaign’s � State Scorecard.” [121] . 43 of 50 states have a “right to bear arms” clause in their state constitutions. [101]

The most common state gun control laws include background checks, waiting periods, and registration requirements to purchase or sell guns. [121][122] Most states prevent carrying guns, including people with a concealed carry permit, on K-12 school grounds and many states prevent carrying on college campuses. [121][122] Some states ban assault weapons. [121][122]

Gun rights laws include concealed and open carry permits, as well as allowing gun carry in usually restricted areas (such as bars, K-12 schools, state parks, and parking areas). [121][122] Many states have “shoot first” (also called “stand your ground”) laws. [121][122] Open carry of handguns is generally allowed in most states (though a permit may be required). [121][122]

Collective v. Individual Right: Guns and the Supreme Court

Until 2008, the Supreme Court repeatedly upheld a collective right (that the right to own guns is for the purpose of maintaining a militia) view of the Second Amendment, concluding that the states may form militias and regulate guns. [47]

The first time the Court upheld an individual rights interpretation (that individuals have a Constitutional right to own a gun regardless of militia service) of the Second Amendment was the June 26, 2008 US Supreme Court ruling in DC v. Heller. The Court stated that the right could be limited: “There seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms. Of course the right was not unlimited… Thus we do not read the Second Amendment to protect the right of citizens to carry arms for any sort of confrontation, just as we do not read the First Amendment to protect the right of citizens to speak for any purpose.” [1][3]

A portrait of General Ambrose Burnside, first president of the NRA
Source: John Hathorn, “General Ambrose E. Burnside, May 23-1924-September 13, 1881,” www.history.ncsu.edu (accessed May 11, 2015)

The US Supreme Court ruled on June 28, 2010 in McDonald v. Chicago that the Fourteenth Amendment, specifically the Due Process Clause, includes the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms and, thus, the Second Amendment applies to the states as well as the federal government, effectively extending the individual rights interpretation of the Second Amendment to the states. [123]

On June 27, 2016, in Voisine v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled (6-2) that someone convicted of “recklessly” committing a violent domestic assault can be disqualified from owning a gun under the 1996 Lautenberg Amendment to the 1968 Gun Control Act. Associate Justice Elena Kagan, JD, writing the majority opinion, stated: “Congress enacted §922(g)(9) [the Lautenberg Amendment] in 1996 to bar those domestic abusers convicted of garden-variety assault or battery misdemeanors–just like those convicted of felonies–from owning guns.” [150] [151] [152] [153]

On Feb. 20, 2018, the US Supreme Court indicated it would not hear an appeal to California’s 10-day waiting period for gun buyers, thus leaving the waiting period in place. [156] Justice Clarence Thomas said the Court should have heard the challenge, stating “The right to keep and bear arms is apparently this Court’s constitutional orphan,” in reference to the Court not hearing a major Second Amendment case since 2010. [156]

On Apr. 27, 2020, the US Supreme Court indicated it would not rule on New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. et al., v. City of New York. The case revolved around a New York City regulation that prevented residents with “premises licenses” to take their guns to second homes and shooting ranges outside of New York City. The city repealed the regulation when the US Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. The ruling would have been the first on the scope of the Second Amendment in almost a decade. [168]

On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court declined to hear almost a dozen cases appealing gun control laws, leaving the laws in place. In question were laws in Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey that require residents to meet specific criteria to obtain a permit to carry outside of their homes. Also in question was a Massachusetts law banning certain semiautomatic guns and high-capacity magazines and a California law requiring microstamping technology and design features. Justices Thomas and Kavanaugh dissented, arguing that some of the cases should have been heard by the Supreme Court. [173]

The National Rifle Association (NRA)

The National Rifle Association calls itself “America’s longest-standing civil rights organization.” [124] Granted charter on Nov. 17, 1871 in New York, Civil War Union veterans Colonel William C. Church and General George Wingate founded the NRA to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis” to improve the marksmanship of Union troops. [125] General Ambrose Burnside, governor of Rhode Island (1866 to 1869) and US Senator (Mar. 4, 1875 to Sep. 13, 1881), was the first president. [125][126]

Over 100 years later, in 1977, in what is known as the “Revolt at Cincinnati,” new leadership changed the bylaws to make the protection of the Second Amendment right to bear arms the primary focus (ousting the focus on sportsmanship). [127][128] The group lobbied to disassemble the Gun Control Act of 1968 (the NRA alleged the Act gave power to the ATF that was abused), which they accomplished in 1986 with the Firearms Owners Protection Act. [127]

In 1993 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) funded a study completed by Arthur Kellerman and colleagues, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, titled “Gun Ownership as a Risk Factor in the Home,” which found that keeping a gun at home increased the risk of homicide. [129][130][131] The NRA accused the CDC of “promoting the idea that gun ownership was a disease that needed to be eradicated,” and argued that government funding should not be available to politically motivated studies. [129][130][131] The NRA notched a victory when Congress passed the Dickey Amendment, which deducted $2.6 billion from the CDC’s budget, the exact amount of its gun research program, and restricted CDC (and, later, NIH) gun research. [129][130][131] The amendment stated that “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” [129][130][131] The admonition effectively stopped all federal gun research because, as Kellerman stated, “[p]recisely what was or was not permitted under the clause was unclear. But no federal employee was willing to risk his or her career or the agency’s funding to find out.” [130] Jay Dickey (R-AR), now retired from Congress, was the author of the Dickey Amendment and has since stated that he no longer supports the amendment: “I wish we had started the proper research and kept it going all this time… I have regrets.” [144]

As of Jan. 2013, the NRA had approximately 3 million members, though estimates have varied from 2.6 million to 5 million members. [132] In 2013 the NRA spending budget was $290.6 million. [133] The NRA-ILA actively lobbies against universal checks and registration, “large” magazine and “assault weapons” bans, requiring smart gun features, ballistic fingerprinting, firearm traces, and prohibiting people on the terrorist watchlist from owning guns and in favor of self-defense (stand your ground) laws. [134] In 2014 the NRA and NRA-ILA spent $3.36 million on lobbying activity aimed primarily at Congress but also the US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Forest Service. [135]

On Aug. 6, 2020, New York Attorney General Letitia James, JD, MPA, filed a lawsuit arguing for the dissolution of the NRA and the removal of CEO Wayne LaPierre. James has jurisdiction over the NRA because the organization has been registered as a non-profit in New York for 148 years. The lawsuit argues that the NRA has displayed corruption, including ill-gotten funds, and misspending, including inflated salaries that diverted $64 million from the NRA’s charitable mission to fund extravagant lifestyles. James also requested that LaPierre and three top executives repay NRA members. The lawsuit accuses LaPierre of arranging contracts for himself with the NRA worth $17 million without NRA board approval and of not reporting hundreds of thousands in income to the IRS. [177] [178]

Also on Aug. 6, 2020, DC District Attorney General Karl A. Racine, JD, filed a separate lawsuit against the NRA Foundation, alleging that it is not operating independently of the NRA as required by law, but instead the NRA Foundation regularly loaned money to the NRA to address deficits. [177] [178] The NRA stated it would countersue New York Attorney General James for “an unconstitutional, premeditated attack aiming to dismantle and destroy the NRA.” [177] [178]

On Jan. 15, 2021, the NRA filed for bankruptcy, and announced plans to leave New York and move to Texas where the organization will reincorporate. New York Attorney General Letitia James called the move a “tactic to evade accountability and my office’s oversight.” NRA CEO and Executive Vice President Wayne Lapierre stated, “The NRA is pursuing reincorporating in a state that values the contributions of the NRA, celebrates our law-abiding members, and will join us as a partner in upholding constitutional freedom.” On May 11, 2021, a federal judge dismissed the bankruptcy filing, allowing legal proceedings against the NRA to proceed in New York. [180] [183]

The Gun Control Lobby

The start of the modern gun control movement is largely attributed to Mark Borinsky, PhD, who founded the National Center to Control Handguns (NCCH) in 1974. [136] After being the victim of an armed robbery, Borinsky looked for a gun control group to join but found none, founded NCCH, and worked to grow the organization with Edward O. Welles, a retired CIA officer, and N.T. “Pete” Shields, a Du Pont executive whose son was shot and killed in 1975. [136]

Gun control activists, including Mayor Vincent Gray, march in Washington, DC
Source: Bijon Stanard, “Let’s Talk: Obama Speaks Dr. King’s March on Washington 50th Anniversary!,” letstalkbluntly.com, Aug. 8, 2013

In 2001, after a few name changes, the National Center to Control Handguns (NCCH) was renamed the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and its sister organization, the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, was renamed the Brady Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, though they are often referred to collectively as the Brady Campaign. [137] The groups were named for Jim Brady, a press secretary to President Ronald Reagan who was shot and permanently disabled on Mar. 30, 1981 during an assassination attempt on the President. [137]

The 2014 gun control lobby was composed of Everytown for Gun Safety, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Sandy Hook Promise, Americans for Responsible Solutions, and Violence Policy Center. [138] Collectively, these groups spent $1.94 million in 2014, primarily aimed at Congress but also the Executive Office of the President, the Vice President, the White House, Department of Justice, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. [138]

The most-recently available total annual spending budgets for gun control groups were $13.7 million collectively (4.7% of the NRA’s 2013 budget): including Everytown for Gun Safety ($4.7 million in 2012) the Brady Campaign ($2.7 million in 2012) the Brady Center ($3.1 million in 2010) Coalition to Stop Gun Violence ($308,761 in 2011) Sandy Hook Promise ($2.2 million in 2013) and the Violence Policy Center ($750,311 in 2012). [133]

The Current Gun Control Debate

Largely, the current public gun control debate in the United States occurs after a major mass shooting. There were at least 126 mass shootings between Jan. 2000 and July 2014. [139][140] Proponents of more gun control often want more laws to try to prevent the mass shootings and call for smart gun laws, background checks, and more protections against the mentally ill buying guns. Opponents of more gun laws accuse proponents of using a tragedy to further a lost cause, stating that more laws would not have prevented the shootings. A Dec. 10, 2014 Pew Research Center survey found 52% of Americans believe the right to own guns should be protected while 46% believe gun ownership should be controlled, a switch from 1993 when 34% wanted gun rights protected and 57% wanted gun ownership controlled. [141] According to a Feb. 20, 2018 Quinnipiac Poll taken shortly after the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 66% of American voters support stricter gun control laws. [155]

On Dec. 18, 2018, the US Justice Department announced a new rule banning bump stocks, a gun attachment that allows a semi-automatic gun to fire rapidly like an automatic weapon. As of Mar. 26, 2019, the new rule classifies bump stocks as machine guns, which bans them nationwide under existing gun control laws. [161]

A May 2019 Quinnipiac poll found that, while 61% of Americans are in favor of stricter gun laws, there were differences in support between political parties: 91% of Democrats, 59% of Independents, and 32% of Republicans supported more gun laws. [165]

On Apr. 8, 2021, Attorney General Merrick Garland outlined five actions to be taken by the Biden Administration to curb gun violence:

  1. “Measure the problem of criminal gun trafficking in a data-driven way
  2. Close a regulatory loophole that has contributed to the proliferation of so-called ‘ghost guns’
  3. Make clear that statutory restrictions on short-barreled rifles apply when certain stabilizing braces are added to high-powered pistols
  4. Publish model ‘red flag’ legislation for states
  5. Empower communities to combat and prevent gun violence, making more than $1 billion in funding available through over a dozen grant programs.” [182]

2020 COVID-19 Pandemic

The 2020 COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic caused gun sales to rise, and resulted in a conflict between the NRA and several states when gun and ammo shops were not included as essential businesses during stay-at-home orders. [166] A significant portion of schools in the US were temporarily closed in Mar. 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). That month was the first March to pass without a school shooting since 2002, the year most 2020 high school seniors were born. [167]

The FBI conducted over 3.7 million gun background checks in Mar. 2020 for the sale of 1.9 million guns in the US, the second highest number of gun sales in one month after Jan. 2013, which saw gun sales reach 2 million following President Obama’s reelection and the Dec. 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The FBI conducted over 2.9 million background checks in Apr. 2020, over 3.1 million in May 2020, over 3.9 million in June 2020 (an all-time high), and over 3.6 million in July 2020 as the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic continued. [169][170][174][175]

The FBI conducted more background checks in 2020 than in any other year since 1998 when the agency began collecting data. The FBI reported 39,695,315 background checks completed in 2020, up from 2019 in which 28,369,750 million checks were performed. [181]