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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 LexisNexis Academic 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.

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 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

States' Laws and Requirements for Concealed Carry Permits Vary across the Nation

This GAO Report describes the concealed carry permit requirements issued by 48 states and permit reciprocity between states for nonresidents. The two states that issue no permits: Illinois (illegal) and Vermont (not required). 2012

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.

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

Firearms Law Deskbook

This work concerns laws which regulate the possession, carrying, transfer, sale, and manufacture of firearms. The right to bear arms, the Gun Control Act, the National Firearms Act, entrapment, and assault weapons all are addressed here.
LEGL REF KF 3941.F573 (annually replaced)

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