Gun control in America There were no federal laws and few state laws regulating the ownership of firearms prior to the 1930s. In looking at federal regulations, the first federal gun control law was the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934. The NFA was enacted in response to increasing crime brought on by Prohibition; its primary purpose was to reduce the supply of very dangerous and very concealable weapons, such as machine guns (Tommy guns), sawed-off shotguns, and silencers.