The Great Gun Control War of the Twentieth Century - and Its Lessons for Gun Laws Today

By Kopel, David B. | Fordham Urban Law Journal, October 2012 | Go to article overview

The Great Gun Control War of the Twentieth Century - and Its Lessons for Gun Laws Today


Kopel, David B., Fordham Urban Law Journal


Introduction
  I. From the Roaring Twenties to the Calm Fifties
       A. The 1920s
       B. The New Deal and World War II
       C. The 1950s
  II. Things Fall Apart
       A. 1966
       B. 1967
       C. 1968
  III. The 1970s
       A. The Rise of the Handgun Prohibition Lobbies and the
          Revolt at the NRA
       B. Handgun Prohibition Efforts in the District of
          Columbia and Massachusetts
       C. The NRA Counteroffensive, and the Growing
          Sophistication of the Gun Control Lobby
  IV. The Age of Reagan
  V. George H.W. Bush
  VI. The Clinton Era
  VII. The Re-emergence of the Second Amendment
  VIII. Columbine and the 2000 Election
  IX. The Great American Gun War Winds Down
  X. Gun Control in the Twenty-First Century
       A. No Systems Designed to Impede Responsible Gun
          Ownership and Use
       B. No Bans on Common Types of Firearms
       C. Protection of the Right of Self-Defense
       D. Judicial Protection of the Right to Licensed Carry, but
          Not to Unlicensed Concealed Carry

INTRODUCTION

A movement to ban handguns began in the 1920s in the Northeast, led by the conservative business establishment. In response, the National Rifle Association (NRA) began to get involved in politics and was able to defeat handgun prohibition. Gun control and gun rights became the subjects of intense political, social, and cultural battles for much of the rest of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first.

Often, the battles were a clash of absolutes: One side contended that there was absolutely no right to arms, that defensive gun ownership must be prohibited, and that gun ownership for sporting purposes could be, at most, allowed as a very limited privilege. The other side asserted that the right to arms was absolute, and that any gun control laws infringed that right.

By the time that Heller and McDonald came to the Supreme Court, the battles had mostly been resolved. The Supreme Court did not break new ground, but instead reinforced what had become the American consensus: the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, especially for self-defense, is a fundamental individual right. That right, however, is not absolute. There are some gun control laws that do not violate the right, particularly laws which aim to keep guns out of the hands of people who have proven themselves to be dangerous.

In the post-Heller world, as in the post-Brown v. Board of Education world, a key role of the courts will be to enforce federal constitutional rights against some local or state jurisdictions whose extreme laws make them outliers from the national consensus.

I. FROM THE ROARING TWENTIES TO THE CALM FIFTIES

A. The 1920s

During the nineteenth century, gun control was almost exclusively a Southern phenomenon. (1) It was concerned with keeping guns out of the hands of slaves or free blacks before the Civil War, curbing dueling, and suppressing the freedmen after the Civil War. (2) The only gun control that found favor outside the region was restricting the concealed carrying of handguns. (3) While openly carrying weapons ("open carry") was considered legitimate and constitutionally protected, concealed carrying of weapons ("concealed carry") was viewed as something that would be done only by a person who was up to no good. (4)

Towards the end of the century, fears of labor unrest led some states to enact bans on mass armed parades without a permit. (5) Early in the twentieth century, concerns about organized labor, the huge number of immigrants, and race riots in which some blacks defended themselves with firearms led non-Southern states, such as California and Michigan, to enact licensing systems or short waiting periods for handgun purchases. (6) The most famous of these early Northern controls was New York State's Sullivan Law, enacted in 1911, which required permits to own or carry handguns. (7)

During the same period, communist and anarchist groups often attempted to provoke violence. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Great Gun Control War of the Twentieth Century - and Its Lessons for Gun Laws Today
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.