REPRESENTATIVE MCCORMACK:You have contacted such as you could and wired the members of the [National Rifle] Association?
GENERAL RECKORB:In each state, or practically every state, we have a state rifle association, and we advised a number of those people that the bearing would be held today....
MCCORMACK:Did you ask them to wire here?
RECKORB:I do not recall the exact language of the telegram; I would say yes, probably we did....
McCoRMACK:Did you wire the people telling them what the recommendations were going to be to the Committee?
RECKORB:No, except that the legislation was bad.
MCCORMACK:And they blindly followed it?
RECKORD:I would not say blindly.
--Exchange between Representative John W. McCormack (D-Mass.) and General M.A. Reckord, executive vice- president of the NRA, concerning the flood of mail members of Congress had received in response to an NRA message that erroneously claimed that pending legislation would lead to federal fingerprinting and photographing of all gun purchasers
THE interest-group pressures discussed in chapter 4 converge primarily on Congress. As the sparring from 1934 between Representative McCormack and General Reckord suggests, the political texture of gun issues in Congress has maintained an astonishing degree of similarity in the past seven decades. Yet the policy line since the 1930s reflects, one might argue, a regression (either desirable or undesirable, depending on one's point of view). In the 1930s, national gun registration was openly advanced as an achievable national policy. In the 1990s, gun control supporters would hail as a great, even landmark, victory the passage of a modest, even marginal, policy change--enactment of a five-day waiting period for handgun purchases.