Speakeasy forum

General discussion

Interesting tidbits about the history of gun control

by Steven Haninger / February 1, 2013 10:03 PM PST

While recalling the legal fight regarding "Saturday Night Special" handguns many years ago, I found this. It's a wiki so I offer it without claiming it to be authoritative.


From the article:

"The Army and Navy law prohibited the sale of "belt or pocket pistols, or revolvers, or any other kind of pistols, except army or navy pistols," which were prohibitively expensive for black freedmen and poor whites to purchase."

This would mean that, at one time, only military grade weapons could be made available for purchase. Interesting how that today's effort is to ban them.

As for the "Saturday Night Specials", these were the cheaply made guns thought to be most available for use by criminals. The idea of banning them was, as I recall, to take guns out of the hands of bad guys. Well, the bad guys use Glocks now. Purpose served? Wink

Post a reply
Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Interesting tidbits about the history of gun control
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Interesting tidbits about the history of gun control
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Collapse -
One aspect, typically, attempt to reserve something for only
by Roger NC / February 1, 2013 10:19 PM PST

the rich

Collapse -
That might be one interpretation
by Steven Haninger / February 1, 2013 10:35 PM PST

but it could well have been to ban such guns that were easily concealed. Did you see the size of those pistols?

Collapse -
true, only one aspect is what I meant
by Roger NC / February 1, 2013 11:13 PM PST

the old "saturday night specials" were designed to be easily concealed and cheap.

Every see one of those 4 shot 22 pistols? almost concealable just in your hand. Years ago I knew at least two store owners who walked around with one in there pocket almost all the time. Accuracy at more than a few feet was not good, the barrel lenght was only about twice the lenght of the ammo. The ones I'm referring to were probably 3 to 4 inches long, it "broke" like an old single shot or double barrel shotgun. There were 4 holes bored in a square rod for a barrel. You loaded 4 shells in and snapped it shut.I'm not sure how the firing pin reached each, since there was no revolving cylinder. I never saw one actually fired. Not only small enough to carry and concealed, but light enough to carry in a pocket without dragging your pants sideways.

I had police 38 special an older relative gave me as a young teenager, firing pin was broke, it wouldnt fire even if I had ammo. Revolver with 5 chamber cylinder. Memory from that young and from the pespective back then is suspect, but I recall it being heavier than those little 22 I described but it was a several years later I really saw the super small 22 pistols.

Collapse -
Sounds like it would be good for
by JP Bill / February 1, 2013 11:42 PM PST

blowing the end of the shooters finger off.

Finger longer than the gun barrel.

Collapse -
A youtube video of something like I remember
by Roger NC / February 1, 2013 11:50 PM PST
Collapse -
More yet about the "Saturday Night Special"
by Steven Haninger / February 1, 2013 11:52 PM PST

How factual, I don't know but it seems the term is a lot older than it's use in my own life. It would seem that gun control has been discussed from the beginning of US history and almost constantly after the 2nd Amendment was passed. For some reason blacks and poor whites were both singled out as being undesirable as weapons owners. Of course that reason is likely that poorer people would be more likely to use guns for robbery while richer people used paper and pen....or so says a song called Pretty Boy Floyd.
Collapse -
well don't forget that the we the people
by Roger NC / February 2, 2013 12:00 AM PST

was by many of the leaders at the time thought to mean property owners only, which happen to be all white, European descent males.

Servants, slave or poor trash, weren't to be trusted with guns or leadership. Heck, if you believe the legend of Robin Hood, the banning of weapons happened before America was discovered. Peasants weren't to have bows, hunting was for the gentry only, etc.

The ideals were good in 1770's, but the trappings of the time can't be forgotten either. Changes have occured, for good and bad, but I'd rather it be as it has developed that it to have stayed frozen as it was then.

Collapse -
Yep Steven, and thanks for remembering.
by Ziks511 / February 8, 2013 3:16 PM PST

Charles A,. Pretty Boy Floyd was an outlaw of the 20's and Dirty Thirties. According to the song, when he begged a meal from a farm family, some would find a $100 bill under the plate after he left. When finally caught and wounded, FBI man Melvin Purvis walked up to him as he lay on the ground to question him, and when Floyd cursed him out, Purvis instructed his colleague with a sub machine gun to shoot him up throroughly killing him. Purvis had been cheated of his ability to capture Dillinger by Hoover's grandstand visit to "personally arrest" Dillinger.
Police procedures seem to have improved in the treatment of the wounded.

"As round this world I've travelled, I've met many kinds of men,
Some'll rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen."

The implication of the song is that the stand-up robber is more honest than the Banker/Feed store owner or any of the myriad of money men with whom farmers had to deal.



Collapse -
One argument against the cheap guns
by Steven Haninger / February 1, 2013 11:54 PM PST

were that they were just as likely to injure the shooter as the shootee (if there's such a word). Well...so what! Happy

Collapse -
(NT) Be interesting if all weapons harmed both equally
by Roger NC / February 2, 2013 12:01 AM PST
Collapse -
I think the firing pin on those turned just like
by Steven Haninger / February 2, 2013 1:07 AM PST

the clicker on a ball point pen. Each pull rotated the cylinder 90 degrees. The firing pin on the cylinder edge matched the rim fire 22s just fine.

Collapse -
(NT) that's what the youtube video looked like
by Roger NC / February 2, 2013 10:39 PM PST
Collapse -
The ban was multi-dimensional ...
by scrooster / February 9, 2013 10:30 AM PST

That old Saturday Night Special ban was multi-dimensional. It went after guns on several levels and for several different government, and anti-gun zealot, so-called justifications:

1 - It was claimed that they were used in most street crimes.

2 - The two largest manufacturers of Saturday Night Specials were Davis Industries and Lorcin Industries, both California based companies that liberal politicians in California wanted out of business.

3 - The pistols and revolvers did seem to have a high rate of failure. They were often made from poorly constructed pot metals and manufactured under pitifully engineered design plans.

There was also some concern that the pistols were about to become the Liberator pistols of the day - mocking the cheaply built mass produced single shot 45 ACP pistols Allies distributed to the European underground in WWII. The idea was to use the single shot pistols to kill Nazis, and in doing so you would take the Nazi weapon from the dead solider and kill another, then another, then another and so on. There was a claim in the sixties that the Saturday Night Specials were being used to rob and steal better weapons from an unsuspecting public.

Collapse -
by the numbers
by James Denison / February 9, 2013 2:03 PM PST

1) Obviously they were effective for criminals.

2) My .25 semi auto at that time was by Excam, manufactured in Miami, not California.
Good enough for self defense and easy concealment when working graveyard in a
convenience store.

3) They were accurate enough to hit a person, somewhere, within 25 feet, good enough for store work.

I will add number 4, which is nobody would consider them "weapons of mass destruction".

Collapse -
weapons of mass destruction
by Roger NC / February 9, 2013 11:34 PM PST
In reply to: by the numbers

New laws and penalites in response to events like Oklahoma bombing for people using "weapons of mass destruction".

Next thing I see is local. A man arrested and a shotgun less than the legal minimum length was found in his possession. Evening news lead he was arrested and charged with possession of a weapon of mass destruction.

I dislike such a disparage use of laws from what they were intended by any.

Collapse -
The news media will print what it wants to print
by Steven Haninger / February 10, 2013 12:12 AM PST

in any way it wishes to print it. The less clear it is and the more emotion it causes, all the better. The operate almost without impunity.

Collapse -
it's not just the media in this case
by Roger NC / February 10, 2013 1:26 AM PST

it was the application of a law passed in response to huge bombings to a sawed off shotgun.

It was just the DA piling every charge he could on to either get more jail time or give a better bargaining position. I understand the desire, hell there are some arrested for minor crimes that based on their past repeat and repeat offenses should just be given life and forget about it.

But it is an example of how things are twisted to be used, while technically correct the use is one I bet no one envision when proposing or passing the law.

That same sawed off shotgun was charged as possession of an illegal firearm and possesstion of a weapon of mass destruction.

It's kind of like the law here now you have to get a tax stamp for each illegal drug sale you make. That's just an end around run to change the sentence length for drug sellling. No one really has a problem with it because they want the drug dealers locked up for longer times. But it's a bit dishonest, they can't get the consenus to change the legal sentence, so they add new illegalities with their own sentencing to the same act.

Collapse -
Military items
by Willy / February 2, 2013 12:54 AM PST

That locally here it's interesting to buy from the military post or locale from the world famous shooting range, Port Clinton, OH. Still 4-sale are M1 Garands that make a good shooter of anyone that can with little training hit targets, a looooongg ways off. Of course, these are out outrageously priced for what was the common infantry rifle of WWII.

As i recall, gun restrictions came in a big way from the assassination of Prez. Kennedy. Once, it was realized how the weapon got brought, etc., that new laws came into the books. Remember, you could practically order any semi-auto via mail order at that time. Now, you practically have to give your right arm to get anything. All these laws one way or another came on the books because of some nut or wrongfully used firearm. It didn't stop anyone of doing what they wanted to do, but even with restrictions, it seems someone can grab a legally brought firearm and do harm. So, only if total denial of firearms will you control or lessen harm to remove it. But, this is America and no law should infringe on ownership of firearms. You change that Amendment, then no Amendment is safe. -----Willy Happy

Collapse -
any amendment can be changed
by Roger NC / February 2, 2013 2:19 AM PST
In reply to: Military items

by another amendment only legally.

Collapse -
Don't trend on me
by Willy / February 2, 2013 10:13 PM PST

"You change that Amendment, then no Amendment is safe."

Which is why you hardly see it happening. Those 1st written Amendments are basically like bed rock, they stand on their own. Once, you change the tenants of these, you really change the whole context. So, it takes a greater need for a change. For all intents and purposes, let's hope there are far greater sane people owning firearms than not. Not only that but already vetted to legally do so. Once you impose too many or rewrite the laws that overall just severely restrict ownership, you're chipping away at that Amendment. This is what many see is happening and it's not those that illegally worry about this, it's those that legally obtained their firearms. This is the result of what our founding fathers had to content with and *why* it's been so written in the 1st place. -----Willy Happy

Collapse -
just pointing out the obvious, not arguing it should be done
by Roger NC / February 2, 2013 10:41 PM PST
In reply to: Don't trend on me

And I really don't see it happening in my lifetime if ever.

Given how old I feel some mornings (justified or not) maybe I should say in the next generations lifetime.

Collapse -
No change needed. Stretching works just fine.
by Steven Haninger / February 2, 2013 11:15 PM PST
In reply to: Don't trend on me

Look what happened to simple freedom of speech. I was taught that it's purpose was to protect citizens from the government should they dare to criticize it. What does that have to do with such as artistic expression being permitted to include pornography and other obscenities? Freedom of speech? Yeah...the founders would have loved to have had a subscription to Hustler. Happy

Collapse -
It's also the case that they were the "first
by drpruner / February 5, 2013 10:55 AM PST
In reply to: Don't trend on me

ten amendments" because the small-t tories of NY wouldn't accept the Constitution with them. I'm not sure which of them were especially objectionable to them. Interesting possibility: 'conservatives were for gun control/infringing from the start' ... except that was not an issue then AFAIK. Must have been something other than that.
Related to the racial aspect of the thread is that one of the original articles of USC permitted the slave trade in the new country until 1800-something. That article was like Mission Impossible: self-destructed on that date, so you won't often see it in public school texts. But, if we thought slaves were crammed in those holds before the Constitution passed ...
Good thread BTW. Not much vitriol.

Buncha wimps! Happy

Collapse -
One thing I find interesting is how the racial component
by Steven Haninger / February 5, 2013 6:59 PM PST

comes into prominence especially in the second link I posted later. I believe it was just as important to mention "poor whites" as the target. This effectively negates the racial motivation and shifts toward one of economic status and the fear that those in the lower pay grades are the most likely to turn to criminal activity. Having a gun that was easy to hide would be an asset to a criminal. Having one that didn't cost much would be all the better. Former slaves and most other black persons were probably not among those who could afford the authorized weapons and neither could the poorer whites. Thus, the regulation was based on fear of the poor rather than fear of the darker skinned. I'd need to think that focusing on the racial component just fits better into a political agenda. It's far easier to isolate a race than an economic group and get them to unite for a cause.

Collapse -
Exactly. But "afraid of the poor" wasn't the case IMO
by drpruner / February 8, 2013 6:05 AM PST

with the White bosses- they generated fear of blacks to give the impression that they [bosses] were siding with their color. The poll tax of course hit both colors at the poverty level.

Collapse -
The poll tax was accompanied by a literacy test, Doug.
by Ziks511 / February 8, 2013 3:32 PM PST

White residents were asked to explain a comic from the newspaper, Blacks were handed the Constitution of the State and asked to explain some particularly obscure point of law.

I remember reading about Literacy tests in Hawaii in the 20's and 30's, A piece of paper was wrapped around a pencil, and then the pencil was broken tearing the paper. The asian voter was asked to describe what had happened, if he said it broke, he was wrong. If he said it tore, he was wrong, if he said that the pencil broke tearing the newspaper, he was okay. What do you think the percentages were given the limited grasp of English most imported Chinese and Japanese labour were able to achieve?

"Where equality is uncontested, so also is subordination" George Bernard Shaw.

In a free society, equality in the absence of absolute acceptance of equality among peoples which hasn't happened in the US, ever. (Use of Broken or very old Polling Machines in majority Black precincts. Long lines to vote which failed to allow those wanting to vote to beat the closing of the polls etc etc etc) The struggle to block groups perceived as being for one party or another has persisted since the 18th Century.


Collapse -
absolute equality never existed anywhere
by Roger NC / February 8, 2013 8:44 PM PST

We've got a lot of problems. We need to do better in a lot of ways, even if there is a huge disagreement on what is wrong and what should be done. But we're still better off than most, and we're not as wrong as many inside and outside want to label us.

The racial problems in the US get news all the time, in fact sometimes some discussion IMO makes it worse rather than better by rehashing things that have been faced and should be left behind. But no country doesn't have a group that overtly or subtlely is discriminated against. Very few other countries have the numbers of different cultures we do or allow them.

But I still agree with the old commercial that made some comment about problems with our government, then rolled a long list of all the worse forms. How did it go? democracy is a terrible form of government, until you consider the alternatives, or some phrase along those lines.

If the kings of "divine right" had also always kept and enforce in their nobles the responsibility of "Noblesse oblige" and had actually believed as was claimed they were responsible to protect their subjects, most would have been pretty good societies probably.

But the old saw power corrupts seems much more accurate than noblesse oblige, be it monarchy, dictatorship, or democracy.

Collapse -
Winston Churchill:"Democracy is the worst form of government
by Ziks511 / February 9, 2013 12:51 AM PST

ever conceived. Except for all the others."

Winnie was a wonderful user of paradox.

Lady Astor (an American-born Conservative Party appeasement advocate) "Winston, if I were your wife, I'd put arsenic in your soup."
"Madam, if you were my wife, I would drink it."


Collapse -
When slings are outlawed only ...
by drpruner / February 4, 2013 9:12 AM PST

interesting comments here. BTW the infamous poll tax kept the poor from voting:
Blacks and "poor white trash". Kept the controllers
in control. No vote, no gun, no literacy ... And racism was 'beneficial'
because it kept uneducated whites thinking that Boss Whomever was their savior.</div><div>As to the comments about the WASP
founding fathers [no mothers need apply]: The historian Charles Beard would
have been fired from Harvard except for tenure, when he wrote <i>An Economic Interpretation of the
Constitution</i>, which documented that very assertion.</div><div>Roger: "banning of weapons happened before America was discovered".
(1 Samuel 13:19-22) . . .Now there was not a smith to be found in all
the land of Israel, because the Philistines had said: "That the Hebrews may not
make a sword or a spear." And all the Israelites would go down to the
Philistines to get each one his plowshare or his mattock or his ax or his
sickle sharpened. And the price for sharpening proved to be a pim for the
plowshares and for the mattocks and for the three-toothed instruments and for
the axes and for fixing fast the oxgoad. And it happened on the day of
battle that not a sword or a spear was found in the hand of any of the people
that were with Saul and Jonathan; but there could be found one belonging to
Saul and to Jonathan his son.

'When slings are
outlawed only Phillstines will have slingshots!'</div><div>Or, He is making wars to
cease to the extremity of the earth. The bow he breaks apart and does cut the
spear in pieces; The wagons he burns in the fire. "Give in, YOU people, and
know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in
the earth." Jehovah of armies is with us; The God of Jacob is a secure height
for us.

Collapse -
(NT) Beard: Scratch "Harvard"; add "Columbia". Sorry.
by drpruner / February 8, 2013 6:14 AM PST
Popular Forums
Computer Help 49,613 discussions
Computer Newbies 10,349 discussions
Laptops 19,436 discussions
Security 30,426 discussions
TVs & Home Theaters 20,308 discussions
Windows 10 360 discussions
Phones 15,802 discussions
Windows 7 7,351 discussions
Networking & Wireless 14,641 discussions


$16,000 used SUVs

Whether you like your SUVs cute or capable, or some blend of the two, we've got a wide variety of choices in Roadshow's first collection of Editors' Used Picks.