Anti-gunners are busy spreading this story around, about how the gun laws of the 1920s and 1930s were more strict than they are now. I’ll call that bluff. If they really believe that, then let’s introduce a bill in Congress that takes us back to the gun laws of the 1920s and 1930s then? Repeal the Gun Control Act and subsequent amendments in its entirety? Where do I sign up? Hey, let’s pick a year in the 1930s. How about 1932? That would get rid of the Federal Firearms Act of 1938, and the National Firearms Act of 1934. Basically, in 1932, there were no federal gun laws, except that you couldn’t ship a pistol by US mail without a license. Or maybe the 20’s instead, say 1922? In 1922 there were no federal gun control laws whatsoever. Let’s just list some of the things we could do.
- Up until 1968, you could mail order a rifle. Up until 1927, you could mail order a pistol too. After that 1927, you needed a license to mail order a pistol though the US mail, but you could still do it via other carriers without a license, and doing so was common.
- Sears was a big seller of firearms via the mail order.
- Firearms could be purchased cash on the barrel. No background check, no forms. Up until as late as 1938, dealers didn’t even have to record sales.
- Machine guns could be mail ordered until 1934. After that, they still could be as long as you paid the transfer tax and the gun was registered.
- Soldiers could bring back rifles, pistols and even machine guns as late as 1968, as long as they registered them and paid the tax.
- After 1938 and before 1968, a Federal Firearms License cost $1. The only requirement was that you keep an acquisition and disposition record. No form 4473. Prior to that anyone could get into the gun business, no questions asked.
- Until 1938, it was legal to sell a firearm to anyone. Classes of prohibited people didn’t exist until the Federal Firearms Act of 1938.
- In the 1920s, only a handful of states had any gun control laws, and those that did weren’t much more numerous than the states that have even worse gun control today (and they were in many cases the same states)
- There were no federal laws restricting firearms to young people until 1968.
- Firearms were not required to have serial numbers until 1938.
- Until 1934, there were no restrictions on suppressors, short-barreled rifles, or short-barreled shotguns.
- As late as when Antonin Scalia was a teenager in the 1940s and 1950s, you could openly carry a rifle on the New York Subway without anyone batting an eye. How’d the antis like to go back to that culture?
Of course, most states by then had restricted concealed carry, but you could still carry openly in most states without a license. In the 20s and 30s, what prohibitions on carry that existed were not uniformly enforced in many states. Either way, those are state issues. It’s absolutely ridiculous to argue that the 1920s and 1930s guns were more regulated than today. The market was a relative free-for-all compared to the restrictions we have today. Hell, I’ll even offer to go back to the federal gun laws of 1965! How about that deal?
These people really can’t be taken seriously most days of the week. The notion they are floating here is absolute pablum, and that’ll be evidenced by the fact that no one on the other side, in their right mind, would take me up on this offer. The majority of federal gun controls we have in this country came with the Gun Control Act of 1968 and subsequent amendments. Then, as now, most states are permissive except a small number of states where gun control is popular. The only thing they’d really undo is the gains we’ve made in reversing concealed carry limitations, and I doubt any of them would make that trade.