History of Violence


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sawdeanz
April 18, 2012, 11:14 AM
No not the movie.

I'm just wrapping up a semester of a class I'm taking called a History of Violence in America. I thought I might share a little bit of what I gleaned from it, regarding firearms of course.

The question of firearms was wrapped up in the first week. No lie. I'm sure this isn't a surprise to you all, but firearms just aren't a factor when it comes to patterns of violence. The farthest my professor would go was to suggest that the presence of a gun could turn a violent situation deadly more often, as in someone shot with a gun was more likely to die than someone stabbed with a knife.

Most of the class was spent looking at periods of rising violence and falling violence (for example violence rose in the roaring 20s and fell in the great depression) and what caused these patterns. Not once was gun legislation cited as a reason. Sometimes, firearm advances or veteran's war experience was mentioned, but again, patterns of violence are complex and almost always counter intuitive (whoda thunk the depression would be one of the least violent times of our nation?)


p.s. For a project I had to analyse 1913 police reports. There were a surprising number of "one shot stops" with little old revolvers (colt and s&w of course).

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Sam1911
April 18, 2012, 11:18 AM
Very interesting! I'd have enjoyed that class.

The farthest my professor would go was to suggest that the presence of a gun could turn a violent situation deadly more often, as in someone shot with a gun was more likely to die than someone stabbed with a knife.

Did he have any data to back up that statement, or was it just a hypothetical example?

Tim the student
April 18, 2012, 12:08 PM
Sounds like it would be an interesting class.

Out of curiosity, can you tell us a bit about your school?

sawdeanz
April 18, 2012, 01:43 PM
Very interesting! I'd have enjoyed that class.


Did he have any data to back up that statement, or was it just a hypothetical example?
I don't know about data, it seemed like his standard response when asked if guns contribute to violence.

I go to the University of Florida. I'm pursuing a history minor, which just involves taking any of the history classes, so I pick the ones I like

MtnCreek
April 18, 2012, 03:10 PM
For a project I had to analyse 1913 police reports. There were a surprising number of "one shot stops" with little old revolvers (colt and s&w of course).

I wonder if that had anything to do with the lack of action movies and people still thought you were suposed to aim.

4v50 Gary
April 18, 2012, 03:16 PM
Have you read Clayton Cramer's Armed America? It's highly relevant to your paper.

Certaindeaf
April 18, 2012, 03:18 PM
^
Probably the lack of 18" of lard. Never know.

Elm Creek Smith
April 18, 2012, 03:27 PM
I believe a lot of the old timers were still using .45 Colt, .44-40 WCF, and .38-40 WCF in their revolvers back then.

Just sayin'.

ECS

rcmodel
April 18, 2012, 03:35 PM
as in someone shot with a gun was more likely to die than someone stabbed with a knife. I'm not sure I agree completely with that.

A wound from a sharp knife is hard to deal with.
A victim can bleed out before help can get there.

Of course if you get shot in the heart, the same thing can happen.

rc

DoubleTapDrew
April 18, 2012, 04:18 PM
^ I've heard the same thing. There was a quote along the lines of "The loser of a knife fight dies in the street...the winner dies in the hospital"

Steel Horse Rider
April 18, 2012, 04:38 PM
In the days before penicillin a torn wound from a knife was probably more likely to cause a death due to infection than a single clean wound from a bullet so I would suspect historically his information may not be accurate. Due to the proliferation of modern antibiotics (until the so called "super bugs" become commonplace) infection is not viewed as a serious problem. Until the discovery and mass production of penicillin infection from any cut or tear of the skin was a far larger cause of death than the original injury.

rcmodel
April 18, 2012, 04:46 PM
Back in those days bullet wounds were not as clean as a knife cut though.

They were all lead bullets with internal or external grease lube.

As a consequence, they were loaded with dirt and clothing fibers and carried all kinds of nasty stuff into the wound.

A civil war solder, or a Jim Bowie type knife fighter would rather be cut then shot, because getting shot was a sure amputation or slow painful death from blood poisoning.

rc

SlamFire1
April 18, 2012, 05:10 PM
A puncture wound was very bad, be it knife or gun. They just did not know about bacteria and infections.

Wound infection - The scale of wound infections was most evident in times of war. During the American Civil War, erysipelas (necrotizing infection of soft tissue) and tetanus accounted for over 17,000 deaths (anonymous, 1883). Because compound fractures at the time almost invariably were associated with infection, amputation was the only option despite a 25-90% risk of amputation stump infection.

As late as the 19th century, aseptic surgery was not routine practice. Sterilization of instruments began in the 1880s as did the wearing of gowns, masks, and gloves. Halsted (Professor of Surgery, Johns Hopkins University, United States, 1852-1922) introduced rubber gloves to his scrub nurse (and future wife) because she was developing skin irritation from the chemicals used to disinfect instruments. The routine use of gloves was introduces by Halsted's student J. Bloodgood
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/188988-overview

Loosedhorse
April 20, 2012, 12:17 PM
whoda thunk the depression would be one of the least violent times of our nation?Why should we believe that is true?

There is a big difference between violent crime and reported violent crime. We had large numbers of itinerant workers moving from the dust belt to CA and other destinations, often meeting folks who let them know they were not welcome and needed to move along. My guess is that there was violence, but that it did not make it into any official police report to be tallied later.

Also, we often hear that the Saint Valentine Day's Massacre, (1929, 8 months before the Depression began) "caused" the National Firearms Act. But we sometimes forget that the 1930s was the Age of Bank Robberies: Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, Machine Gun Kelly, Willie Sutton, Bonnie and Clyde, Ma Barker and the Barker Boys, Alvin Karpis...and John Dillinger. There are many others, less well known, from that era--does anyone even know who Herman Lamm was, anymore?

One also wonders whether, to the extent that "violent crime" was down in cities like NY, Chicago, and Boston, how much of that was due to the fact that protection money was changing hands, and "violations" were handled "off the books."

One of the least violent times in our history? Maybe.

sawdeanz
April 20, 2012, 05:00 PM
I guess I should clarify that we almost exclusively studied murder, it being the only violent crime consistently and accurately recorded over time. Sure, we discussed all sorts of violence, but when comparing different periods of time, or the "history" of it, murder is the only way and is used as an indicator of the overall level of violence.
I may stand corrected in it being the least violent time, as that is probably now, but it was half as violent as the 20's and half as violent as the 60's. I think that the violence from gangsters and corrupt cops pales in comparison to general trends seen all over the nation. We are talking about normal people who get in fights and kill each other. These people are hardly influenced by crime rings, but seemingly inexplicibly, there will be times when people fight and kill more, and times when they kill less, and the point of the class was to examine the social reasons behind these trends. Usually there is a discrepancy between violence in the north and in the south, which has always been more violent, but the 1930's were the first time both saw a decline at the same time. I'm not saying this decline was caused by the great depression, there were lots of factors. I was just pointing out that one of the interesting parts of the class was that standard theories often failed to explain a particular trend.

Paris
April 21, 2012, 09:30 AM
The farthest my professor would go was to suggest that the presence of a gun could turn a violent situation deadly more often, as in someone shot with a gun was more likely to die than someone stabbed with a knife.

Well, the tell him the FBI disagrees as 8 out of 10 people shot with handguns don't die. :)

beadhead
April 21, 2012, 10:26 AM
Any chance you could post the reading list for the course? I'm guessing Adler's First in Violence is on it.

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