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Handgun attitudes in the 50s

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by monotonous_iterancy, Dec 7, 2012.

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  1. monotonous_iterancy

    monotonous_iterancy Member

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    I read that back in the 50s, support for banning handguns was much higher than it is today. Why was this? What changed?
     
  2. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    Crime and more awareness that it is more common that many think.

    Added: In the 50's it was very common to live in a "Leave it to Beaver" neighborhood. Kids wandered safely down the street with their friends and did not carry guns or knives to hurt people. Parents were comfortable with this. Today, many parents don't want their kids wandering out of their sight.

    Now that same neighborhood has cars broken into, home invasions, occasional gunfire at night perhaps... basically you had to move further away from the city to continue with the "Leave it to Beaver" neighborhood. Ward, did you hear that Mr. Wilson's house got broken into and somebody stole his coin collection? :D Turns out to be Dennis the Menace.

    Also: IF banning handguns attitude was so "common" in the 50's, don't you think something would have been added to the 1968 Gun Control Act??
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2012
  3. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Member

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    And your source, please?
     
  4. monotonous_iterancy

    monotonous_iterancy Member

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    According to Gallup:

    "The poll also shows a new low in the percentage of Americans favoring a ban on handgun possession except by the police and other authorized persons, a question that dates back to 1959. Only 28% now favor such a ban. The high point in support for a handgun-possession ban was 60% in the initial measurement in 1959."
     
  5. Skribs

    Skribs Member

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    That and the Internet makes information of news-worthy events (read: bad events) much easier to find, so it seems like it happens more often.
     
  6. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    I certainly don't recall any feeling like that in the 50's.

    The big big push to ban or restrict guns came in the 60's after the JFK, MLK, RFK assassinations.

    All that lead to the Gun Control Act of 1968.

    rc
     
  7. JohnBT

    JohnBT Member

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    "In the 50's it was very common to live in a "Leave it to Beaver" neighborhood. Kids wandered safely down the street with their friends"

    Heck, that was my neighborhood in downtown Baltimore from '55 to '62 when we moved to D.C. Of course, the Beaver didn't live in a rowhouse.

    I don't recall any anti-gun push until JFK was murdered and it was another 5 years until the law was signed.

    John
     
  8. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Member

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    Um
    it was also much more difficult to purchase a handgun
    as bad as 86 was for NFA's, it was actually an improvement over the previous state.
     
  9. General Geoff

    General Geoff Member

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    If by 'difficult' you mean "no paperwork, no background checks, no registration, no permit required, mail order directly to your door," then yes.


    Any restrictions on purchasing handguns pre-'68 were local or state law.
     
  10. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    People tend to tolerate banning something if they themselves have no interest in it. Back in the 50s, I knew very few civilian folks that had handguns. Those that did, shot them relatively little. One reason many of those handguns from that era are in such good shape. Many had them because they were War bringbacks/souvenirs and were kept in the sock drawer. Nowadays, most everybody I know has at least one handgun and many of those are like me and shoot them regularly. The average rifles used for hunting in the 50s were not nearly as accurate or efficient as today's rifles. Success with a rifle for most hunters was not always a gimme. Thus using a handgun as a primary hunting weapon was something reserved for the rich or gun rag writers. Nowadays many states have special handgun seasons or handgun calibers can be used in areas where bottleneck rifle cartridges are illegal. Many of us have delegated ourselves to handgun calibers only, just for the sport. Handgun shooting sports and the new CCW laws have also made a big impact on the subjective feelings towards handgun ownership. How many states had CCW laws on the books back in the 50s? Any?
     
  11. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    I never handled a handgun until I was in college. Never knew much about them or had any desire to learn. For that reason and I suspect my experience isn't unique, "banning" handguns during the 60's had some potential. But what actually happened is that the US restricted imports of cheap handguns (aka Saturday Night Specials). Alot of good that did... since Reagen was shot with an RG. Colt discontinued their small 25 acp and 22 short semi auto pistol that was imported from Spain as a result of this. Never considered that to be much of a Saturday Night Special. But Colt did seem to over react to threatened regulatory changes.
     
  12. Alnamvet68

    Alnamvet68 Member

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    I recall all the men in my family all had concealed handguns; then again, most were NYPD and the rare and only college grad/CPA turned FBI.

    Personally, I only became aware of gun control when the Brady Act was passed, and it somehow made folks think we were a wild west country gone rogue, rife with gun violence, and too easy for one to legally own a handgun, especially in NYC.
     
  13. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

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    ....
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2012
  14. longknife12

    longknife12 Member

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    Back in the50's, I can remember cops teaching a kid how to shoot and reload!To them, a hangun was absolutely no problem.Come to think of it, my first 45 was sold to me by one....I think I was 14-15.
    Dan
    ;)
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2012
  15. JN01

    JN01 Member

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    Polls can be skewed by how the question is asked. The poll also may not reflect how strongly someone feels about a particular subject. So while 60% of those polled in 1959 may have indicated being in favor of a handgun ban, apparently it was not important enough for many people to try to do anything about it.

    Another problem with polls is that they do not take into account the persons knowledge of the subject being asked about. "Do you support stronger, or less restrictive laws on ______" assumes that the person being polled knows what the current law is.

    If handgun ownership was less prevalent in the 50s, people generally would have less personal experience/exposure to them and may not have given them much thought until questioned by the poller, resulting in a knee jerk response.
     
  16. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    As I recall in the 50's as a 10 year old kid, handgun owners I knew about were WWII vets that had a Luger, P-38, or 1911 they brought home from the war.

    Then there were the fishermen and hunters who had a .22 RF revolver or Colt Woodsman pistol.

    One of my dads war vet friends had a .45 Colt SAA, and he was a crack shot with it.
    I saw him kill a crow on top of a windmill about 75 yards away with it once.

    That right there was one of the moments in my life I knew I wanted to learn everything I could about handguns and how to shoot them like that.

    Of course that was in Kansas, and if a Gallop Pole was ever run there, I sure never heard of anyone included in it!

    Probably if they had a poll in NYC, or Chicago, or San Fran Sicko, maybe the results would have turned out like you thought they did.

    But they wouldn't have turned out like that in the heartland I betcha!

    rc
     
  17. HOWARD J

    HOWARD J Member

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    I still lived in Detroit in the 50's----most of the time we did not lock the doors. Most people did not have a gun.
    WOW---did that change in the 60's & white flight began.
    Detroit was somewhere about 1.700,000---today about 750,000
     
  18. Rembrandt

    Rembrandt Member

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    Coincidence?.....perhaps "film noir"?....add to it the high number of westerns at that time with handgun violence. Not a whole lot of positive images coming from Hollywood.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. PlayTheAces

    PlayTheAces Member

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    I don't know that I agree with this idea that there was support for banning handguns, or any guns, in the fifties. I'm not a pollster, but I was there, though just a kid.

    I remember that almost every father on our street was a WWII vet. And almost everyone of them had bring backs from the war, including my dad. The guy across the street was a former marine with a virtual arsenal. My scoutmaster used to let us use his .22s. No "gun ban" support from anyone I can remember knowing.

    I recall taking my dad's little muzzle loader to show and tell one day, and my teacher thought it was so neat, she asked if we could put it on display in the class during open house. We did, and everyone got a kick out of it.

    As a kid, we all had toy arsenals. I had toy pumps, rifles, six guns, even a burp gun. Miss that toy burp gun. We played "war" all summer, every summer. None of the moms minded, or even thought twice about it.

    I didn't live out in the country. I grew up in a Southern California suburb that was carved out of an orange grove after the war.

    Trust me, guns were not seen as evil back then. This "poll" seems to me like a weak attempt to impose current "sensibilities" on a time when gun ownership was just an accepted part of life. But like I said, I was just a kid back then.
     
  20. powder

    powder member

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    I place zero stock in polls.

    They have a scientific cover which is usually NEVER scientific at all, but skewed.
     
  21. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    +1

    I'm 68 years old and no pollster has ever ask me for my opinion on anything yet.

    I don't know who they do ask, but it must be a very select group somewhere else.

    rc
     
  22. CornCod

    CornCod Member

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    I have a theory. I think it may have been strictly urban dwellers that were inclined to support gun control. Folks in the country were favorably inclined toward guns because they meant meat on the table and pest control. Urbanites mainly saw them as tools of crime. I remember telling my father, West New York born and bred, that I was going to purchase my first rifle at age 18. He wasn't opposed, but the Korean era Navy vet was rather surprised and said "whatcha need a gun for kid?" Another element to consider is that folks had a lot less money and time for what was considered strictly recreational activity back then.
    Now my late father-in-law was a different matter. He was also Korean War Navy but he was an Arkansas hay farmer from way back. He loved talking and shooting guns. We would talk about them for hours and I would frequently hear earnest sermons on his great love for the .22 Magnum.
     
  23. Hatchett

    Hatchett Member

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    The 50s was a time when the idea of the government restricting something seemed A-OK and the idea of the government allowing many things (sex, drugs, rock and roll, protests, desegregation, homosexuality, you name it) was utterly terrifying for most people. Hell, McCarthy went around imprisoning people who were seen as a threat to the government and most people didn't mind at all. Today, decades and decades of people using things like gun control (or fear mongering against gun control) as springboards for political careers has completely changed attitudes. If a person proposed controlling guns somehow, it would have just sounded to most like an idea nobody had tried yet and there'd be nobody around to stand up and sound the alarm about attacks on our freedoms. If even a gun writer in the 50s said nobody needs a handgun, few would probably bat an eye. Today he'd be lynched in every way but literally.

    Handgun fetishism wasn't as big in America in the fifties either. There were maybe two major handgun manufacturers--Colt and S&W, and their best sellers were still plain old .38 revolvers for police officers. Ruger was still just an upstart company making single-actions to cash in on people's love of TV Westerns. Even the Browning Hi-Power had only just begun to be imported. Handgun shooting was a niche market at best even for people who bought guns. Today, you couldn't even name all the handgun makers in America alone, or even just the ones making the same 1911. In hindsight, it's glaringly obvious that attitudes have changed today.

    People like to think of the 50s as the good old days of gun ownership before all the gun control ruined it, but the truth is we are living in the best possible age to be a gun enthusiast if your desire really is to own the most deadly possible weapon, and to be sure you'll get to keep it, and to be able to carry it in public for that matter (unheard of in the 50s unless you had a badge, as I understand it.)
     
  24. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    I don't remember gun control even being an issue in the 50s. Nobody even THOUGHT of carrying, of course. It was illegal to even have a handgun in your car within easy reach in Texas until the 90s. Since I often drove a 4x4 standard cab truck on hunting trips with my contender pistol, I broke the law a lot. But, then, from the 70s on, I often carried a small .25 ACP illegally. Better judged by 12 than carried by 6 was the mantra. But, handgun ownership was low in the 50s. It just wasn't anyone's issue.
     
  25. marv

    marv Member

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    There wasn't much in the way of handgun control in the 50's. There wasn't much in the way of handguns either. Colt 1911's and revos and S&W revos were around $65; a week's wages if you had a heckuva good job. H&Rs and IJs were 30ish. Gun control didn't rear its lovely head 'till after the Kennedy killings. They were beginners an new at it but they got the job done. Much to our dismay.
     
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