While thumbing through the book I happened upon an image that caused me to pause and reflect. It appears today that America is ramping up for yet another battle over gun control. After a decade of progress on gun rights issues, mainly at the state level, and one landmark Supreme Court decision (District of Columbia vs. Heller) the Democrats were in retreat, wisely choosing to do battle on other fronts. It also didn't help that their president had inadvertently turned out to be the biggest firearms salesman in the history of the United States. (I really think he deserves of some sort of industry award.) But with election season in full swing and a two term president unfettered by having to appear reasonable in order to get re-elected the Democrats are back at it. This time they have wind in their sails as their leader stumps around the country decrying violence and blaming the inanimate object rather than a rotten, poisonous culture that has laid waste to our cities and communities.
But like Yogi Berra once said, it's deja-vu all over again.
The image in the book that caught my eye is one of Franklin Delano Roosevelt taken just before WWI. Roosevelt served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy from 1913 - 1920 and during that period also served as chairman of the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice.
You read that right. The father of national-level gun control in the US (see the National Firearms Act of 1934) once served as the chairman of the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice.
The original National Firearms Act (NFA) proposal that FDR's administration put forward called for punitive taxation not just on machine guns and silencers but on all handguns, along with a national gun registry. The Democrat argument in 1934 was pretty much the same as it is today - in order to get a handle on gun violence we need to restrict and punish the law abiding. In the mid-1930's the nation was in the midst of a rising wave of organized crime violence brought on, in large part, by Prohibition. Just as today nobody in the Democrat party stopped to ask, "Hey, if criminals by their nature ignore laws why do we think they'll follow any gun control legislation we put in place?" Why ask when you know the answer and it doesn't really matter anyway. It's not about crime control, it's about gun control.
The provisions of the NFA were scaled back when Congress got it in their hands. In the end all it affected was fully automatic weapons, silencers and short barreled rifles and shotguns. But the key point is this - the Democrats under Roosevelt had no problem with gun control provisions that at the time were more restrictive than England's.
Roosevelt was a master political chameleon, appearing as everything to everybody. To voters during the Depression he could come across as your best friend, your wise uncle, a comforting neighbor or an understanding yet powerful leader who was going to make it all better. But at his core Roosevelt was just a scheming liberal hack who's only concern was moving the Democrat party political platforms forward.. I have no doubt that during the discussions over the NFA he trotted out his bonafides as the past chairman of the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice and said, "Gentlemen, I'm not against legal gun ownership, or hunting, or target shooting. Just look at my background. But we have to do something to get all this crime under control, and what we propose is reasonable and doesn't conflict with the Second Amendment."
Of course as part of the political elite the rules he wanted to force on the average citizen wouldn't apply to him or his fellow patricians. Evidence?
For me but not for thee. Think about it.