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Unregulated guns: A 100-year-old issue

Written by Mila Sanina on .

This week’s riveting story of Antoinette Tuff, the bookkeeper at Ronald McNair Discovery Learning Center in Decatur, Ga., who talked shooter Michael Brandon Hill into surrendering to police, captivated the social web. People praised her courage and disarming empathy, literally disarming.

With every new shooting, a mass shooting or a homicide, we are and will always be hoping for an Antoinette Tuff to save the day and save lives.

But the story of Ms. Tuff is an exception rather than a predictable happy end. The predictable part here is a scenario: a gun or two that were easy to obtain, mental illness, criminality and lives lost for nothing.

Fifty-eight homicides have been documented in Allegheny County this year.

And after every mass shooting, every gun-related homicide together with tragic desperation and deep sadness there is a ray of hope that the moment has come. That it’s time. That Americans cannot afford witnessing another loss of life to senseless crime. That guns need to be regulated. That Japan with a population a hundred times greater than Allegheny County averages 10 gun-related homicides per year, that it only makes sense to examine what they're doing in terms of gun control

But nothing changes: NRA is as powerful as it has been; gun regulation gets stalled and in spite of the calls for action from the president and vice president, the U.S. is where it was before the Newtown shooting last December.

A while ago one of our readers found this article in the August 5, 1922 issue of "The Index of Pittsburgh Life," which was a weekly publication about the events in Pittsburgh.  This article expresses concern about gun violence at the time, how easy it was for anybody to get his or her hands on a weapon, and how this was leading to turmoil in our city, state, and nation.  It’s amazing that this article was written  almost 100 years ago, and today it seems we have made no progress.  

Here is an excerpt:   "There is one thing about the present acute industrial situation which demands state, if not national consideration.  That is the freedom with which Americans, aliens and any sort of human being, young as well as old, can become possessed of the most modern and dangerous firearms.  It is a plain invitation to violence.  That is what usually happens when ignorant Americans and foreigners become angry at each other.  A strike is launched and every mother’s son of the strikers arms himself for any emergency.  There is Sunday drinking of moonshine and the Monday morning newspaper is a gory recital of crimes and shooting.  Revolvers have become too common.  They can be purchased by any one at almost any hardware store without any questions being asked.  A lad in Sewickley was recently killed accidentally with an automatic pistol borrowed by his chum from another boy.  Police have picked up youngsters of not more than nine years with the most dangerous of weapons in their possession.  Revolvers as common as sticks and then we wonder at crime.  No attention is paid to the law forbidding the carrying of concealed weapons.  Look over the collection in almost every police station or district attorney’s office.  Weapons are too easy to procure.  They fall into the hands of too may persons mentally and morally unfit to use them with discretion.  With so much turmoil going on it is a crime to permit the indiscriminate distribution of firearms.  Every one sold should be registered with the police and every person possessing one should be investigated as to his fitness to retain a weapon.  In Great Britain they have a license fee and strict registration.  If there was a closer observance of methods of distribution there would be less crime.  This is a matter that should be given attention now in view of some of the trouble that has been and is expected."

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