A history of violence

Gear, stuff, supplies... The things that make encumbrance rules a serious consideration for your GM.
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Wireless
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A history of violence

Post by Wireless » Sun Oct 07, 2012 9:11 pm

While it's easy enough to find gun laws for various states in the modern day, I can't seem to find anything on Massachusetts gun laws in the 1920s. Is there an major difference, or have they stayed roughly the same for most of its history?

Keeper Jon
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Re: A history of violence

Post by Keeper Jon » Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:47 pm

Wireless wrote:While it's easy enough to find gun laws for various states in the modern day, I can't seem to find anything on Massachusetts gun laws in the 1920s. Is there an major difference, or have they stayed roughly the same for most of its history?
Pretty much the same. America of the 1920s was more concerned about outlawing booze, not guns. In general, weapons are not carried openly in public places, (like a bank), but it wouldn't be uncommon to see men in trucks with shotguns or rifles in a rear-window rack as the men, dressed for hunting, are headed for the woods.

Pistols are considered more offensive, in a way, because they are much easier to conceal.

It is my interpretation from old movies that the police are little more lenient with citizens who discharge a weapon within city limits as long as no one was hurt in the firing of the weapon. The cops might look for a bribe to not run the person in, but they were not quite so diligent to haul them to jail for the discharge of the gun.

Hope that helps.

Keeper Dan
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Re: A history of violence

Post by Keeper Dan » Sun Oct 07, 2012 11:37 pm

The only specific thing apart from what Jon mentioned I can think of is that full-auto was already illegal for a private citizen to have. I believe that sawed-off shotguns were made illegal in the early to mid 1920s as well.
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vladsee
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Re: A history of violence

Post by vladsee » Tue Oct 09, 2012 6:00 am

I was wondering about this myself ever since a player and I got into a friendly argument about gun laws in the 1920s. Here is the entry in the 1920s Investigator's Companion that could help you out.

Firearms and the Law
HANDGUNS, RIFLES, and shotguns are sold over
the counter in most parts of the U.S. without license
or registration. Restrictions are few and such
things as fully automatic weapons and sawed-off shotguns
are often perfectly legal.
During the 1920s the Federal Government did little
to regulate firearms other than in 1927 to prohibit the
shipping of handguns through the U.S. mail. Local communities,
however, passed their own laws. Discharging
a firearm within village or city limits without just cause is
usually prohibited. Other restrictions vary widely. In the
long-established Eastern states, particularly along the
coast, restrictions are greatest. Carrying a concealed
firearm is generally a felony. Laws are generally more
lax in rural areas where firearms conceivably serve a
more useful purpose, parts of the rural Midwest and
South generally more lenient than the East. In parts of
the West, private citizens and corporations accumulate
arsenals containing machine guns and other heavy
weapons. In Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico,
and other parts, carrying a holstered sidearm in public is
not at all uncommon.
Concealed firearms are generally closely regulated.
Most communities are willing to license certain individuals
to carry concealed weapons: usually professionals
(detective, bodyguard, etc.), or because the person routinely
moves valuables (banker, jeweler, shopkeeper). If
the applicant passes the check (usually requiring a clean
record—no felonies), a small fee is paid and the permit
issued. He is required to carry the permit whenever
carrying the weapon. The ease of obtaining a concealed
weapons permit depends on community standards.

Wireless
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Re: A history of violence

Post by Wireless » Tue Oct 09, 2012 9:44 pm

Oh excellent, thank you all very much. This should be very helpful.

Whitechapel Jack
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Re: A history of violence

Post by Whitechapel Jack » Sun Aug 04, 2013 11:03 pm

My grandfather once told me that it was common for men to carry a pocket pistol up until the 30's or 40's. While in some places he said it was illegal that it was rarely enforced. And he could remember as a kid seeing Tommyguns for sale at the hardware store of our small town.

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Re: A history of violence

Post by fox01313 » Fri Nov 29, 2013 7:22 pm

Very interesting to read all this as I was wondering about the question too when looking at the initial post. One thing that brought to mind too is how casually HPL & other authors wrote about characters having pistols (including young Wilbur). If the laws were more strict as they are now about getting a gun would mean that some characters would be taking different routes than shooting something or at least complaining some to the reader about the hassle of getting a gun.
"That's funny, usually the blood gets off on the second floor." -Mr. Burns in The Shinning episode (Treehouse of horror V)

HANS
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Re: A history of violence

Post by HANS » Wed Aug 13, 2014 7:39 am

Although late, I'd like to point to Investigator Weapons 1: The 1920s and 1930s, which has detailed information on the weapon laws in the USA and Massachusetts in particular (pp. 18-20).

Cheers

HANS

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