High School massacre and increased War time gun crime?

Discussion in 'Home Fronts' started by redtop, Feb 18, 2018.

  1. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    The High school and other American massacres are blamed in part on the availability of weapons in USA.
    I seem to remember in early years of WW2 my father bringing his rifle home when on leave,.may be in case of call out for invasion at that time .
    If personal weapons were taken home would automatics and handguns been inclusive?
    Did this practice continue through out war years and if so did they carry ammunition?
    With weapons so easily obtained was there any increase in gun crime and were there any examples of mass killings at home in UK or in USA ? (leaving out massacres of civilians by troops in war zones)
     
  2. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    There may be stats somewhere in this linked thread
    Murders during the war
    There are some newspaper clippings about murders, some of which detail which weapons were used.
     
  3. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer Pearl Harbor Myth Buster

    There are ~243,000,000 privately owned guns in the US right now. Three percent of the US population owns one half of those guns. They're better armed (with regard to individual weapons) than most of the belligerents in WWII.
     
  4. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    The subject of my book took two semi-automatics handguns off of German officers while in Normandy. He carried them throughout the next 11 months of combat. He subsequently brought them home after the war and kept them through the years. He still had them when he died in 2015. My grandfather brought home a Type 99 rifle from Japan after the war. I still have it and it is in firing condition, although I would never do so.

    You mentioned automatics in your comment. Automatic weapon ownership is tightly controlled in the US and few private citizens own them legally. Contrary to their appearance, the military-looking rifles that are receiving such scrutiny are not automatic weapons. I own one, as do a large number of my friends and family.

    Now, it seems to be ignored that our government, during the reign of 44 (that lop-eared bastard), scattered automatic rifles all over Mexico in a Machiavellian scheme, trying to make it look like they came from law-abiding citizens back in the US.
     
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  5. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Even statistics from past eras dealing with firearms, firearms ownership, and crime are enormously controversial here. I am trying to get some reliable information about the postwar era (1945-1963), and it isn't easy. As far as I can tell the US entered a period of lower crime and murder rates sometime in the 1930s, a trend which continued for some 25 years. Overall crime and murder rates circa 1950 seem to have been about what they are now, in other words not too bad by historic American standards. Sales and imports of firearms and ammunition in this country hit a peak between 1945 and 1949. I don't know why that was, but I could guess. Few new weapons had appeared on the market since 1941, and many users no doubt wanted to replace their old pieces. Many men who had served in the armed forces had become familiar with weapons that way and they wanted guns of their own. The armed forces, foreign governments, manufacturers, and surplus dealers and importers were unloading wartime stock which was no longer needed, and of course the established companies were getting back into civilian production and scrambling to meet demand. However, sales swiftly leveled off after 1949 as the market found a lower level. I have not looked at arms and ammo prices over the era thoroughly yet. What all this means in terms of crime rates and gun homicide rates during the given period I don't know yet. I have read, though, that police use of firearms was much more common in the 1950s than it is now and it seems to have attracted less attention. As for postwar mass shootings, I do believe that there were a couple of notorious cases of shell-shocked veterans flipping out after they came back from the war but the phenomenon doesn't seem to have become more common until well into the 1960s. That was an era of rapidly rising crime of all sorts, including gun homicide, so that would fit. The first case of this type I think most people and the nation were really aware of was Charles Whitman in 1966. He was a veteran and severely disturbed, but he had not served in combat.
     
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  6. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    If this turns into people arguing about gun control in the US, it gets closed.
    The interesting thing, despite the thought apparently being inspired by recent events, is how bring-back weapons showed up in civil life from the WW2 period.

    Hair trigger on the automatics there, Jeff.
    I personally couldn't give a tinker's cuss what current law is, or about AR15s or assault rifles (other than Sturmgewehrs, SVTs etc.) It's banged on about in every corner of the web, but I do find what was allowed at home in the WW2 period quite interesting.
    I seem to recall Gun Jesus Forgotten Weapons saying that it was only really the 1968 Act onwards and it's associated Machine-gun Amnesty that began controlling more 'interesting' weapons? He certainly gives the impression that was when restrictions bit more realistically than they had before. Couple of interviews on there with an old collector chap who implied anything up to mortars was fair game.

    (Redtop, I'll possibly edit out the 'High School Massacre' part of the title here, as it's only going to cause chat that's nothing to do with WW2. It's some sort of immutable law of the internet.)

    My Grandad is reputed to have thrown a bring-back MP40 & a few other bits and pieces over a bridge shortly post-war, but that's a UK Army officer. I see a lot of stuff on the auction sites that seems to have a WW2--veteran-family provenance, from SMGs to heavier pieces, with not much to imply it's a particularly uncommon source.
     
  7. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    I don't think the ongoing mass shootings and gun violence in U.S. will end in my lifetime. The mass shootings receive inordinate amounts of press coverage but, in fact, represent a tiny fraction of overall gun deaths.
    There are over 270 million firearms in public ownership now and that genie isn't going back in the bottle anytime soon. Even widespread national protests by gun control advocates would likely be met by equally passionate 2nd Amendment defenders. Based on household ownership, it's close to a 50/50 split. Like race relations, it is a highly divisive issue which politicians and courts are reluctant to touch.
    The numbers are truly staggering however. 1.4 million people have been killed using firearms in the U.S. between 1968 and 2011. Most of those are suicides. I certainly don't see a way out of the pattern for our American cousins. Sadly!
    I know many 2nd Amendment supporters describe the right to "defend themselves against tyranny" but I have recently thought there is irony in that statement as the rate of gun deaths has become a form of tyranny in itself. A difficult dilemma.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2018
  8. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    I am anxious to stay away from the current catastrophe as well, Von P. I mentioned the postwar 45-49 spike in sales and imports here in the US as an indicator of where the firearms market was going at that time. I have no idea how much of that increase was accounted for by bring backs. My feeling would be 'probably not too much.' I have not seen any statistics. Anecdotal evidence I have heard on this board and elsewhere suggests that bring backs were almost certainly more common in the US than in the UK, but I have also heard that the US armed forces, like the British, did try to slow the flow some by searching barracks bags of returning servicemen and so on.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2018
  9. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    You stayed on track, TTH. All good.

    Say again.
    If this goes on with modern second amendment stuff, it dies.

    In fact, it doesn't die. never used thread bans before. lets try that. ;)
    Next one to make a modern political point rather than a postwar/historical/ww2 weapons point gets thread-banned for a week. If I can work out how to do it. :unsure:
     
  10. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    If there HAD been an enormous flow of bring backs into this country in '45-46, then why would there have been a rise in domestic firearms sales and recorded commercial imports as well? Mind you, I did see a photo of a display by the New York police of firearms in the early to mid 1950s taken from youth gangs and a lot of them seemed to be foreign-made automatic pistols. My own guess is that most of those would have been surplus pieces imported postwar, which were going cheap at the time and hence probably easier for delinquents to get hold of than newer domestic guns
     
  11. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    Your forum, your rules. I'll not mention that contemptable SOB again.

    Hard to say, TTH. My grandfather made pocket money the winter of 1945-46 in Tokyo breaking up large crates and building rifle-sized crates for other soldiers to ship weapons home. He never told me how many he made, but he said he made a good bit of change with his endeavor and they had stacks and stacks of Japanese hardware they "disposed" of. I live in the Southeastern US, where gun ownership is high. I knew a great number of former servicemen (in the 1970s and 80s) who owned previously government-issued firearms, but do not know where they obtained them. Didn't ask.

    I understand that there are a large number of M1 Carbines (M2 being an automatic weapon) scattered about and I see a large number at gun shows. I have suspicions that many of these are weapons are sold out of estates left by veterans, who like Mr. Sanford from my book, liked the weapon so much, they purchased one after the got home through the Civilian Marksmanship Program. My brother-in-law says he remembers them being as cheap as $20-25 in the 1950s and 60s,which, to a poor country boy, was still a lot of money for something at the time was not thought would rise in price since it was "government surplus."
     
  12. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Gunner Tours

    Crime certainly increased in Britian in WW2. One of the infamopus post war gangsters "Mad Frankie Fraser" claimed that WW2 was a great time to be a crook. Air raids were a great time to rob houses. There were some mass murders but, mostly these were by the Germans. There was an increase in the domestic murder rate. But these were British style stranglers and lady killers. - Haigh the acid bath murderer and John Christie were both active. One British soldier killed on 6th June was a mass murderer. He was a deserter who roamed southern Britain dressed as a glider pilot/ commando para impressing and then killing female victims. His death on 6th June and name on the Brookwood memorial is a co-incidence. That was the date of his execution.

    Lots of people had weapons at home. There were 1.6 million men in the Home Guard, and IIRC they kept their small arms at home. My grandmother claimed that her husband would sit on a box of grenades in the air raid shelter.

    There were some incidents involving small arms. Most of these seem to have involved members of the armed forces. There were one or race related fights between black and white US servicemen. There could have been more. Leonard Cheshire VC the idiosyncratic commander of 617 Squadron became convinced in May 1944 that the Germans would launch a commando raid on their airfield and has small arms issued to his air crew. Nor just revolvers, but sten guns. The result was drunken airmen taking pot shots at people returning from the pub. Lots of field craft learned stalking the mess to get back to their room.


    I can't find any evidence of increased gun crime in the USA during WW2. Random mass shootings may be a product of post war US culture. There were mass murders in the USA pre WW2 - but associated with mobsters, bank robbers and ranch wars. The earliest killing spree recorded was Unruh who killed 13 in Camden NJ in 1949 - with a Luger 08 in 1949. (Mass shootings in the United States - Wikipedia)
     
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  13. CTNana

    CTNana Member Patron

    Apologies for the daft question but was every single soldier issued with a weapon, even those in service regiments unlikely ever to meet the enemy?
     
  14. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Gunner Tours

    In WW1 artillery and service units were not issued rifles. However, this led to embarrassing moments if the Germans managed to penetrate the front line.

    During WW2 when there were often no rigid front lines, there was a threat that some enemy column might pitch up at the supply depots or amongst the guns. Even in Britain there was the threat of parachutists or commando type raiders. As a matter of course in British troops were issued a personal weapon - apart from the period after Dunkirk when there was a shortage of small arms. When
     
  15. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    [QUOTE="Sheldrake, post:

    There could have been more. Leonard Cheshire VC the idiosyncratic commander of 617 Squadron became convinced in May 1944 that the Germans would launch a commando raid on their airfield and has small arms issued to his air crew. Nor just revolvers, but sten guns. The result was drunken airmen taking pot shots at people returning from the pub. Lots of field craft learned stalking the mess to get back to their room.

    Does this submission have a valid source.

    RAF Airfield defence was provided by the RAF Regiment after it was formed, plus airfield AA units as appropriate.

    In May 1944,No 617 Squadron was based at Woodhall Spa.The domestic site was at Thorpe across the road from the airfield.However the Officers Mess was 3 miles away across the other side of Woodhall at the Petwood Hotel. Therefore two locations would have to be covered and I would think that the decision to issue weapons such as stens would have been recorded in the Woodhall station and No 617 Squadron ORBs.

    Further any incidents such as personal weapons being used without authority would have been covered by disciplinary action and would have been recorded officially.I would have thought that such an incident would have been reported in the local press.

    Later in the war some RAF B.C squadron aircrew did elect to carry small arms on raids but as i see it was the exception rather than the rule.

    Postwar squadron groundcrew had their own rifle secured in a locked room in the vicinity of the billet
     
  16. CTNana

    CTNana Member Patron

    Thanks Sheldrake.
    Just popular myth that we were better behaved then?
    How did the bad guys avoid being called up?
    Was robbery during air raids considered looting and if so did it carry a more severe punishment?
    Are your statistics based upon actual population figures, i.e. is the situation even worse when considering the number of men abroad?
     
  17. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    I just checked Linderman, Don't You Know There's a War On, and while he does not give figures he does say that overall crime actually went down a bit in the States during the war, which continued the prewar trend I mentioned above. Certain kinds of crime, however, went way, way up. With people having so much to spend gambling increased tremendously and there was also a very large black market. Gambling and the big-time black market were both run by the American Mob. Law enforcement had been hitting the Mob hard from the mid 30s on, but the government's attention went elsewhere after Pearl Harbor and the war was a kind of second golden age for American gangsters (the first being Prohibition). Prostitution positively exploded, as it often does during wartime, and the queer and lesbian bar business boomed too. With so many adults away at work or in the armed forces, many children and adolescents were under-supervised and slipped into crime, which seems to parallel British developments. Americans like to regard the 1950s as the classic age of large-scale juvenile delinquency but the problem really began during the war and simply persisted into the postwar years. Linderman does not mention firearms crime at all. At its peak in the 40s and 50s the American Mob used violence almost solely to maintain discipline within its own ranks, and the era of big gang wars had ended in the early 30s with the consolidation of the nationwide crime syndicate. Even after the war, when firearms became more readily available to civilians again, youth gangs often found them hard to obtain and were instead forced to rely on home-made 'zip guns' plus knives, bats, etc.

    Yes, the Unruh case was the one I was thinking of in a previous post. Also, if my dim memory serves there may have been a way for US servicemen to bring back a trophy weapon (or just one?) if a superior officer signed some kind of certificate authorizing them to do so. I think I may have seen a copy of such a form, too, but I can't find either the image or the reference now. The whole subject of WWII bring backs deserves lots of research and a book, but I don't think either has happened yet.
     
  18. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Many of them were called up, presumably those who weren't actually in the can. In the course of the research for my book I found many references to criminals in the ranks of the 50th and 9th Australian divisions, including some with serious records. There's a sentimental "dirty dozen" myth that tough street guys are naturally good fighters and can make good soldiers. This is largely nonsense. These characters were the bane of their units and never did a lick of work or fighting if they could help it. In his book on British military psychiatry Ahrenfeldt comments that the army had a lot of trouble disciplining the young Borstal-type delinquents swept into the conscription net later in the war. They were occasionally able to make something of the younger ones, but the old lags and real villains were absolutely incorrigible.
     
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  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I parked a Land Rover outside my house with twenty military automatic assault rifles in it once. I also sent a AK 47 back to the UK from Iraq which I think is currently in my garage somewhere, Its de-activated now before anyone calls the cops. My point being if its pretty much done today-ish, it was probably done in far greater numbers back then.
     
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  20. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Lorne Barlett was a WW2 sniper with The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry.

    "We were out on this mission this one day, Ken and I, and we noticed a couple of these soldiers running ahead of us in open ground and I said to Ken, we’ll get this fellow here. So the Germans come around behind a tree and I got my sights and I got him, dead, dead shot. So the other one got the hell out of there in a hurry so Ken and I moved over to see about this German, see if he was dead or alive or whatnot. He was dead alright but he’d dropped his German Schmeisser machine gun, which is a very fast firing machine gun, handgun, and I said to Ken, you know, I think we’ll take this home, back to the company headquarters and see what to do with it.
    So I took it back and talked to the company sergeant major and I said, I’d like to send this back to my dad because you could just mail it in three parts almost. So he helped me dismantle it and put it in a box and mail it back to Canada. My dad got it just two days before Christmas, that complete Schmeisser machine gun. My son’s still got it."
     
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