The “Lost History” of Firearms Control
(Created circa Fall 2015)
(Updated 1 June 2016)

The main intent of this page is not to do an exhaustive recital of all the known arguments/for/against firearms control; but rather to highlight “forgotten” items and memoranda over the decades that were ‘big’ for their day, but soon forgotten.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that the ‘lifecycle’ of the Firearms debate is remarkably short. Ideas keep getting recycled every few decades, as there’s very little ‘corporate’ memory within the debate.

For example, not many people even know that the original draft of the National Firearms Act of 1934 defined a machine gun as:

The term "machine gun" means any weapon designed to shoot automatically or semiautomatically twelve or more shots without reloading.”

Additionally, pistols and revolvers were to be subject to the same “Class III” regulations as short barreled weapons and suppressors – 100% fingerprinting, photographing and registration of transferees – with the transfer tax on handguns being $1 and the dealer fee to traffic in them being $200/year.

Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ online calculator for inflation (1934 to 2014), this translates to a transfer tax of $17.67 per handgun sold and $3,533.37 per ‘machine gun’ transferred; on top of a dealer fee of $3,533.37 yearly.

The National Rifle Association (yes, that NRA) defeated the 12-round limit for semi-automatics and handgun classification as Class III weapons; leading to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Assistant Attorney General, one Mr. Joseph B. Keenan declaring to the General Federation of Women’s Clubs in Hot Springs, Arkansas that:

“the National Rifle Association had proved more powerful than the Department of Justice.”
[The Literary Digest, June 16, 1934]

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

1934 – National Firearms Act (NFA)

Hearings before the Committee on Ways and Means, House of Representatives, 73rd Congress, 2d session on H.R. 9066 – April 16, 18 and May 14, 15 and 16, 1934. (10~ MB PDF) – This has the original first draft of the NFA, as well as a lot of interpretative detail, such as a brief summary of British Firearms Laws circa 1934 which was inserted into the Congressional Record.

United States v. Miller, 1934 (468~ kb PDF) – The Supreme Court case resulting from the NFA.

The Literary Digest, 16 June 1934; Page 19: “Club-Women Mapping War on Gangsters: Federation at Odds With Rifle Association After Ban on Pistols Is Deleted From Firearm Sale Regulation Bill” (1.2~ MB PDF) – A period article in which FDR's Assistant Attorney General is mentioned as declaring that the NRA is more powerful than DOJ.

1967 – National Firearms Control: Brief Summary of Existing and Proposed Legislation (357 kb PDF)

This rather slim document details the state of firearms laws on the Federal level circa 1967; and what was being proposed around then.

1999 – A FAREWELL TO ARMS: The Solution to Gun Violence in America (729 kb PDF)

This 63-page planning paper was authored and published on the orders of J. Joseph Curran in 1999. For those not familiar with Maryland history, Curran was Maryland's Attorney General from 1987-2007 before he retired. The report was available for a long time on the Maryland State AG's website, before being eventually taken down. This planning paper pretty much has everything that’s been proposed over the years to stop “gun violence” from intensive background checks to suing the manufacturers and dealers into oblivion.

It was retrieved through the Internet Archive, through the following link:


Which is a 1 October 2002 trawl; with the following blurb:

Disarming Gun Traffickers
Attorney General Curran's initiative to crackdown on gun trafficking and illegal purchases of handguns, Operation Crime Gun, has resulted in dozens of prosecutions in the short time since its inception. In October 1999, Curran issued, A Farewell to Arms, which studied the health epidemic created by the terrific number of guns in the United States. Curran created the report to create a public discussion about the issue of gun safety, and to gradually change the public's attitudes regarding the proliferation of guns in our society.
Download a PDF copy of A Farewell to Arms (728 KB, 65 pages).”