On Saturday, Scott Johnson posted an article at Power Line Blog quoting a recent column by Stephen Hunter:
Possibly you’re old enough to remember the great massacre spree of 1964? Classrooms shot up, strip malls decimated, scout troops blown away, fast food restaurants turned into mortuaries.
And all because, in its infinite stupidity, the U.S. government dumped 240,000 high-capacity .30 caliber assault rifles into an otherwise innocent America.
The weapons clearly had a demon-spirit to them. Compared to anything else in the market, they had that murder-most-easy look. One glance at the sinister gleam of the walnut stock which caressed the military-gray receiver and barrel of the weapon, its magazine wickedly boasting of many cartridges ready and waiting, its photo- and Hollywood associations with war, and some went screwball. They had the overwhelming desire to use it as it was meant to be used. It was not powerful enough for deer and not accurate enough for vermin. It existed only to kill human beings.
Except there was no massacre spree of 1964, despite the fact that in 1963 the United States Army surplussed 240,000 M1 carbines via the NRA. They were available through the mail at $20. Not an NRA member? Eighty bucks, then, from any sporting goods store. Denver’s Dave Cook’s–“Guns Galore at Prices to Score”– had them by mail order, magazine and sling included, postage, $1.25.
What did happen next was remarkable. It was also simple: nothing. Firearms deaths in 1964 rose modestly, in accord with statistical norms. No spurt of slaughter can be documented, much less attributed, to the sudden presence of all these weapons of war.
The article concludes:
It was clearly our first assault rifle; its appearance is meaningless. The cartridge was as powerful as the iconic .357 magnum. It held either 15 or 30 rounds, depending on the magazine. It could be fired as quickly as the trigger was pulled — 30 shots in 10 seconds sounds about right– and reloaded in two or three seconds. It never jammed. It was light and handy with minimal recoil. Certain iterations had folding stocks, reducing the 35-inch length by a third, making concealment easy. Some had full-auto capacity. All had bayonet studs. It could do anything an AR-15 can do except kill groundhogs at 400 yards or penetrate a car door at 20. Either Peyton Gendron or Salvador Ramos could have employed it to the same results.
So in 1964, the guns were there — lots of them, everywhere, dirt cheap. But Gendron and Ramos were not. We must look elsewhere for the reason why.
It is time to look at some of the cultural influences at work today–violent movies, violent television shows, and violent video games. We should also examine the impact of the destruction of the American family due to government welfare policies.