Jump to content

Default investigator handgun and creating murder hobos


Recommended Posts

A couple of years ago, another poster from Europe [who admitted he didn't know a lot about guns or gun laws] asked about America and Guns, specifically shotguns. This is my reply to him.

[snip]

 

OK, lifelong shooter, combat veteran, reenactor, and military historian here. I'm certainly not saying that my comments are the be-all and end-all on the subject. Just like with everything there's always someone who knows more, but I'm pretty confident of my knowledge.

I address this answer to the OP, who stated he didn't know much about guns or their history. I am also not going to engage in any Second Amendment discussions here. This is strictly history as it relates to a game with strong historical ties.

I. Firearms Culture in the US between the Wars.

America in the post War One era was a heavily armed society, more so than now. While there were fewer guns in private hands in actual numbers, more households owned guns per capita. These were by and large pistols and hunting rifles, but it wasn't until the first Federal Firearms Act of 1934 that actually banned automatic weapons! It was perfectly legal to own  a Thompson submachine gun or a Browning Automatic Rifle, for example, and most sales came with a complimentary box of ammo. HOWEVER[!] please note that even the most laid back sheriff's deputy or G-Man is going look very askance at the private ownership of a Maxim gun [a tripod mounted, belt-fed heavy MG] 😁 It was not uncommon to see gun ads in everything from Colliers Magazine and Saturday Evening Post to the local newspaper. While the Old West had pretty much faded in the national consciousness, the veterans of the Spanish American War /Philippines Insurrection were still prevalent and many men came home from the Western Front as hardened and damaged as any gunfighter or survivor of Gettysburg ever was. Gun safety was widely taught in the majority of the country, with some schools even having gun safety courses in Physical Education and guns were nearly de rigeur in Boys Scouts, which was growing in popularity. Hunting was not only a pastime but a family tradition and often a subsistence skill. Famous personalities as different as Charles Lindburgh, Alvin York and Audie Murphy a generation later hunted to eat, not for sport. This was the era of a certain 'muscular Christian manhood', as Kipling put it. A 'proper' man had an outdoors streak that naturally included firearms, although just like with the Old West that was more a myth than a fact.

Prohibition did effect all this, of course. Gangsters with guns were making inroads into the American consciousness and the beginnings of gun regulation were everywhere during the Volstead Act era. However, other than in the major urban areas very little actual confiscation was done.

II. Game Facts:

CoC has always been a little bit leery of unlicensed heavily armed independent monster hunters in service to society [nod to GhostBusters there], and the fact is that a significant percentage of Mythos beings will shake off a burst from a Lewis Gun and laugh at you. Of the weapons that do effect Mythos creatures, the 12 gauge shotgun is favored because it does a whole bunch of damage for one attack roll. Furthermore, the ammunition is cheap and available pretty much everywhere. In the Twenties you could go to the average county store and buy boxes of .22, .45, .30 cal., 30-06, and the various shotgun gauges for the asking. Even teenagers were allowed to buy ammo. Note that this would not be the case in a major metropolitan area with organized crime problems... New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco predominantly. These dense urban areas were already beginning to regulate firearms as early as 1910.

So, shotguns specifically. By far the most common shotgun would be the double-barreled shotgun for bird hunting. It was not illegal to cut one down, but if you were accused of a crime and caught with a sawed-off shotgun, you were almost instantly presumed to be a criminal. Pump action shotguns were in the common-to-uncommon range. Many poorer families were suspicious of mechanical things and felt that a pump- or semi-auto shotgun was just another machine to break down and cost money to fix. Semi-auto shotguns were the most rare. The first semi- shotgun, the Browning Auto-5, was only 20 years old in 1925 and still seen as a rich man's toy. As a hunting implement it was seen as unsporting. Even Teddy Roosevelt said so! However pump actions had wide acceptance, and the Winchester Model 1897 went to war with the AEF with a bayonet lug on the muzzle!

Edited by svensson
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, EricW said:

If there was a major outbreak of criminality someone would have rung the church bell out sounded an electric fire siren (invented in 1869). Local police and citizens militia would respond in minutes.

Remember 1920s was only 55 years after the end of the US civil war, plenty of expert military experienced survivors had personal memories of having to defend their town and homes from raiders. Anyone who thinks someone in their seventies is too old to pick up a gun never saw my grandpa shoot. 

The response time would be less than today. And nobody would care if some dodgy strangers ended up dead.

The Civil War? Phhht! The Great War consumed an entire generation of young men just EIGHTEEN MONTHS before 1920, destroying the sanity and hardening the hearts of men all over the world, not just the US. By 1920, the Civil War and to some extent the Indian Wars were just a warm fuzzy glow in the American memory, talked about over brandies in rocking chairs while old men told lies to their grandchildren. Meanwhile said grandson's older brother, who'd been at the Somme, thank you very much, knew precisely what a line of bullshit grandpa was feeding young Bertie.

Let's put the Great War in context, shall we?

It was the first industrialized war. Sure the Crimea, the US Civil War, and the Boer Wars were the harbingers, but War One was a war purposely designed to murder every male between the ages of 15 and 50 in entire cities in just one afternoon's work. NOBODY came out of the trenches of that conflict with their innocence or idealism intact.

Now, the data is very muddled on this next point, but it is estimated that the murder rate in the US was over 100% greater per capita in between 1920-1930 than it was between 1870-1880, at the height of the cattle drives and 'gunfighter era' of US history. As I say, that is only a 'guess-timate' because of several factors: the reliability of news reporting was greater in the 20s than the 70s, for example. Crime statistics were only just starting to be kept scientifically by both Scotland Yard and the US FBI in the 20s. But the level of violence in society was noted and commented on at all levels of society all around the Western world. Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Russia all commented that they lived in more violent era than previously for various reasons, so this isn't just a US phenomenon.

My point here is that the decades immediately following War One were ones where violence was the one of the top three means solve inter-personal problems. It's the era of gangsters, IRA bombers, anarchists and Bolsheviks trying to bring down governments, etc. and so on.

Some might see my comments here as disrespectful to veterans or those suffering with mental health issues. They are not. They are my observations based on my own life experience as a combat veteran with PTSD and other mental health diagnoses. I took a 'long walk in the woods' in Central and South America in the mid-80s, the Reagan era of US 'gunboat diplomacy', so I've had over three decades to come to terms with my experiences. Furthermore, I live near a major cluster of US military bases of all services and a retirement region for many veterans. My comments here aren't criticisms, but rather observations. There are a lot of men between 25-45 years of age in my area who are 'wound up a little tight'.

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, svensson said:

Some might see my comments here as disrespectful to veterans or those suffering with mental health issues. 

I don't get this from your posts. But I also think it noteworthy that neither veteran experiences nor PTSD are monoliths. So, I will always respect your perspective as a person who fits both of those categories. But I will always also listen to a full breadth of opinions and data on both of those. I appreciate your perspective of having a realistic view of history. History is initially often written by the people in power, or the ones who "win" conflicts.

Edited by klecser
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, svensson said:

Now, the data is very muddled on this next point, but it is estimated that the murder rate in the US was over 100% greater per capita in between 1920-1930 than it was between 1870-1880, at the height of the cattle drives and 'gunfighter era' of US history. As I say, that is only a 'guess-timate' because of several factors: the reliability of news reporting was greater in the 20s than the 70s, for example. Crime statistics were only just starting to be kept scientifically by both Scotland Yard and the US FBI in the 20s. But the level of violence in society was noted and commented on at all levels of society all around the Western world. Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Russia all commented that they lived in more violent era than previously for various reasons, so this isn't just a US phenomenon.

I will also point out--not to undermine your point, but as a counterpoint to soften it--there is a documented perception of increased crime counter to underlying crime statistics that is often driven by improved communication, technology, and media coverage. I have not done my homework on changes between the 1870s and 1920s, but I have seen studies showing this change in perception with the dawn of the television, then the dawn of the internet and social media. It wouldn't surprise me to learn some (not all) of the increased perception of violence in society was actually driven by improved news communication, not just changes in the true underlying statistics.

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, Joe Kenobi said:

I will also point out--not to undermine your point, but as a counterpoint to soften it--there is a documented perception of increased crime counter to underlying crime statistics that is often driven by improved communication, technology, and media coverage. I have not done my homework on changes between the 1870s and 1920s, but I have seen studies showing this change in perception with the dawn of the television, then the dawn of the internet and social media. It wouldn't surprise me to learn some (not all) of the increased perception of violence in society was actually driven by improved news communication, not just changes in the true underlying statistics.

The perception of increased crime because of media information is just what I was getting at. The US is currently experience low-to-moderate crime rates across the board, but you wouldn't be able to tell that from the news or internet.

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, klecser said:

I don't get this from your posts. But I also think it noteworthy that neither veteran experiences nor PTSD are monoliths. So, I will always respect your perspective as a person who fits both of those categories. But I will always also listen to a full breadth of opinions and data on both of those. I appreciate your perspective of having a realistic view of history. History is initially often written by the people in power, or the ones who "win" conflicts.

My perspective as a historian is has always been a realistic one. I don't subscribe to the myths or legends of the narrative, instead looking towards the actual statistics bolstered by first-person accounts. History may be written by the victors, but we now have more tools than ever to attain a more realistic and accurate picture, especially those events in the radio /film age.

But something I should also point out here... history may be written by the victors but it's made by people. Those people leave survivors and those survivors write their own narratives completely separate from the winner's perspective. You can get an awful lot of good balancing information by reading the testimony of the losers. I did a college paper once on 'The Mythology of Defeat' and the Jacobite 'King Over The Water', the Confederate 'Lost Cause' and the German 'Dolschstosslegende' featured prominently.

Edited by svensson
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Joe Kenobi said:

I will also point out--not to undermine your point, but as a counterpoint to soften it--there is a documented perception of increased crime counter to underlying crime statistics that is often driven by improved communication, technology, and media coverage. I have not done my homework on changes between the 1870s and 1920s, but I have seen studies showing this change in perception with the dawn of the television, then the dawn of the internet and social media. It wouldn't surprise me to learn some (not all) of the increased perception of violence in society was actually driven by improved news communication, not just changes in the true underlying statistics.

Excellent point Joe. The classic example of this is in the medical field. Increasing our detection methods for disease finds more instances of disease, but it isn't evidence that disease is spreading in the population more. Likewise, humans not knowing how to recognize a mental health challenge in the past doesn't mean that when we recognize more of it now that it just didn't exist in the past. PTSD is an example. It was called "shell shock" in WW1. And people maybe didn't explicitly identify it as a consequence of war at all in the distant past. But that doesn't mean a human empathetic response to seeing death didn't affect them in the past.

13 hours ago, svensson said:

But something I should also point out here... history may be written by the victors but it's made by people. Those people leave survivors and those survivors write their own narratives completely separate from the winner's perspective. You can get an awful lot of good balancing information by reading the testimony of the losers. I did a college paper once on 'The Mythology of Defeat' and the Jacobite 'King Over The Water', the Confederate 'Lost Cause' and the German 'Dolschstosslegende' featured prominently.

Absolutely. I didn't mean to imply that the "losers" just disappear. The Germans have done a spectacular job of leading a mutual societal response to Nazism post WW2 within their own country. They are the ones who vowed to actively try to not let it arise in their space again. It wasn't the occupying forces who did that. In the modern age, with increases in communication and much more free press, it has become much harder for the "winners" to suppress the voices of the "losers."

I think this discussion has been central to what level of realism people want to portray in Call of Cthulhu!

Edited by klecser
  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

As an aside, I have a digitized copy of Francis Bannerman's 1903 catalog, and one of the items listed for sale to anyone who'd buy them was a half-dozen Gatling guns "shooting the standard government center fire cartridge" (which would be .50-70 in this case). There were also a pair of 100-pdr Parrott rifles from the Civil War for $1250 each, with shot and shell available at $6 per round. The early 1900s were wild with surplus arms.

 

With regards to double-barrels being more common than pump shotguns, my impression is a lot of that was cost. The 1922 Sears catalog had double-barrel 12-gauge shotguns at price from $18.90 to $46.00 (with the high-end being A.H. Fox and L.C. Smith). A Winchester 1897 was $42.50, a Remington 10A was $60.92, a Remington 11A was $75.50 to $86.83 depending on options, and a Stevens 520 was $47.50. Single-barrels were even cheaper than doubles, at $8.45 to $11.40 for a 12-gauge, but didn't have the quick follow-up shot.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...