On January 17th of 1989, 24-year-old Patrick Purdy returned to the Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California, he had once attended as a child. After parking his station wagon behind the school and setting the car afire with a gasoline-filled beer bottle, Purdy walked to the school playground with a (legally bought) version of an AK-47 assault rifle and, shooting from behind a portable building, sprayed the area with an estimated 106 rounds in the span of three minutes, killing five children and wounding thirty others before fatally shooting himself in the head with a pistol.
The horrors of the Stockton schoolyard shooting prompted renewed debate over restricting public access to weapons like the type Purdy had used at Cleveland Elementary School. On February 6th former president Ronald Reagan, then just a few weeks out of office, attended a 78th birthday celebration thrown for him at the University of Southern California, where he delivered a 22-minute address that touched on such topics as the federal deficit, the constitutional amendment limiting presidents to two terms, and the recent Cleveland School massacre.
In 1994 Reagan was a co-signatory (along with former presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter) to a letter urging the U.S. House of Representatives to support a ban on the domestic manufacture of “assault weapons” such as semi-automatic AK-47s:
To Members of the U.S. House of Representatives:
We are writing to urge your support for a ban on the domestic manufacture of military-style assault weapons. This is a matter of vital importance to the public safety. Although assualt weapons account for less than 1% of the guns in circulation, they account for nearly 10% of the guns traced to crime.
Every major law enforcement organization in America and dozens of leading labor, medical, religious, civil rights and civic groups support such a ban. Most importantly, poll after poll shows that the American public overwhelmingly support a ban on assault weapons. A 1993 CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll found that 77% of Americans support a ban on the manufacture, sale, and possession of semi-automatic assault guns, such as the AK-47.
The 1989 import ban resulted in an impressive 40% drop in imported assault weapons traced to crime between 1989 and 1991, but the killing continues. Last year, a killer armed with two TEC9s killed eight people at a San Francisco law firm and wounded several others. During the past five years, more than 40 law enforcement officers have been killed or wounded in the line of duty by an assault weapon.
While we recognize that assault weapon legislation will not stop all assault weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals. We urge you to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of these weapons.
Gerald R. Ford
The baby’s fingers had been broken during the shooting from his mother shielding him from the gun fire. The baby had been discharged but brought back to the hospital for the photo op by the baby’s uncle (pictured on the left).
Photo Source – First Lady Melania Trump’s Twitter account
From Business Insider:
Japan’s success in curbing gun deaths is intimately linked with its history. Following World War II, pacifism emerged as one of the dominant philosophies in the country. Police only started carrying firearms after American troops made them, in 1946, for the sake of security. It’s also written into Japanese law, as of 1958, that “no person shall possess a firearm or firearms or a sword or swords.”
If Japanese people want to own a gun, they must attend an all-day class, pass a written test, and achieve at least 95% accuracy during a shooting-range test. Then they have to pass a mental-health evaluation, which takes place at a hospital, and pass a background check, in which the government digs into their criminal record and interviews friends and family. They can only buy shotguns and air rifles — no handguns — and every three years they must retake the class and initial exam.
Japan has also embraced the idea that fewer guns in circulation will result in fewer deaths. Each prefecture — which ranges in size from half a million people to 12 million, in Tokyo — can operate a maximum of three gun shops; new magazines can only be purchased by trading in empty ones; and when gun owners die, their relatives must surrender the deceased member’s firearms.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
— The Second Amendment
Well Regulated Militia on Twitter (@Well_Regulated_)
“My wife has been killed by a machine which should never have come into the hands of any human being. It is called a firearm. It makes the blackest of all human wishes come true at once, at a distance: that something die.
There is evil for you.
We cannot get rid of mankind’s fleetingly wicked wishes. We can get rid of the machines that make them come true.
I give you a holy word: DISARM.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Deadeye Dick