Age of Prohibition: Reasons why Banning Guns are not the Answer


In the 1820’s an age of religious revivalism swept the United States. Though this helped increase support for slavery to be banned, it also increased support for alcohol to be banned. Alcohol was seen as the reason for ruining families. Massachusetts banned the sale of alcohol in less than 15-gallon quantities in 1838; though it was repealed two years later, it led the way for Maine to become the first state prohibition law in 1846. In the early 1900’s prohibition support grew among factory workers to increase efficiency of their workers and prevent accidents.

During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson created a temporary wartime prohibition to save grain for producing food. In 1917, Congress submitted the 18th Amendment which banned manufacturing, transportation, and sale of alcohol within the United States. This was made possible by the number of dry members (those who supposed prohibition of alcohol) winning seats in Congress. At first the number of arrests for drunkenness declined, but the success would not last long. Americans soon became desperate for alcohol and people knew supplying alcohol illegally could result in a large profit. Moonshining (informal production of liquor), bootlegging (illegal manufacturing and sale of liquor) and speakeasies (bars and nightclubs selling alcohol) all became popular over the next decade. The people in charge of these also became wealthy; my great-grandfather was one who made a large profit off bootlegging.

After the Fascist leader Benito Mussolini took control of Italy in the 1920’s, many Italians fled Italy and found home with the mafia in the United States. The mafia and other gangs began importing alcohol from other countries and selling it; they would also violently kill each other in order to gain more area to sell alcohol. Chicago gangster Al Capone was responsible for exterminating numerous rival gangs, which allowed him to make $60 million annually from bootlegging. The costs of law enforcement also went up as more were needed to go after criminals.

Besides the increase in violence due to prohibition, the idea that legalizing the liquor industry would create jobs became a popular thought during the Great Depression. In 1933, the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th Amendment, allowing the United States to sell alcohol again; the number of gangs and violence decreased soon afterward. Though the United States tried to decrease violence due to alcohol, it instead increased overall violence by allowing the criminals to be in charge of alcohol. If guns were banned, then the criminals would make profit by providing the ones willing to pay with guns. The criminals would also be the only ones with the guns since criminals do not follow rules. The costs of enforcing the gun ban would be high, resulting in Americans paying higher taxes to make sure that their neighbor does not have a gun. Banning guns may seem the answer, but it is not. Switzerland has a low murder rate and yet has the third-highest number of guns per capita on Earth. The highest number of mass shootings in the United States did not happen in 1999 or 2012, it happened in 1929.


The Facts about Mass Shootings John Fund Nation Review Online

Prohibition History Channel

It’s the Guns Michael Moore


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