In the early 1930s, with gangsters like John Dillinger mowing down his enemies with machine guns on the streets, Congress held hearings on a sweeping proposal to severely restrict firearm sales.
The testimony of one man — now totally forgotten — stood out.
"I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons," said Karl T. Frederick, according to a transcript of the hearings. "I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses."
Frederick's words were notable then, and especially now, because of who he was: the president of the National Rifle...