Beverly Gage: History Suggests Gun Change is Possible





Beverly Gage, a Yale history professor, is the author of The Day Wall Street Exploded.

...Like millions of other heartsick people, I am inclined to despair at this list, to think that though all of this must change, it never will. But as a historian I am reminded that change often comes slowly, and with great pain and effort. A century ago, there were forms of graphic, brutal violence considered so thoroughly American that they could never be banished from the national landscape. Today they no longer exist. In the story of how these changes happened, there may be a model—or a least a bit of hope—for the present.

One example is class violence, once seen a shameful but ineradicable feature of American life. Beginning in the 1870s, the United States became infamous around the world for the brutality of its labor clashes, in which gun battles, dynamitings, and hand-to-hand combat produced what seemed to be an unending stream of senseless death. Sometimes the violence came at the hands of police: 100 strikers killed during the rail uprising of 1877, 11 children burned to death in the 1914 Ludlow Massacre. On other occasions, it came as retaliation from below. In 1910, men employed by the Bridge and Structural Iron Workers blew up the headquarters of the anti-union Los Angeles Times, killing 21 printers and laborers working inside....



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