It shocked the nation, over and over again. At one point though, it became so prevalent that people startedbecoming immune to the shootings. When it stopped being criminals killing each other and turning toward civilians and police officers, the public did begin to get more concerned. Of course, there were always those who thought the criminals were justified. After all, they were robbing the very banks that had robbed many Americans when the great crash happened in 1929 and so many lost their entire life savings. Many things had a part in the growing violence of the 1920s and the 1930s. Of course prohibition was a main driver of the emergence of gangs both in Chicago and other large cities on the East coast. The Great Depression made many people desperate as well.
Something brought fire power to the gangsters that hadn’t been there before though. That was the Tommy gun. Originally, it had be created as a weapon that could be used to help American troops in war, however it wasn’t picked up by the military at first. When World War I ended, they didn’t see a need for the submachine gun that could fire up to 800 rounds in a minute. So the manufacturers turned to law enforcement as a place to sell their guns. However, police were concerned about having a weapon that sprayed bullets and could just as easily hurt innocent bystanders as take out a gangster. Gangsters on the other hand saw the great potential of the Tommy gun and used it freely.
Tommy: the gun that changed America by Karen Blumenthal is a fascinating look at how a gun changed the landscape, not only of how gangsters operated, but also gave the FBI, which was just starting out, the beginnings of its reputation, as well as changed how law enforcement worked with each other. It also saw the beginnings of specific gun laws, and how even in the 1930s, the long arm of the NRA was exerting itself.
Recommended for any true crime buffs, lovers of the 1930s, gangsters and early law enforcement. A great read. Good for mature 6th graders and up – warning it is a little dry at the beginning as it describes how the gun came to be.