Indiscriminate Sale of Firearms Should Be Prohibited
By Dr. T. B. W. LELAND
Coroner, City and County of San Francisco
The promiscuous sale of firearms
should be prohibited. We have had ample opportunity to realize the dangers
that arise from the use of the death-dealing instruments. When are we
going to awaken? We must treat the men who carry guns as potential
murderers. Be done with the sentimentalistic foolery. We have got to realize
that a man who wields a gun does not do so with any sympathetic object. He
is out of his game just the same as a hunter on the steppes.
It is unfortunate that a police officer, or for that matter, any other man
should die the victim of a bullet which civilization, common decency and the
inherent law to protect, should not allow. We may awaken sometime but it
looks as if we are extremely indifferent, diffident and negligent.
We cannot pardon ourselves as murderers. We are assassins, cold in fact as
this may appear to be, because we not only allow such a situation to prevail
but we do nothing to prevent it.
Some day we are going to elect judges who are going to impose the penalty
which should be inflicted upon those who carry guns. We have had enough
molly-coddling of the criminal. We demand not only that the criminal be
punished but that judges will see the advisability of meting out the penalty
that common sense dictates.
We are reminded of the lines in that famous Gilbert & Sullivan operetta:
"My object all sublime I will
Before the venerable Justice Grantham a few years ago in England, a men was
convicted of carrying concealed weapons. He had a gun but there was no
evidence that he had used it. The judge sentenced him to ten years penal
achieve in time
To make the punishment fit the crime
The punishment fit the crime."
Before "Bloody Jeffries" eighty-seven men were convicted not so many
years ago, of crimes less heinous than that of carrying a gun.
Sheep-stealing and a few of the crimes rampant in that day came under
judicial decision. Eighty-seven men died on the gallows and their
crimes would be considered petty misdemeanors in this day and age. We
respect dollars, we respect gangsters when conducting under the helm of
those who control the dollars.
We have reached a sad stage in American "progressivism" (God save the mark)
when we allow the wielders of the gun to escape the penalties which a just
law should prescribe. In the last few years there have been many cases
where a man's life was been cut short through the use of the gun. One of the
most recent instances was that of Michael McDonald who died on August 26,
A jury sitting in the court of Coroner Dr. T. B. W. Leland, found that
McDonald was murdered by Harold S. Meek who was afterwards shot by Officers
Borbeck and McConville.
The jury added this rider, which is significant in the light of present
"On account of the ease with which firearms are procured and on account of
the wave of crime existing in the United States at the present in which not
only ordinary firearms but machine guns are being used, we, the jury,
recommend the passage of a national bill to restrict the sale and use of
firearms; also that the governor, state legislature, the public press and
also state and civic bodies lend their active support toward the passage of
proper legislation controlling the sale, possession and use of firearms."
It is not to much hope that the day of firearms will be doomed. When we are
provided the proper restrictions, as we should as a people, gangsterism will
fade. The trouble with us now is that we have too much respect for the gun
and no respect for the law. The day when a man with a gun is absolute, we
bespeak, is passing.
San Francisco Municipal Reports - 1934
to top of page