Weekly Comments Archive
Archived Issue
Sunday, March 4, 2018
ISSUE #928
Preventing school massacres ; Will Rogers on guns

The school massacre in Florida continues to draw attention. Everyone has one goal: prevent future school killings.

A good friend in Oklahoma who is also a safety expert, Carl Potter of Tulsa, laid out a complete plan to secure school buildings similar to the way a lot of federal government buildings are protected. While most commentators are focused on banning certain guns, Carl’s plan would work against any weapon.

Carl asked me, “What would Will Rogers say about guns and shootings?”

I’ll get to Will’s comments, but first here are a few of my own observations. Money is a major issue. Teachers already say they are underpaid and have few supplies. What would a school district cut to pay for security? If the bulk of local property taxes already go to schools, will these folks gladly pay more? Will states increase their sales tax?

If all the schools become secure, what is the next target? Colleges? Shopping centers? Parades? Sensible prevention is the key. Incompetence and silly rules allowed Cruz, and several previous mass murderers, to get guns and keep them. For young folks, it starts with parents. If they can’t control a dangerous offspring and separate him from guns, knives and other weapons, then the police and mental health professionals should step in. There is no perfect solution. These “crazies” are always easy to identify…after the murders. And they will find new ways around security measures or bans on certain guns.

Ok, Carl, here are a few of Will Rogers comments on guns and killings. His comments were often in a lighter vein, but still had a subtle, serious message. Will wrote about guns, murders and automatic weapons. (Note that automatic weapons were common during Prohibition (1920s) but were later banned by Congress at different times, including 1986.)

Historic quotes by Will Rogers:

“Nowadays the so-called bad man is either an escaped Lunatic or thick-headed [drug] fiend or somebody full of terrible liquor… Still these addle brains can go and buy a gun any place they want to. You know what has been the cause of the big increase in murders? It’s been the manufacture of the automatic pistol. It’s alright to have it invented, but it should never have been allowed outside the Army. If you are going to sell guns to everybody, let’s fix it so the party behind the gun will be at least a clear-headed, skilled marksman instead of a drunken amateur.”  WA #145, Sept. 20, 1925

“When the judgement day comes, civilization will have an alibi ‘I never took a human life, I only sold the fellow the gun to take it with.’” DT #926, July 15, 1929

“Passed through Chicago today. It was raining bad and practically all the shootings were confined to indoors. A few who had raincoats were outside plugging away at each other.” DT #339, Aug. 23, 1927

“Yesterday another New York catastrophe happened in one of the hourly shooting [disturbances] which are held on the Public Streets. An innocent bystander was shot. You just stand around in New York long enough and be innocent, and someone will shoot you. That really was quite an event to shoot an innocent person in New York City. It takes better shooting than you think. You know policemen in New York are never taught to aim; they are instructed just to shoot up the street. No matter who they hit it will be someone that should have been hit before. They very seldom hit the one originally intended, but they most always get a worse one.” WA #129, May 31, 1925

“I tell you the world owes women a terrible lot, and one of our greatest debts to them is for shooting some of the men. If we can just improve their marksmanship we can improve civilization. You give a woman a gun and let her practice with it as much as she does with a powder puff (you never saw one miss their nose, even in the dark) and this will be a better world to live in. People think there is a lot of shooting going on in the United States nowadays, but I tell you there is not half as much as there ought to be. About every fourth fellow you meet nowadays ought to be shot.” WA #175, Apr. 18, 1926

“The fuss raised over Prohibition has done twice as much harm as the drinking has. The drys wanted it in the Constitution and they got it in there.  The wets wanted to drink and they got it.  So what is all this shooting about anyhow?  It is in the Constitution and it is going to stay there as long as there is a bottle left. I have told Prohibition jokes on both sides of this question all over the country, in every town hall and every hay barn and in lots of the churches all over the country I have spoke in, and people have laughed at the little jokes, and then they would go right out the next day and elect a dry.” Radio, June 8, 1930


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