If you love trashy pop culture as much as I do, you have long been aware that prior to about 1941, pulp heroes loved shooting handguns and submachine guns.
And then those pulp heroes were strangely swept away by low-quality World War II fiction.
And then for a while, fiction had lots of pistol-packing loners who shot first and asked questions later – but at some point around 1968 or so, suddenly martial arts got pushed more than guns.
These two transitions did not happen by accident. These were footnotes to tyranny.
In the pulp era, there were popular heroes like Doc Savage, a super-inventor who created super-deadly submachine guns.
In 1934, the USA tried to disarm many of its citizens with a Victim Disarmament Act that mostly banned submachineguns.
When a boy can’t realistically plan to get a submachinegun – and the men who write adventure fiction can’t realistically practice with such guns in order to write good stories about them – fiction has to find other things to fantasize about.
And then again, in 1968, a similar act was passed, making guns inaccessible for many urban youths.
Martial arts had always been cool, of course – even Sherlock Holmes was an expert at unarmed combat, stick-fighting, etc. But in 1968, a lot of boy who had been saving up for guns decided that they had to spend that piggy-bank money on karate lessons instead.
These were not the first laws to disarm various citizens. But these particular laws caused ripples in pop culture.
Meanwhile, a few armed Americans continue to discourage thuggish violence: