John Dillinger, center, strikes a pose with Lake County prosecutor Robert Estill, left, in the jail at Crown Point, Ind., in 1934. Dillinger was awaiting trial for the murder of police officer Willliam Patrick O’Malley when Dillinger robbed the First National Bank of East Chicago on Jan. 15, 1934. Dillinger was among the gangsters mentioned as Congress debated the first significant federal gun-control law, the National Firearms Act of 1934. (AP Photo)
Chicago gangster Al Capone has his photo taken while in custody in Philadelphia, May 18, 1929, on charges of carrying concealed weapons. It was gangland violence by Capone and others that spurred Congress to pass the first significant federal gun-control law in 1934. (AP Photo)
CHICAGO — It was 1934. Mobsters armed with fully automatic “Tommy guns” had left a trail of bloodstained sidewalks and pockmarked walls across the country, and the new president had narrowly escaped assassination the year before. It was time for action on gun control. And the National Rifle Association seemingly agreed.