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OrbitalAxolotl

How do I stop Investigators from getting guns?

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yronimoswhateley

Nationally/Federally for most manual and repeating rifles and handguns and shotguns, I understand that back in those days it wasn't too difficult at all to mail-order a gun, or for kids to save up money and buy rifles in hardware stores or the like on their own... buying guns really wasn't too big a deal in the U.S. until the 1960s, with a couple exceptions.

 

The first exception was the National Firearms Act of 1934, which mostly restricted weapons like machine guns, particularly large-caliber rifles, short-barreled rifles, handguns with butt-stocks, long-barreled handguns, sawed-off shotguns, grenades and bombs and such, and oddities and gimmicks like gun mechanisms disguised as cigarette cases, canes, belt buckles, as well as certain attachments like silencers and the like.  The aim of the act was to restrict weapons of questionable value for anyone but trouble-makers and criminals - it was a response to the St. Valentine's Day Tommy-gun Massacre and other gangland murders and high-profile gun crimes.  Few serious gun sales of the era were affected by this.

 

That was followed by the Federal Firearms Act of 1938, which prohibited gun sales to certain classes of people  - specifically convicted felons and fugitives from justice - as well as trade in guns that have had serial numbers removed, and required international and interstate gun dealers to be licensed and keep records of sales.  I haven't quite narrowed down exactly what sorts of records are required to be kept, but in my experience with a C&R FFL, you're probably talking about something like the serial number and description of the gun, the date it was sold, and name and address of the buyer (and I doubt there was much that could be done to verify the buyer's identity in the 1930s, '40s, and '50s.)

 

A court ruling in 1939 affirmed that the NFA of 1934 allowed the Federal Government to regulate short-barreled shotguns, on the grounds that they were not suitable for arming a militia.

 

Nationally/Federally, the process got complicated with the Gun Control Act of 1968 - that was the year that John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, jr. were all assassinated, John F. Kennedy was assassinated with a surplus Italian military rifle ordered by mail. 

 

California doesn't seem to have been very picky up to the 1960s:  California would have prohibited carrying concealed weapons - especially guns - without a permit since the 1920s, and dealers were required to report large numbers of handgun sales to the same buyer since the 1920s, but other than that, California doesn't seem to have passed any interesting laws regarding guns until the 1960s.

 

Basically, I would assume that as long as the characters in question are white, above the age of 12, have the money and a credit rating higher than a hobo or something, and look halfway sane and normal, they can fork over money, and the shop owner will hand over the gun with some minimal paperwork.   I.e., the character simply needs to pass a handful of the usual, basic "wait - do we serve your kind around here?" tests.

 

 

EDIT TO ADD:  I should add that these Federal/National acts applied under Constitutional limitations on the United States federal government:  the federal government was very deliberately and heavily hamstrung on what it could do within the Constitution, and there really wasn't much power it could wield over gun transactions.  The key exceptions involved the power ceded to the federal government to regulate international and interstate trade, and that was really the context for these Federal/National acts:  wherever they involved international or interstate transfers or movements of firearms, or transfers or movement through federally-controlled territory (national parks, US territories, the District of Columbia, etc.) the Federal government could regulate firearms transactions, but that power vanished and fell back to the States on transactions and movements within the state... basically, unless the states had their own more restrictive rules, private citizens within the state could sell guns to each other without significant regulation or meddling.  (This basically is the so-called "gun show loophole".)   So, if your investigators know who to talk to (specifically, a friend, neighbor, family member, etc. with a gun to sell), they very well could legally buy guns within their own State without Federal/National intervention, restriction, paperwork, oversight, and hassle.

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Tony Williams

Thanks for the input peeps.

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BigJackBrass

I've been doing some light research into the Edwardian period for my supernatural investigation game and I found this from The Woman and the Car: A Chatty Little Handbook for all Women Who Motor or Who Want to Motor by Dorothy Levitt, 1909:

 

"If you are going to drive alone in the highways and byways it might be advisable to carry a small revolver. I have an automatic 'Colt', and find it very easy to handle as there is practically no recoil – a great consideration to a woman."

 

This was written for an English audience by a pioneering female racing driver. The chief considerations for me, all too often overlooked in RPGs, are context and consequences: a reasonable weapon carried with reasonable purpose may well be allowed in many places (and it's not as if anyone at the time would dream of checking a lady's belongings or person for concealed firearms!); unreasonable weapons, or the unreasonable use of a weapon, will carry consequences, potentially very severe, up to and including capital punishment.

 

"Reasonable" weapons will, of course, be of only limited utility against many creatures of the mythos. Give them scenarios where the solution should not involve firearms and where turning to them will invariably make things worse. Demonstrate that guns are not the only, or best, answer. 

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rylehNC

Send them to oppose a Colour out of Space. If a lot of their antagonists tend to be human-sized targets that might be affected by gunfire, it's perfectly logical for players to seek out firepower.

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carpocratian
13 hours ago, Tony Williams said:

Slight side query - I'm about to run "The Big Hoodoo" which is set in 1952 California. The PCs don't start with firearms but if they wanted to obtain one what would be the process ( I'm a Brit so have no clue about US procedures ) ? 

 

I did a bit of Googling and it seems like there was a lot of surplus ordinance from WWII that was being sold off in Army and Navy stores or you could pick one up from a pawnbrokers but were there any background checks or waiting periods ? From my Googling it seems like there wasn't; one just moseyed into the store, plunked down the cash and you got your gun. Is that right ?

 

Back then you could buy guns at any number of places, including gun stores, hardware stores, neighbors, flea markets, etc.  You just paid for them and took them.  There weren't any sort of background checks, waiting periods, registries, etc.

 

You can still do that to a certain degree in some states if you buy from individuals or use the "gun show loophole," as opposed to buying from a store.  I live in Texas, and if I saw a zombie apocalypse start up I could go out and buy a gun and ammo within a couple of hours.

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Gaffer

Except...

 

Many places, especially in the Notheastern US (NYC and Boston in particular) and as holdovers in many Western towns, have state and local ordinances that restrict carrying loaded firearms, either on your person or in the passenger section of your motor vehicle (rather like open container laws regarding alcoholic beverages). Also, most jurisdictions prohibit convicted felons from possessing firearms.

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Tony Williams

Once again, thanks for the answers fellow forumites.

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DeadlyTreadly
On 06/11/2018 at 17:43, PaulStJohnMackintosh said:

"During World War II, an infantryman with a rifle at an average engagement distance of 300 yards under combat stress expended 10,000 rounds for one hit." (Project SALVO Wikipedia). That may monkey with the kind of percentages you see in CoC, but it unquestionably is more realistic. And I know that for some types of player, the whole attraction of CoC is being able to go murder-hobo-with-bullets, but I do believe that a good Keeper can wring plenty of dramatic game fun out of the actual realities of gunplay.

 

I will just comment on this that the figures were for human targets, targets with which the shooter naturally felt a measure of empathy for. I would expect that once someone got over the shock of a deep one being a reality that their marksmanship would not suffer from any feelings of kinship (unless . . . )

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GBSteve

Read and apply the part about innocent bystanders from Greg Costikyan's Violence, the RPG (may contain swear and violence). Also SAN rolls to be able to shoot people, and then more if you cause damage - this ain't normal for people. And if the PCs have guns, the cultists are definitely going to tool up.

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yronimoswhateley

Now that you mention it GBSteve, I think that came up in another discussion here somewhere, as a matter of atmosphere, that I think that even the most deranged cultists might hesitate to cast those horrific Mythos spells and conjure up monsters, unless they've been driven to desperation by the investigators (the point in that discussion being that the cultists are probably going to be as surprised by what happens when they cast a spell as anyone!)  Getting caught in a firefight with heavily-armed investigators seems like just the thing that might tip those cultists with a healthy fear of what all those cool spells do over that edge of unhealthy desperation, forced into taking the sort of mad risks of summoning shadow horrors and astral vampires and face-eaters of Leng, for even the slimmest fighting chance...

 

In other words, when those cultists tool up, they might do so with guns, but they might also tool up with something even more nasty, foolish, and desperate, like spells for summoning sanity-shattering, reality-corroding, bullet-immune monsters from other dimensions....

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Gaffer

Nice point, yronimos.

 

Now the cult leader may be one of your hardcore, zero-San wizards who won't be fazed by the impossible, indescribable horror when it shows up, but what of his followers? They still may have enough Sanity to lose enough to go at least temporarily insane and start acting out in a variety of ways. Could be exciting.

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wcburns

My players in their last adventure ended up buying guns, along with a garrote and a sword-cane. To be fair I essentially gave them a connection. The gunplay that has occurred thus far has been in secluded places, or amounted to drawing on a person.

If you want to discourage their use, there are certainly some options. Most are common sense and some have been mentioned but worth reiterating:

 

1) Don't give them something that they can easily shoot at. If the cultists directly appear at all, it's in a public area with lots of people, and aren't in the cliche hooded cloaks. If they attack the players, it's very passively in the form of poisons, "accidents", or magic. Part of the game should be finding out who or what their adversary is. 

 

2) Many monsters are basically immune or resistant to gunfire. Let them unload a clip into a Flying Polyp to no avail.

3) Overwhelming odds. I'm planning a scenario involving the local gangs. If it comes to gunfire, there going to be upwards of 20 armed men. Even a group of players with tommy guns would be finished pretty quickly if they go down that route. To say nothing about a pack of ghouls or deep ones.

 

4) The law. Even the most gun-friendly parts of America will eventually come down hard on you if you're being reckless. Don't be afraid to send a PC or even the whole party to prison. It might end the session early but those are the breaks.

5) Consequences. They fire and miss? They hit a house, killing some poor person inside. Is the gun legitimate, or black market, and tied to other heinous crimes? If they go temporarily insane, they see everyone as monsters. Shooting inside a mineshaft causes hearing loss. Apply any sanity loss as needed.

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PaulStJohnMackintosh

Here's another example of the relative inaccuracy/ineffectiveness of firearms under true battle conditions. At the Battle of Rosebud in 1876, 43 officers and 1,000 other ranks under General Crook, armed with modern carbines and rifles, repulsed several charges made by 800 mounted Sioux and Cheyenne warriors. "The battle raged for six hours, the soldiers had expended 25,000 rounds of ammunition, the Indian lost 102 killed and wounded. It gives a rate of 250 rounds/1 casualty."

 

Bear in mind that those are trained soldiers, even if they're fighting highly mobile mounted adversaries, who were exceptionally good at dodging bullets. Each soldier carried 100 rounds of ammunition. I'm not sure what rifles were used in this battle, but I suspect they were Springfield model 1873 rifles in full-length and carbine versions, firing around 11-12 rounds per minute of the accurate and pretty lethal .45-70 round. So the kill ratio was astonishingly low. The majority of troops would have shot themselves dry without hitting anything.

 

As I said above, if you want to give a game-friendly excuse for real-world-style shooter inaccuracy, put it down to the sheer terror of a gunfight. And Call of Cthulhu is supposed to be all about terror, right? This gives a more authentic way to curb your players' murder-hobo instincts while staying true to the spirit of the game.

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GBSteve

I think for most players it's less about the absolute accuracy of the simulation but maximising the survival chances of their character. If guns are available, and effective - whether that's historically accurate or not (and let's face it, guns are the lesser worry if we're talking about historical accuracy when there are monsters and magic involved), players are going to use them.

 

I guess it's up to the group as a whole to decide whether they want violence to be the solution to the issues raised by the game. I'm not saying it shouldn't be. In my current campaign, one nest of cultists was dealt with by dropping an alchemical bomb on their holy of holies. And another by stabbing through the eye with a magical knife. The characters still carry guns, although I'm not sure why as they haven't shot anything recently (possibly ever) - but then they do have magic.

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blackstone

Why would I stop them? If it gives them a false sense of security, then so be it.

Not all situations will require the use of firearms to be the solution.

Remember: most of the time when a gun fight starts, it's generally too late. 

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DrMonster

The monster eats lead, literally.  Each successful shot increases its hit points based on the amount of damage rolled.  Maybe it is actually losing hit points at a constant rate since the moment of its summoning and would eventually collapse -- except the adventurer's gunfire is extending its lifespan.

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RogerBW

The slug smashed his right eye, off by an inch, and I knew he'd shaken me. I dropped back and tried to cool off. 

No noises. Still no sign that he wasn't alone. 

"I said, 'Why did you do that?'" 

Mild curiosity colored his high-pitched voice. He didn't move as I stood up, and there was no hole in either eye. 

"Why did I do what?" I asked cleverly. 

"Why did you make holes in me? My gratitude for the gift of metal, of course, but-" He stopped suddenly, like he'd said too much and knew it.

 

— from Larry Niven, The Meddler

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