A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from February 01, 2013
“Guns don’t kill people—people kill people”

"Guns don’t kill people—people kill people” (also “Guns don’t kill—people do") is a popular saying among anti-gun control advocates. The saying has been popular with National Rifle Association members, but was never an official slogan of the NRA.

A May 31, 1959 newspaper article from the Associated Press indicates that the saying might have been coined—or at least popularized—by Fred A. Roff, Jr. (1916-1969), then president of the Colt Patent Fire Arms Company:

“‘Our big concern,’ says Roff, son of a police chief, ‘is to make sure that guns get into the hands of only those who know how to safely use them. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.’”


31 May 1959, San Diego (CA) Union, “‘Bang-Bang’ Boom: TV Westerns Send Gun Sales Soaring” by James Bacon (Associated Press), pg. E8, col. 1:
“Our big concern,” says Roff, son of a police chief, “is to make sure that guns get into the hands of only those who know how to safely use them. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”
(Fred A. Roff Jr., president of the Colt Patent Fire Arms Co.—ed.)

1 June 1960, Boston (MA) Traveler, “Daily Mail Call: About Guns,” pg. 33, col. 3:
Remember that guns don’t kill people, people kill people, and that’s the truth.
Confident.

19 December 1963, Evening World-Herald (Omaha, NE), “The Public Pulse,” pg. 30, col. 7:
On Dope and Poison.
Ralston, Neb.
To the gun nuts that repeat that tiresome refrain, “Guns don’t kill people; people do,” I say:

On the same line of reasoning, why put any controls on the sale of dope or poison? They are harmful only when they are put to wrongful use.
B. W.

Google Books
Voices from the Crowd Against the H-Bomb
By David Boulton
London: P. Owen
1964
Pg. 182:
A notice I saw in a Liverpool gunsmith’s window puts it very well: guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

Google Books
The Right to Bear Arms
By Carl Bakal
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
1966
Pg. 236:
Here are some of the strangest items in my collection, which are offered in rebuttal to that specious NRA adage: “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people!”

14 July 1968, The Sunday Oregonian (Portland, OR), pg. F7 ad:
ARGUMENTS AGAINST ADDITIONAL GUN CONTROL LEGISLATION
1. The Constitutional right to bear arms provided by the Bill of Rights would be infringed by proposed federal legislation.
2. Guns don’t kill people—people kill people.
3. When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.
(Harlan Griffith Ford—ed.)

OCLC WorldCat record
Firearms and Assault: “Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People” (From Gun Control Debate, P 170-176, 1990, Lee Nisbet, ed.—See NCJ-127634)
Author: F E Zimring; G Hawkins
Publisher: United States 1990
Edition/Format: Book : English
Database: NCJRS Abstracts Database
Summary:
The most forcible statements of the opposing viewpoint may be found in the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence Task Force Report on Firearms and Violence and two Chicago studies of fatal and nonfatal assaults. It is pointed out that although other weapons are involved in homicide, firearms are not only the most deadly instrument of attack but also the most versatile. Firearms make some attacks possible that simply would not occur without firearms. They permit attacks at greater range and from positions of better concealment than other weapons. They also permit attacks by persons physically or psychologically unable to overpower their victim through violent physical contact. It is because of their capacity to kill instantly and from a distance that firearms are virtually the only weapon used in killing police officers.

OCLC WorldCat record
Guns don’t kill, people do : the NRA’s case against gun control : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in American Studies in the University of Canterbury
Author: C D Fletcher
Dissertation: Thesis (M.A.)--University of Canterbury, 1994.
Edition/Format: Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : English

Quote/Counterquote
January 18, 2013
Some people say “Guns don’t kill people.” Other people say…
THE FAMOUS ANTI-GUN CONTROL SLOGAN:
“Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”
The unofficial slogan of the National Rifle Association
Contrary to popular belief, this is not an official NRA slogan, though it has been used by NRA members and other gun rights advocates since at least the 1950s. Ironically, it has also been used as a gun safety slogan. For example, in a May 31, 1959 Associated Press story I found in NewspaperArchive.com, Fred A. Roff Jr., president of the Colt Patent Fire Arms Co., was quoted as saying “Our big concern is to make sure that guns get into the hands of only those who know how to use them. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”

Daily Kos
WED JAN 30, 2013 AT 07:04 AM PST
U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander: Guns don’t kill people, video games do
by Jed Lewison
This is United States Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, making the case that guns video games are “a bigger problem than guns” because unlike guns, “video games affect people.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Friday, February 01, 2013 • Permalink