And Then Came Prohibition

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When the Prohibition act came into play in 1918 the weapon surplus from the war created ample opportunity for increased criminal activity that would be the major instigator in the regular reform of American gun laws. Criminals could easily get their hands on many different weapons and their appeal to the rising illegal gun market created an increased atmosphere of danger for cities across the country.

Detroit was one of the major cities where the effects of prohibition, crime and guns were readily seen. Before prohibition in 1918, Detroit had 2,334 liquor-serving establishments that ballooned to a whopping 15,000 speakeasies (the term used to describe establishments that sold alcoholic beverages illegally, generally relevant to the Prohibition era.) Corruption was common within police forces, the court system and in the political arena. Whiskey running and bootlegging along the Detroit River was the norm and raids often went sour, especially when half the scheduled officers called in sick; the payoffs were widespread to look the other way. The times hold many stories of bloody gun battles to control criminal activity at different levels resulting in a string of massacres like the horrific St. Valentines Massacre.