This is from the epilogue of William Manchester’s remarkable book, The Death of a President—November 1963, which I’ve just finished:
“On the issue of small-arms control the [Warren] report was silent; the commissioners debated among themselves and decided this question lay outside their province. In the wake of the assassination the pressure for such legislation seemed irresistible; a Gallup poll revealed that eight out of ten Americans favored new laws requiring police permits of weapons buyers. Robert Kennedy asked Congress to outlaw the mail-order traffic, supportive mail engulfed the Hill, and in the weeks after the funeral Senator Thomas Dodd of Connecticut introduced a sensible bill to ban mail-order sales, bar weapons from abroad unsuitable for sporting use, forbid sales to people under twenty-one, and require all purchasers to identify themselves so police could later trace them. The American Bar Association endorsed it and was ignored. The Director of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons pointed out that “After all, cars have to be registered and drivers licensed” and was unheard. Indeed, though eighteen such measures were introduced on the Hill, none of the gun laws went off. The United States remained the only modern nation in the world without firm regulation of the sale and use of firearms—Oswald couldn’t have assassinated Kruschev in Russia—and in 1964 some 600, 000 cheap firearms were brought into the country.
“A great many seemed to regard all proposals for tighter controls as a challenge to their virility….”