Crime History, Dec. 13, 1932: Congressman on House floor subdues gunman

 On this day, Dec. 13, in 1932, a deranged man drew a loaded revolver in the visitors’ gallery of the floor of the House of Representatives and demanded time to speak on the nation’s economic depression.

U.S. Rep. Melvin Maas received the Carnegie Silver Medal for disarming a maniac in the United States House of Representatives.

U.S. Rep. Melvin Maas received the Carnegie Silver Medal for disarming a maniac in the United States House of Representatives.

Marlin Kemmerer, 25, aimed his .38-caliber pistol at the chamber below, sending visitors and congressmen running for cover in the U.S. Capitol.

Kemmerer,  a sporting-goods clerk from Allentown, Pa., carried a note that began, “Okay America! For the next 20 minutes you will listen to a speech which has the interest of the American people. The first man that tries to stop me will die. Is that understood?”

Minnesota Rep. Melvin Maas, a World War I veteran who continued to serve in the Marine Corps Reserve, remained on the House floor and calmly pleaded with Kemmerer to relinquish his weapon.

“All right, son,” Maas replied, “I’ll give you 20 minutes. But we have rules here. You can’t speak with a gun. Come on, give me the gun.”

Kemmerer finally dropped the loaded and cocked gun into Maas’ outstretched hands.

New York Rep. Fiorello La Guardia and an off-duty D.C. police officer seized Kemmerer. He was arrested and released soon after having been placed under psychiatric care.

– Scott McCabe

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