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Posted: 8/15/2001 10:17:32 AM EDT
I'm re-reading 'That Every Man Be Armed' after having read it, and applied a highlighter liberally, a few years ago. I highlighted many passages in the section where Halbrook discusses how we adopted the 2nd as it reads today. LOTS of quotes supporting individual rights, militia as 'the people' to hold gov't 'in awe' and the like by both Federalists and anti-Federalists of the time. Question: Can anyone supply or point me in the direction of quotes from men of the time AGAINST the private ownership of firearms, militia being 'the people' or the like? I'm sure you can't but I'd be interested in any that exist. CB
Link Posted: 8/15/2001 1:30:14 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/15/2001 1:48:16 PM EDT by DonS]
This is a debate I pay quite a bit of attention too, and there doesn't seem to be much in the way of period quotes that support the gun control point of view. In my several years on talk.politics.guns, and in various on-line debates, I have never heard any argument based upon such quotes. The best the anti gunners can do is come up with lots of quotes by Gen. George Washington and other colonial officials (mostly Continental army officiers) questioning the efficiency of the militia (they never seem to quote the British officiers who the militia was shooting at--who often viewed our militia as [i]quite[/i] efficient). The other line of argument I've heard basically consists of "interpreting" the changes to what was to become the Second Amendment, in comittee. But this is [i]very[/i] weak, and requires considerable "interpretation" to arrive at any sort of pro-guncontrol conclussion. The latest pro-gun control argument of a similar nature is in [i]Arming America : The Origins of a National Gun Culture[/i], by Michael A. Bellesiles. The main argument in [i]Arming America[/i] is based on probate records. Specifically, Bellesiles claims that the period probate records he sampled show that few owned guns and many of those didn't work. The problem is, others have since sampled the same source data, and found that [i]many[/i] guns were owned. We can't actually verify Bellesiles records, cause the dog ate 'em (actually, he says that his only copy was destroyed by water damage). Bellesiles also puts forth travel records and other first hand accounts, arguing that few mention private use of firearms. He's been caught on this--he has made this claim of many accounts that definitly did include mention of private firearms. So he is either missread lots of accounts, or he is lying. Further, Bellesiles claims that period black powder weapons were not effective. To back up this claim, he points out that in New York state in 1994, bow hunters bagged many more deer than black powder hunters. He fails to mention that the bow hunters have a long period at the start of the season, and black powder hunters have a short period at the end of the season. He specifically does not mention that the winter was very harsh in New York that year, and that [i]every[/i] other year, the black powder guys bagged more. Further, Bellesiles takes George Washington and others out of context in their critizism of the militia. Bellesiles work seems to be the best the antigunners can do. And it is garbage, based upon data mining and outright lies. Perhaps a better argument could be launched, but the question is, why haven't they done so? They are clearly smart people (well, not all of them. But some of them). So why don't they come up with something of substance? The answer, I believe, is that they can't.
Link Posted: 8/15/2001 1:43:39 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/15/2001 2:01:07 PM EDT by DonS]
Info on Bellesiles: [url]http://www.guncite.com/gun_control_bellesiles.html[/url] [url]http://www.rkba.org/research/bellesiles/stanford-chan-flyer.html[/url] As a side point, I think that some of those on our side are too quick to agree with some anti arguments. For example, many at first assumed that Bellesiles probate records were accurate ("our" argument was that probate records undercount gun ownership, etc.), and others on our side have agreed that the militia was not very effective. We now know that his probate recordes don't match more recent research into that area, and the militia was more effective than often claimed, sometimes being very effective indeed.
Link Posted: 8/15/2001 2:22:59 PM EDT
Thanks, Don. Just as I thought and leave it to you to put it so well. I received 'Arming America' as a b-day gift recently from a liberal friend of mine. A misguided attempt to sway me. She'd included the receipt so I washed my hands before I picked it up to read and treated it gently and was able to return it after reading it. What a terrible book. I used the post-return proceeds to buy Lott's book AND a Turtledove novel which are next on the reading list. On your point about 'interpreting' the 2nd because of the changes in wording it went through before it ended up as it is today I've had actually 'thinking' liberals use that tack with me. It's always been easy to shoot that argument down. I just typed up Halbrook's discussion on this point, with footnotes, and let them read it. Eyes widen and jaws drop with rewarding regularity. Keep it up. CB
Link Posted: 8/15/2001 3:44:44 PM EDT
Yet more on Bellesiles:
The biggest evidentiary dispute is over Mr. Bellesiles's use of probate records, or inventories of estates at the time of a citizen's death. Mr. Bellesiles based what many reviewers say is the most important part of the book on this research, the most significant part of which is an undisclosed number of probate records from 1765-90. From this, he claims that only 14.7% of adult American males owned guns, that the few guns that did exist were usually listed as old or broken, and that women did not own guns. James Lindgren, a professor of law at Northwestern, along with student Justin Heather, spent months going back through what they say are all the published records Mr. Bellesiles cites, as well as at a substantial number of original records at courthouses and on microfilm. They found that, in the mid-1770s, 54% of men and 18% of women owned firearms, and that most of the guns were not listed as old or broken. "In the only sources of probate records that Mr. Bellesiles cites in his published works, there are many more guns than he discloses," says Mr. Lindgren. "No one who has seen the evidence can figure out how he could have made such errors, or why he has not retracted the obviously mistaken data." It's hard to make a direct comparison to Mr. Bellesiles's work because the Emory professor didn't keep a database; he says he compiled his data on paper notes that were recently flooded and ruined. Randolph Roth, an associate history professor at Ohio State who specializes in violent crime and violent death, has seen Mr. Lindgren's work and says that "it looks as though Mr. Bellesiles work won't be reproducible, that it is off by a factor of three to four."
View Quote
--[i][b]Arm-Twisting[/b] A historian's book makes the case for gun control. Other scholars hotly dispute his claims. [/i] BY KIMBERLEY A. STRASSEL in [i]The Wall Street Journal's editorial page[/i] [url]http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/kstrassel/?id=85000800[/url]
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