Could Bellesiles's Problems Undermine Gun Control?
Mr. Williams lives near the Valley Forge Encampment and has a Masters in Computer Science. He frequently posts comments on H-OIEAHC.Emory University recently announced that an outside panel of scholars
will examine Michael Bellesiles’s Arming America—with results to be
announced this summer. If the investigation discredits Bellesiles then
it could hurt the arguments filed by gun-control advocates in a major
Second Amendment case ( US vs Emerson) that is coming before the
If the Supreme Court hears US vs Emerson, the Justices will review
material submitted to the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals: law
journal articles, the prosecution’s brief, and Amicus Curiae filed by
gun-control advocates. The material in support of the gun-control
position has a number of citations to Bellesiles’s publications – such
as the 1996 article “The Origins of the Gun Culture in the United
States” which was the initial basis for Arming America. The Fifth
Circuit Court’s opinion cites several Chicago-Kent law journal
articles, including one by Michael Bellesiles, as defining the
“collective right” interpretation which supports gun control. The
Chicago-Kent articles in turn cite Bellesiles’s Arming America for
In March 1999, Federal Judge Sam Cummings dismissed gun possession
charges against Timothy Emerson on the basis that the charges violated
Emerson’s Second Amendment right to own a firearm. Cummings’s ruling
was based on the Standard Model or “individual right” interpretation
of the Second Amendment. Gun control policies, however, are based on
an opposing or “collective right” interpretation -- in which there is no
right to possess a firearm except during military service in the
Two organizations who have filed Amicus Curiae briefs in US vs Emerson,
the Second Amendment Foundation (pro-gun rights) and the Potomack
Institute (pro-gun control) have web sites with Emerson briefs and
supporting documents. A review of the documents at
those sites show that a group of historians reacted strongly to
In 1999, Northwestern historian Garry Wills released the book A
Necessary Evil. Wills argued that Standard Model advocates project a
false view of Revolutionary militias – that the militias performed badly
in battle and that most people did not have guns. In support, Wills
stated, “In one of the most important (but neglected) studies of the colonial
frontier, Michael Bellesiles went through over a thousand probate
Not quite a virginal debutante’s introduction to society – but close.
Pulitzer winner Garry Wills is known for his strong attack on the
Standard Model, published in the 1995 New York Review of Books.
In October 1999, three historians--Michael
Bellesiles, Saul Cornell,
and Don Higginbotham--challenged the Standard Model in articles
published in the Constitutional Commentary law review. The
Cornell and Higginbotham articles cite Bellesiles. Bellesiles, of
course, cites himself. Around that time, the prosecution appealed
Cummings’s ruling to the US Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The
prosecution’s brief states: “The case law and history ignored by Emerson
are more than adequately set forth in the Government's opening brief and
the amicus briefs of the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence et al. and the
Ad Hoc Group of Law Professors and Historians, as well as by countless
legal and historical researchers. See, e.g., Michael A. Bellesiles, Suicide Pact: New
Readings of the Second Amendment….” The prosecution then goes on to
cite the articles by Cornell and Higginbotham, Will’s A Necessary Evil, and an article
by historian Carl T. Bogus, which also cites Bellesiles.
The prosecution was supported by the Amicus filed by the “Ad Hoc Group
of Law Professors and Historians” --aka the “Yassky Brief.” The 53
members of the Ad Hoc Group included Michael Bellesiles. The Yassky
Brief argues: “Of particular importance, historians specializing in the
Founding period have rejected claims made by the individual rights
theorists as anachronistic.” The brief then precedes to cite the
freshly-printed Constitutional Commentary articles by Bellesiles,
Cornell, and Higginbotham.
In February 2000, Handgun Control’s Center to Prevent Handgun Violence
and the American Bar Association sponsored a Second Amendment Symposium
at the National Press Club in Washington DC. Bellesiles, Higginbotham,
and Cornell gave talks criticizing the Standard Model and Lois
Schwoerer criticized historian Joyce Malcolm’s arguments for the
Standard Model. The announced purpose of the Symposium was to “challenge
the gun lobby's on-going campaign of misinformation about the Second
Amendment." Given that the Center filed a gun-control amicus in
Emerson, one could assume that the Symposium was directed toward any
Supreme Court Justices or clerks who might be in the neighborhood.
In April 2000, the Joyce Foundation, a gun-control advocacy group,
sponsored another Second Amendment Symposium with the Chicago-Kent Law
Review. Carl T. Bogus, in the introductory lecture, cheerfully acknowledged the
nature of the Symposium: “With generous support from the Joyce Foundation,
the Chicago-Kent Law Review sponsored this Symposium to take a fresh look
at the Second Amendment and, particularly, the collective right theory. This is not, therefore,
a balanced symposium. No effort was made to include the individual right
point of view. Full and robust public debate is not always best served
by having all viewpoints represented in every symposium. Sometimes
one point of view requires greater illumination.".
presentations were published in the Chicago-Kent Law
Review. Ten out of eleven articles cite Bellesiles or Arming
America. An example from Dorf’s article: “What of Madison's assumption
that the people would have arms? The short answer is that the
assumption was inaccurate. Historian Michael Bellesiles has
discovered that fewer than seven percent of white males
in western New England and Pennsylvania owned working guns upon their
deaths. As Garry Wills effectively argues, Bellesiles's discovery
is consistent with other evidence tending to show that the notion of
founding-era militias comprising nearly all able-bodied adult white males
was never more than a myth … the historical work of scholars like
Bellesiles and Bogus substantially undermines the individual right position.”
Several presenters at the Chicago-Kent Symposium were also co-signers of
the Yassky brief.
Several of the Chicago-Kent Law Review articles were cited in the
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling as defining the “collective right”
interpretation. Among those were Michael Bellesiles’s article “The
Second Amendment in Action” which is a slightly modified version of
Chapter Seven of Arming America.
Hence, if Michael Bellesiles’s work is discredited, it may cast a cloud
over the “collective right” presentation in US vs Emerson – by raising
the question of objectivity, expertise, and credibility. The very
intensity of the Ad Hoc Group and allies could suggest that scholarly
objectivity is not the ruling passion here. When Arming America was
released in 2000, it soared in part because historians Garry Wills and
Carl T. Bogus gave it very favorable reviews in the New York Times and
the American Prospect.
By contrast, a review of briefs supporting Emerson shows no similar
group of historians engaged in such intense advocacy for the Standard
Model or making a similarly strong attack on the “collective right”
US vs Emerson is a major constitutional, legal, and public policy issue
which should be treated in an evenhanded way. So who decided to heavily
subsidize the gun-control argument while starving the gun-rights' side
of the issue? Bellesiles says he spent 10 years
researching Arming America. The Stanford Humanities Center's web site
indicates that he spent 1998-99 there, working full time on the"The
Origins of American Gun Culture." The other professors who created
the content of the Constitutional Commentary and Chicago-Kent articles
would have also required heavy financial support for past research. Did
any of this money come, directly or indirectly, from the US taxpayers --
e.g., via grants from the government's National Endowment for the Humanities ?
Why has the federally-subsidized historical community been so reluctant
to examine Bellesiles's work before it goes to the Supreme Court? As
noted, Bellesiles published his article on Early American gun ownership
and militias back in 1996. Arming America's description of militia
performance is not consistent with works by other historians, with US
Army studies, or with primary historical sources. So why have
thousands of associate professors been slow to upset the Ad Hoc Group's
Within the historical community, the bulk of the research showing
problems in Bellesiles' work has been done by Clayton Cramer --who's had
to work on his own time without financial support. The William and
Mary Quarterly issue of January 2002 was a decent first attempt, but the
critics were given a small page quota.
Illustration by Curtiss Calleo.
comments powered by Disqus
Alec Lloyd - 5/28/2002
So, given the fact that there is only one point of border contact (the Chunnel) and that all other smugglers' routes must use air or water links, how is it that despite strict gun control, the rate of British gun crime and violence continues to spiral upward? Even the most cursory glance at the Times, Telegraph or virtually any British news source confirms double-digit increases in assaults and other violent crimes. Shootings are also posting dramatic increases and yet we are to believe that wholesale gun prohibition (including the right to self-defense) has no effect on this whatsoever?
Geography tells us that an island is harder to infiltrate than a nation with extensive continental borders. For this reason, the British test case is instructive. Lacking thousands of miles of sparsely patrolled frontiers and aided by considerable police powers (stop-and-search, for example), Britain is still awash in illicit firearms.
True, the former East Bloc nations are in close proximity to England's illicit markets, but one would suspect that rather large moat would be a more considerable barrier to smuggling than the Mexican border.
This seems to point out that geography has less to do with gun smuggling than economics and human nature. Smugglers always will find weak points. Customs officials can be paid off. Police weapons can be stolen or sold on the black market. British police armorers already have been found "moonlighting" as illegal manufacturers. No government has yet found a way to correct the flaws of human nature and make us all saints.
Instead of geography, Square1 should pay more attention to the lessons of history. Gun control has never stemmed a crime wave; it has only exacerbated it. Non-violent societies (such as Japan) may indulge in it without much trouble, but for more violent ones to embrace it is to court disaster. For a society experiencing an upsurge in violence, gun control is the worst possible response. Britian is now proof of this, and geography has nothing to do with it.
Jim March - 5/26/2002
Note that a large number of criminal guns in England have names on them like "Makarov" and "Tokarev".
Note too that England is about as far from Moscow as New York is from Texas. And it is just as physically possible to walk from Moscow to London as it is from Houston to New York, due to the chunnel :).
Seriously though: with the collapse of the old Warsaw Pact, a massive small arms supply became available on the black market, and along with homebrew weird crap and stolen chopped-up fine sporting shotguns, is among the major sources of street guns in England.
Who here recalls the "biker gang wars" that struck Denmark and surrounding areas a while back, with the Hell's Angels and Banditos launching bazookas at each other's clubhouses? Things got pretty Quentin Tarantino for a while, mebbe 2-3 years ago. What that was all about, was control over smuggling routes that ran through Poland and the Baltic states, into the Ukraine and Russian and then down into the "-stans" nations - drugs, guns, cash and Siberian gold, mostly. Osama Yo Mama was at the Southern end of the trail. The Western-states gateway to all that fun was mostly Southern Scandinavia...German cops were too anal to screw with.
Anyways. Transit routes for guns will always follow the transit routes for drugs, and smugglers will be interested in both. Control of either is impossible, and in the case of guns serves only to mess up the balance of self defense, a basic human right.
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Jim March - 5/26/2002
Paul, that would appear to be a point, except that the deterrent effect of an armed citizenry isn't linked directly to the amount of armed defense in the citizenry, it's linked to the amount of armed defense the crooks THINK they'll run into.
We've seen this in the US. In some cases, a particular state will liberalize it's concealed weapons carry rules, say, passing a law late in 1995. But it doesn't take effect until 1/1/96, then there's a 2+ month delay to do background checks, training, etc. In reality, there ain't gonna be significantly more armed folk on the street until mid-96, counting inevitable backups with whoever does the background checks.
But muggings spike downwards sometime around October - of 1995.
That's when the liberal media immediately starts wailing about how legally armed citizens are going to be such a nightmare.
Well that's partially true - they're a crook's worst nightmare.
Crooks not being big readers, and not normally major students of current events, what they catch is a couple of soundbites on the boob tube news. That gets passed around word of mouth at dive bars or whatever. The details about exactly when all this happens gets at least partially overlooked.
This has been tracked in several states, as they converted to widespread legal street carry.
OK, so what's this got to do with England?
Most people in the US don't have any clue what all the gun laws are. Only law-abiding gun owners make any effort at all to study the subject. Crooks are NOT law-abiding by definition, so it seems likely they didn't understand how severely unarmed the population was.
So then Dunblaine happens, there's a wave of media attention, gun laws are strengthened, and the press/politicritters/etc make all kinds of happy noises about how disarmed the law-abiding now are.
Sure, it's quite likely that actual self defense ability wasn't affected all that much, because they were already screwed.
But the publicity alerted the crooks to how advantageous life really is - and THAT could have a far bigger impact than actual armament rates and/or ability.
Come to think, I know of another similar event.
Around the mid-80s, a company called KTM invented a genuine armor-piercing handgun round. The intent was to market it purely to law enforcement and military.
Politicians raised a big ruckus about banning them for civilian use, calling them "cop killers" - this was stirred in part by one of the "Lethal Weapon" movies that had such rounds as a plot point.
The net result?
Crooks learned about police body armor, and headshots to cops went up measurably. Again, all that had happened was that crooks became educated.
(Sidenote: weapons laws are often affected by dumb movies...the US switchblade laws were driven way more by "West Side Story" than criminology.)
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Andy Freeman - 5/26/2002
I'm curious - is Square1 rejecting Lord's theory that the number of guns predicts the number of with-gun murders? (It's obviously true at the "no guns means no with-gun murders" point, but that says nothing about its validity at other points.)
>> I think if you were to travel by airplane across the Atlantic Ocean and back (e.g. between New York and London) you would find that you and your baggage would be inspected at some length at Heathrow and JFK airports
So what? The vast majority of folk travelling to the UK aren't inspected at all. With respect to goods, the odds of being usefully inspected are even lower.
If border controls worked as Square1's argument requires, there'd be no illegal substances imported into the UK. (Note that guns are harder to detect than drugs, as guns are simply oddly shaped bits of metal.) Yet there are.
So, the English thug can only be disarmed by his choice or if English smugglers and illegal manufacturers won't traffic in guns. Which is it? Regardless, note that Americans are different.
Square1 - 5/26/2002
Dear Geography student:
I think if you were to travel by airplane across the Atlantic Ocean and back (e.g. between New York and London) you would find that you and your baggage would be inspected at some length at Heathrow and JFK airports
Has there ever been any remotely comparable checking of persons and possessions moving between New Jersey and New York, or Oklahoma and Texas, or any across state lines dividing any other pair of the fifty United States ?
Hint: You may wish to consult something called an "atlas". Sometimes it takes two hands to open one of those, but I think most people in the US and UK have two hands regardless of the quantity or quality of grey matter higher up the body.
Andy Freeman - 5/26/2002
>> Britain and the United States are different COUNTRIES.
Yes, and we're discussing North's explanation of one of the differences. His theory tells us that that Brits have fewer feet and hands (and possibly blunt objects), so I asked about that difference.
Is his theory wrong?
>> almost no controls whatsoever on transporting guns across state lines WITHIN the United States.
That's false. Every US state with "strict" controls HAS laws regarding transport/import. Folks may ignore those laws, just as they may ignore England's import laws, but they exist.
>> Comparing American states is just a smokescreen designed to obscure the relevant differences which are between countries.
No, it isn't. Comparing different American states with different levels of gun ownership allows us to test North's theory. His theory tells us that gun ownership rates are strongly related to gun murder rates. That's simply not true in the US.
Of course, if you want to discuss relevant differences, we could look at the murderous subcultures, the folks who kill, in both. (In the US at least, such folks are distinguished by more than the fact that they kill. Is the UK different.) We might well find that England and/or the UK does a better job with them than the US does, or that there's some reason why they're smaller in one country than the other.
Of course, such a discussion might not interest someone who is certain that gun control is relevant, as it will test that hypothesis.
Square1 - 5/26/2002
Britain and the United States are different COUNTRIES. Last time I noticed, there were fairly strict controls on importing guns between Britain and the U.S., and almost no controls whatsoever on transporting guns across state lines WITHIN the United States. Comparing American states is just a smokescreen designed to obscure the relevant differences which are between countries.
There may be many reasons why most Brits are less keen to scrap all gun controls than some people posting to this website. Believing that the America is still an English colony is probably not high among such reasons.
Andy Freeman - 5/25/2002
North's list labelled "More old lies" had two truths and one statement which is either not necessarily true or a "what colonies is he referring to?" non sequitor.
While it is true that the US has more with-gun deaths than the England, it is not clear that North's favored cause is to blame. (For example, murder rates in the UK vary significantly even though the guns laws do not.)
However, rather than quibble about gun control, I will take this opportunity to learn more about the UK and/or England. In particular, I would like to know why so many Brits have less than two feet.
What am I talking about? North tells us that the with-gun murder rate difference is due to the number of guns, so surely the same is true of murder with other weapons. It turns out that the US also has a much higher rate of "with feet" murder than the UK and/or the UK. The difference is so large that North's theory on murder rates tells us that the typical Brit has fewer feet than the typical American.
I am also interested in why so many Brits have less than two hands, which is what the "with fists" murder rate difference tells us. (There is also a huge difference in the "with blunt object" murder rate but I suspect that having fewer hands explains why Brits are less likely to kill with blunt objects. I could be wrong. Are there fewer blunt objects in the UK?)
Of course, if it turns out that Brits have just as many hands and feet as Americans, North's theory seems to have some problems....
I am also curious why English and/or UK smugglers and illegal manufacturers will not supply weapons, unlike their US counterparts. Or, does North want to claim that, unlike the US, illegal substances are not readily available in England and/or the UK?
I note that just as the murder rate in the UK varies independently of gun control, the murder rate in the US also varies. Murder in the US is very concentrated in certain subpopulations, yet gun ownership is not, and the variations in gun ownership are not correlated with the murder rate variations. North's theory suggests otherwise. Maybe the rates are wrong....
Paul Bash - 5/25/2002
While I'm no fan of gun control, using the UK's increase in gun crime in recent years as proof that their gun control doesn't work is simple-minded. First, gun ownership in the UK has been *extremely* restricted for most of the 20th Century. Owning a gun for self protection was almost unheard of. Most privately owned firearms, particularly handguns, were required to be stored unloaded and locked up... in other words inaccessible should the emergency need arise.
The recent increase in gun crime in the UK probably has more to do with increased immigration, hard drug use and increased smuggling of arms from former Eastern Block countries starved for hard cash. An argument can be made that their restrictive gun control policies are preventing the crime wave from dropping, due to lack of arms in the hands of law abiding citizens, but those policies didn't *create* the crime wave in the first place.
Clayton E. Cramer - 5/24/2002
Concerning the higher rates of violent crime in Britain,
see Patrick A. Langan and David P. Farrington, Crime and Justice in the United States and England and Wales, 1981-96 (Washington: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1998). You can read my analysis of it at http://www.claytoncramer.com/Britain.pdf and my account of my 1999 travels to Britain at http://www.claytoncramer.com/VisitingBritain.htm .
Lord North - 5/24/2002
Can you cite any sources for your improbable claims ?
Alec Lloyd - 5/24/2002
Thank you for bringing that up.
The rate of "gun death" is higher in America because SUICIDES are always included in the total figures. Once again, we have the typical numbers-twisting that gun-control supporters love to use.
The US has a comparatively low suicide rate, far lower than countries with strict gun control. The clear conclusion is that if people want to kill themselves, they will use whatever is handy. If there are no guns, they will find alternative means.
It is also interesting to note that since England adopted strict gun control (ostensibly to reduce the amount of guns criminals could have access to) gun crimes have surged. They are fast becoming the weapon of choice and the bobbies, long armed only with a nightstick and a funny hat, are being forced to carry guns themselves.
How do our "common sense" gun control proponents explain this? How can banning guns make them more common IN AN ISLAND NATION? Surely here should be a text-book case of gun control success. Yet England's violent crime rate has already passed that of the US and its murder rate continues to climb. The US murder rate, by contrast, remains in a 30-year decline.
I await a shrill rejoinder with bated breath.
Lord North - 5/24/2002
1. King George III is dead
2. The earth is round, not flat
3. The rate of death from guns is many times
higher in America than in England because
it is much easier for crooks to get their
hands on guns in the colonies.
Jim March - 5/23/2002
"I used to support gun control until I examined the data purporting to back it up. It is a mish-mash of feel-good pseudo-science. I am now firmly in the pro-gun camp. However, not all people have the time and academic resources to do that kind of research and the mass media have little interest in clarifying the issue."
Every person who turns into a pro-self-defense activist goes through this stage :).
In my case, I tried for a carry permit in California after recieving death threats related to my putting up a web page describing fraud against a friend (in 1997). On applying, I was laughed at, treated like a peasant trying to usurp the privileges of my social betters.
Hurt and confused, I found that many other states (29 at the time, if I recall right?) had "shall-issue" gun permit systems, where anybody able to pass objective standards (background checks, training) could score a permit to carry a loaded concealed handgun, and the top cops weren't even allowed to ask about your "good cause for issuance".
It stuck me as a pretty radical concept, and as you say I had no way of doing academic research in the field (I was employed as a computer tech back then). So I emailed a dozen street cops in the various states that already had widespread citizen carry, and asked them what their real-life experiences were.
The overwhelming response was that when they walked up to a car they'd pulled over, and the occupant handed them a driver's license, registration and CARRY PERMIT, the cops breathed a sigh of relief because the criminality rate of such persons was known to be virtually non-existent. Somebody willing to jump through legal hoops to legally do something any gangbanger can do (hide a gun under a jacket) isn't the problem.
I've been an activist for gun permit reform in Calif ever since.
Another way of showing that widespread CCW isn't a problem is to look at news reports from the states where carry is widespread ("Gee, there's no blood in the streets from CCW, who'da thunk it?"). I have a modest collection of these here:
These are just what's come out since I started looking for them a month ago. Three are from the state that most recently reformed (Michigan).
I've also been compiling reports on the problems caused by "discretionary" issuance - racism, corruption, bias, elitism and even nepotism at the highest levels of law enforcement:
And I have a scholarly treatise online about the historical racist links to this sort of gun control, with a focus on the California system:
http://www.ninehundred.com/~equalccw/practicalrace.html - "A Practical Guide To Race And Gun Control"
And more :).
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Thomas Gunn - 5/23/2002
Interesting that you *don't* want to take guns from cops. Is that b/c you believe that guns are necessary to the enforcement of the law?
If the cop *needs* the gun to protect the law, what does the common citizen need to protect himself when the cop is unavailable?
You may enjoy a trip to the Yahoo!? gun board located here.
Alec Lloyd - 5/23/2002
Your assumption is that all governments are completely rational and that they do not have ulterior motives.
A reasoned and logical examination of the facts should demonstrate to even the most hardened skeptic that gun control increases crime. I used to support gun control until I examined the data purporting to back it up. It is a mish-mash of feel-good pseudo-science. I am now firmly in the pro-gun camp. However, not all people have the time and academic resources to do that kind of research and the mass media have little interest in clarifying the issue.
Indeed it is remarkable that despite the constant lies, deception and overpowering emotive appeals (such as commercials featuring the former attorney general citing bogus "child" gun deaths with gunshot sounds in the background) gun control is as unpopular as it is. Perhaps this is because average law-abiding citizens know it is better to be armed than helpless and dependent upon thinly spread police forces.
Of course the other reason England, etc. embrace gun control is that it increases government authority. By eliminating the right to self-defense, the power of the state as sole protector is significantly increased. Continental governments operate on the assumption that rights are granted by the government, not inherent in the individual.
This then leads to passivity in the face of crime, especially when the punishment for defending oneself (as in the celebrated case of the English farmer shooting a burgler) is greater than the punishment meted out to the actual criminal.
A society of armed, vigiliant citizens is the best defense against crime of any sort, but violent crime in particular. Every study has shown that criminals most fear an armed victim and that if they know their victim is armed, they avoid him or her. Concealed carry has the effect of forcing criminals to wonder if every victim is armed, thereby increasing the disincentive to commint violent acts. This is why it reduces violent crime rates so effectively.
The spectre of "Death Valley Days" has been brought up every time a state considers a shall-issue law. It has yet to happen. One would think after the first 10 warnings proved to be false they would have ceased to have much sway. Yet even on this board we see that same tired, empty threat.
J. Bartlett - 5/23/2002
This latest comment shows NRA (= No Reasoning Ability) muddleheadedness in classic form. No sane person is advocating taking guns away from cops. The high rate of gun ownership in Switzerland reflects their higher degree of decentralized military service. If deregulation of guns were the great salvation that NRA mythmakers claim it to be, the Swiss, English etc. would lap it up as quickly as they do Disney movies, Microsoft programs and Big Macs.
Jim March - 5/22/2002
You still don't get it.
Any nation's violence levels are influenced first and foremost by culture. Regardless of WHAT the nation's violence levels are, artificial gun control makes things worse.
That's why Mexico, with gun control even more strict than England, has a murder rate triple the US rate, while the Swiss with higher gun ownership rates than the US (and widespread mandated home ownership of full-auto battle rifles) has a far lower murder rate than the US.
Gun control always makes things worse. It's never a solution. But it's also not the only factor.
OK, let's switch gears. Ever looked at the actual homicide rates in the "Wild West"? It wasn't that bad. Wyatt Earp went through a LONG career as a cop, including six years in Dodge City rising to the top police rank in town, without once ever getting shot or shot AT, until the OK Corral incident at age 45. His only prior combat shooting was at a fleeing bank robber in Kansas, hit him in the arm and the crook lived to stand trial. In comparison, try policing Los Angeles with no radios, no computers, no fingerprint or ballistic matching technology or other modern police resources, and it'll rapidly look like a pizza with the cheese ripped off. Ditto any other major or even medium-sized city, for that matter. Widespread gun ownership and a "culture of personal defense" actually kept a lid on the "wild west" and with those elements mostly gone today after generations of gun control and propaganda, we are in many ways LESS civilized than we were 125 years ago (BARRING racism that is).
Dave E. Croquette - 5/22/2002
Why can't them limies and krauts get it through their cotton pickin' thick skulls that if they would only repeal their racist gun control laws, their crime rates would plummet to the low levels we enjoy here in good ol' Honest Injun territory ?
Jim March - 5/21/2002
I got to this thread via the Bell-liar criticism, which mentioned Clayton Cramer's role in uncovering the reality behind "Arming America".
Cramer is actually best known in gun rights circles for something that had nothing to do with Bell-liar: Clayton blew the lid off of something much older and nastier with his thesis paper, "The Racist Roots Of Gun Control":
http://www.law.ukans.edu/jrnl/cramer.htm (Kan. J.L. & Pub. Pol'y, Winter 1995, at 17)
TRROGC found that much of the state-level gun control in the US is to this day "relics of Jim Crow". California and 6 other states still have "discretionary" permits for lawful gun carry. Florida used to have such a system; Cramer identified a 1941 Florida Supreme Court case in which a white gent was released for packing despite not having a carry permit, and cited Justice Buford in the majority opinion releasing him:
"I know something of the history of this legislation. The original Act of 1893 was passed when there was a great influx of negro laborers in this State drawn here for the purpose of working in turpentine and lumber camps. The same condition existed when the Act was amended in 1901 and the Act was passed for the purpose of disarming the negro laborers and to thereby reduce the unlawful homicides that were prevalent in turpentine and saw-mill camps and to give the white citizens in sparsely settled areas a better feeling of security. The statute was never intended to be applied to the white population and in practice has never been so applied." - Watson v. Stone, 4 So.2d 700, 703 (Fla. 1941)
This sort of thing is not at ALL entirely historical. Cases in California have been identified of current racist patterns in permit issuance. In 1995, the Fresno Bee found that Latino permit issuance in Fresno County was 3%, in a county that's 45% Hispanic per census data. In at least two counties, the towns within the county (Sacramento and Contra Costa) that have the highest minority populations are blanket-excluded from permit issuance per cross-jurisdictional agreements between the PD Chiefs of these towns and the Sheriff - see also "An Open Letter To The Sacramento Sheriff's Office" for a description of one such weirdness:
Some of what's going on in permit issuance is just plain bizarre - the Oakland report on that same page is a good example.
In any case, what Cramer found in 1995 has stronger legal-system implications than anything Bell-liar has come up with - see also "A Practical Guide To Race And Gun Control", 2nd chapter on equal protection and the right to arms:
Upshot: gun control is founded in evil, and has no practical benefit anywhere, including England.
Finally, Mr. Cramer is by no means a "typical gun guy". I've been privileged to be a guest in his home, and meet (and hold) his completely tame backyard pet. A duck. Answers to "Ducky" :). It is hilariously cute.
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Gary Zimmerman - 5/21/2002
Not only did certain crimes increase, England's statistics following the enactment of the handgun ban and other gun control measures show that some *new* criminal trends emerged. Traditional burglaries continued apace, but a new variant - the "home invasion", became more popular. With the armed homeowner threat significantly reduced, criminals became more brazen.
Many criminals also reacted to the new laws by "upgrading" their firearms. The harsh punishment for anyone caught possessing an old 6-shot revolver caused the entirely logical "In for a dime, in for a dollar" (or the English equivalent) response: Now more criminals use military submachine guns and semi-automatic military pistols - both evidently easy to get on the European continent.
Lastly, Bellesiles' use of probate records to support his theories is just about the most foolish thing I've ever heard. Even today, succession papers often list among the assets of the deceased "Miscellaneous other personal belongings and/or home furnishings". Firearms were (and are) passed down - and they don't always appear in the Last Will and Testament.
Bud Wood - 5/20/2002
One might wonder why gun control advocates want to duplicate the success of gun control which was implemented in England a few years ago. As I understand, homicides stayed about the same, but armed robberies and similar armed crimes escalated as gun control became a reality. Evidently there was no good regarding homicides but some bad effects in other crimes.
I find it difficult to believe that gun control advocates want the same here. My guess is that most gun control advocates are not criminals; however it seems that gun controls do benefit criminals by disarming potential victims. Also, when a nation with very strict gun controls (like Germany) has similar tragedies like some of the USA school shootings, one wonders what gun control really does . . .? Anything good?