Historical Q&A re: the Gun Ownership in American Pre-Revolutionary Times
From scatterscribe on the D-verse board
When I took my colonial American History class the professor insisted that most pre-revolutinary Americans didn’t have guns. He said they were expensive and it cost money to maintain and the only ones that had them were the militias which were usually kept under lock and key when they weren’t training as thoes in power didn’t trust the people in the mlitias. He also contended that the second amendment for the right to bear arms was meant for the “well regulated militia” and not the average bumpkin farmer. I grew up in northeast Tennessee and happen to a descendant of said bumpkins, so I had questions.
How much truth is there to this? On the surface and at the time it seems to hold some water especially when I sit here and read the amendment for myself. However, I’m not sure. My one question at the time was that if not everyone had guns, what in heavens name did the settlers do when they came up against a bear in the woods. And now that I’m older, what about all that duelling that the upper society in the colonies practiced? *
Chuck Dixon answered
Was your professor that clown who was drummed out of academia for his less-than-factual history of guns in America? Or maybe this is one of those wishful thinking philosophies the left holds onto so dearly.
The prof I referenced above set oyut to prove the theory that America was not founded with the help of firearms and that their ownership was rare. In going over county records in various communities from the Colonial period into the 19th Century he found the exact opposite to be true. Most homes had at least one rifle or musket. Many had one for each male member of the household. But this conflicted with the author’s world view so he ignored any research that didn’t fall in line with his thinking. When caught with his facts down he then defended his work. When further challenged by his peers in the history community he claimed to have lost his notes (apparently he didn’t own a dog). Finally, he was entirely discredited except by the staunchest members of the lunatic left who don’t seem to trade in reality much these days.
Gun ownership was common back in the day. Yes, they were expensive. But they were necessary, particularly to the poor who had no way of scrounging extra meat for the table other than hunting game. And though costly they were less expensive than a horse or cow.
And, yes, militias were well armed. (Visit the governors’ house in Williamsburg, VA. The main hall is stocked with hundreds of rifles.) But most men belonged to the militia as the threat of attack from Indians was very real in the original colonies. So, many men were armed by their local government, usually a patron with lots of cash or land.
And their expense would not be enough to keep them from private ownership by an impoverished citizen. Even the poor can scrape up the money for what’s important or necessary to them. Drive through any trailer park in Florida. You’ll see some mighty fine boats sitting outside many of them. The trailer looks like it’s gonna crumble to a pile of dust. But that boat looks showroom new. **
History can all be very logical sometimes.
source *IP: 188.8.131.52
Posted on July 10, 2004 at 09:09:51 PM
Posted on July 11, 2004 at 11:41:05 AM by Chuck