A Short History of Guns in America   (2018Mar01)


Thursday, February 22, 2018                                           11:38 PM

A Short History of Guns in America   (2018Mar01)

If you want to get historical about it—in colonial America, firearms were a survival tool—used for hunting, and even protection from large predators, sure, but just as often required to settle differences between the colonials and the native Americans. Without discussing the ethics of the situation, the bloodshed and friction between the natives and the European colonists went on for centuries. The idea that Americans were at threat only from each other didn’t arrive until the late 1800s.

Also, the colonies weren’t all British at the time, and clashes between colonies (often sea-battles, mostly, between the Nations’ navies, over their harbors and resources) also gave reason for having a weapon close at hand. The French and Indian War (or ‘La guerre de la Conquête’) (1754-1763) was so recently over that George Washington had served in it, prior to the Revolution.

Once the United States had run off their British tyrant, there was concern that the British might return. There was concern that the French, too, might decide to abrogate our self-rule. Worst of all, new-born Americans were most concerned with their own new government becoming a monarchy, or even a tyranny, of its own. After all of their struggles, they were determined to avoid any return of the mistreatments they had suffered under British rule.

Thus the Second Amendment was an insurance policy against losing all that the war had been fought for—the colonial (now state) militias had beaten the British—and they would stay, ‘well-regulated’, as proof against anything that would again threaten Americans’ rights.

There was no question of an early American being ‘allowed’ a firearm—survival required one. It was only in the extremity of growing rebellion that the colonists were forbidden by law to stockpile powder or shot—or manufacture their own. Remember that this was a time in which it was still normal for one guy to ‘run through’ another guy over an argument—just jab a giant pin in his chest—nobody worried about flintlocks or pistols, except as military concerns.

The Second Amendment is about the militia, not the firearms. The arms were simply the equipment required by militiamen. There are other ways of looking at it—and the NRA will be happy to send you a brochure, I’m sure—but that’s the long and short of it, really.

After the Civil War, southern states enacted laws, “Black Codes”, prohibiting African-Americans from owning firearms. In the Roaring Twenties, Thompson Machine guns were outlawed. Gun rights waver in the face of fear—and little wonder—guns create a false sense of security and safety, while in reality making things more dangerous. The only person who is safe, in an armed society, is the person most willing and eager to use it.

We must treasure our traditions—nothing should impede a rural citizen’s right to go out and shoot his family’s meal—and I don’t see anything wrong with shooting ranges either. Statistics show that guns do not protect a home—on the contrary, they cause more trouble than intruders—and more often. But if we really have to, I suppose home security can stay, too—that can become a Darwin Award category, in the fullness of time. Get a Taser, some pepper-spray, and a honking big walking-stick and you can defend yourself against most people—without being convicted of manslaughter.

But beyond those special circumstances, and the normal police and official uses, the average person walks down the street with little cause to expect to be shot at. There are neighborhoods, of course—that’s society—there will always be insular communities—but going to such places is dangerous, armed or otherwise. My point is, I really don’t see the need for a gun. I’m sixty-two—it’s never occurred to me to run out and get a gun. What would I use it for?

Arming teachers is an idiotic notion—for proof, I point to the Florida State Legislature which recently enacted a law to do just that. Don’t be like Florida. Come on.


Leave a Reply