Distortions of History: Gun Debate Rhetoric

History Distorted

Please read some of the primary source material before attempting to make comparisons between different eras in history.

Anyone who knows me realizes that I have issues with extremism on practically any issue.  It’s easy to over indulge on things you like, but in life we also realize that we have the ability to stomach things we dislike.  Even if someone uses the phrase “all or nothing,” when you think about it most likely you won’t receive everything and you will still possess something.

I may not hunt, but I have no issues with people who do hunt.  As I’ve written here and those who know me remember, I’d rather eat seafood than game and find it more relaxing holding a fishing pole, tossing a cast net, marching in hip boots to check crawfish traps, and even doing the necessitated repairs on crab nets and shrimp trawls than sitting in a deer stand or tracking some animal through the woods.  I have no issues with private gun ownership.  I still have the same proficiency at still targets that I had as a kid; I’m lucky if I can hit the side of a barn.  Yet just like when we had that hunter safety session back in junior high, and this non squirrel hunter shattered both of his skeet with that 20 Gauge and then or now I can still pick a swimming or slithering cottonmouth with a .22 long before it gets into striking range.

A gun is a tool.  When used correctly, it can be of extreme benefit.  When used incorrectly or carelessly, the consequences aren’t a smashed thumb like when you make a common mistake with a hammer but the releasing of deadly force regardless of degree of mistake.  Still, it’s not the guns that kill nor is it the ammo; it is the person who pulls the trigger or somehow created a situation where the gun fires whether intentionally or not.  Practically any tool can be deadly in the wrong hands.  We all understand that.  The vast majority of us take extra precautions with tools which are more powerful because we know they require extra skill to complete our task and that they can cause more damage if we get careless.  To me that practice is common sense.

It is coming from both sides, but I have recently seen more from pro gun advocates regarding this matter.  They cite all of these examples from “history” to “prove” the dangers of gun regulations.  One issue I have is that I agree that guns do not kill people.  People kill people so how does either arming or disarming a population directly correlate to killing?  Also, let’s be practical for a minute about all these claims that if government did not disarm the people, the people could resist a tyrannical government.  Numerous “historical” claims are made.  Some of the most frequent seem to be NAZI Germany, the USSR under Stalin, and China under Mao.  Seriously, how many handguns or shotguns would it take to defend oneself against a tank or a plane?  In the US today, would you and your neighbors stand together with either semi-automatic or automatic rifles and expect to stop the weaponry at the disposal of our military?

Those questions aside, many of the “historical” references made are skewed, many absurd, and many blatant lies.  Ignore the rhetoric, throw away the Pop History, and actually read some of the works written by historians.  Again, do not trust their accounts just because the author has a degree or degrees in history.  Examine the citations and read the primary material for yourself.  I’ve commented on a few examples given from US history in other outlets.  The examples used by people to justify both gun ownership and gun control were complete fiction in terms of history.

Here, I’m just going to give you a link to a journal article from 2004 which offers some examples and supplies material for additional inquiry regardless of your position.  At one time I used to have this article listed in a bibliographical catalog which has become scattered after many moves and even more reference expansions.  How one of my mentors kept years and years of bibliographic references on 3 X 5 cards organized in a multitude of shoe boxes amazes me more than how he remembered the authors of so many works in professional conversations.  Thankfully one of my ole grad school friends; a collector of classic firearms, military veteran, and avid hunter had the Turabian styled citation of this article embedded in his brain.  His fear is that all of the self-proclaimed defenders of the 2nd Amendment are actually hurting the rights of responsible gun owners with their rhetoric and distortions of the facts.  I agree with that ugly ole hardheaded mule, and think it applies to everyone regardless of your personal opinion on the matter.