Michael Bellesiles’ Arming America Still Influencing the Gun Control Debate

At least the evidence leads UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh to that conclusion when he disassembles the Second Amendment chapter of a State Department publication on the “Rights of the People.” Excerpt:

“In many states regulations continued [following the Revolution] prohibiting . . . propertyless whites from owning guns.” I have seen this claim in several places, all of them in the work of Michael Bellesiles. None of those places gave any citations for statutes that actually banned propertyless whites from owning guns. I tried hard to find any evidence of such statutes — none, to my knowledge, exists. To my knowledge, there were no such “regulations,” in any states, much less many states. (Incidentally, it may well be that the author reasonably relied on Bellesiles’ work before it was debunked, as did I; but since the publication is on the Web, one would think that it would be updated to correct the errors that reliance on Bellesiles’ work has yielded.)

“One scholarly study holds that less than 14 percent of the adult white male population, those otherwise eligible to own guns, actually possessed firearms in 1790.” That much is accurate — but that one scholarly study, unless I’m woefully mistaken, is Michael Bellesiles’ now-debunked work. I know of no credible source for such a statistic.”

Yet I’ve seen, over and over, claims that Bellesiles had no political motive in writing his book.

If you believe that, I hold title to this bridge in Brooklyn, and I’ve got a great deal for you on some prime land in the Everglades…

UPDATE: The web site now shows “(The accompanying essay is under review.)”

I LOVE the blogosphere – a functional feedback loop to political correctness!

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