Saturday, May 3, 2008

Selectively Reading history.

In the debate over on Huffpo, the traditional Bellisiles based claim that 'firearms were rare and expensive so the Gov't armed most of the militia was made'. I asked for a source and was given by a different poster this quote from Henry Knox in 1794:

"The deficiency of arms cannot be more forcibly exemplified than that, to arm the militia lately called into service, estimated at fifteen thousand, the number of ten thousand arms have been issued from the public Arsenals. Loss and injury must be expected to arise upon the articles issued."

This would make it seem that 'only' 5,000 out of 15,000 volunteers came w/ their own arms. Looking up the quote in the Congressional Annals (3rd congress, Appendix pg. 1399) shows the statement, when taken w/ the rest of the report, in a different context altogether:

"The numbers comprehended in the act, from eighteen to forty-five years of age, inclusively, deducting the exempts and mariners, may be estimated probably at about four hundred and fifty thousand men. Of these, probably not one hundred thousand are armed as the act requires, although a greater number might be found of common and ordinary muskets without bayonets."

So, Knox was NOT saying that 10,000 men showed up w/o firearms but that they did not meet the standards of the 1792 Militia Act, notably a Musket/Firelock/Rifle, Bayonet, and no less than 24 rounds. He also recommended that manufactures should be established in the US to increase the number of suitable firearms available.

So we had the Founding Fathers recommending that people should own not only hunting rifles but military grade firearms and that the laws should be strengthened to make people do so.

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