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America's Fascination with Firearms
The World & I ^ | October 2003 | David B. Kope

Posted on 10/11/2003 3:25:35 PM PDT by quidnunc

The rigors of the country's frontier led to the proliferation of firearms and a deeply ingrained pro-gun culture.

Unlike most of the world's people, many Americans view the possession of firearms as the norm rather than the exception.

The European and Japanese feudal aristocracies loathed firearms, because they eliminated the role of the nobility in combat. Firearms democratized warfare, penetrated armor, and allowed fighting from a distance, thereby greatly reducing the importance of the nobility's old skills with swords in close combat. In Japan and much of Europe, the aristocracy promoted laws restricting or prohibiting the possession of firearms, especially handguns, by common people.

In continental Europe and England, hunting was tightly controlled by the aristocracy. Common people were often forbidden even to kill a rabbit that was eating their crops on their own land. No sane governor or legislature in the American colonies would have attempted to impose European-style hunting or gun-control laws, for such repressive laws would have made it impossible for much of the American population to survive.

Colonial laws generally required each household to possess a firearm, for service in the militia and other civil defense. Households that could not afford a gun were often given "public arms" by the government to keep at home.

Other English colonies did not have as rough a frontier as the United States did. Canada's white settlement was mostly peaceful, thanks to careful government negotiations with the indigenous peoples. Nor did Canada have a "Wild West" like the United States, where citizens ubiquitously carried handguns for protection, in the absence of effective law enforcement. In Canada, though, the Mounted Police showed up when the first railroad towns were being built. Order was imposed from above.

Fight for independence

The American Revolution was in part assisted by America's already well-developed gun culture. The United States won independence through a sustained armed popular revolt, as the Swiss (armed with crossbows) had done beginning in 1291, when the first three cantons battled for freedom from Austria.

Of the approximately 400,000 American men in active service against Great Britain during the Revolution, the militia amounted to about 165,000. Although the militiamen turned in some miserable performances, such as when those from Virginia fled at Camden, South Carolina, in 1780, the irregular forces, when supported by the Continental Army, could fight effectively. For example, they did splendidly in the 1781 Battle of Cowpens, South Carolina — the turning point of the war in the South — which set the stage for the coup de grace at Yorktown, Virginia.

The militia played a major role in defeating Gen. John Burgoyne's 1777 Saratoga campaign, which had tried to isolate New England from the rest of the United States. In 1778–79, the Kentucky militia, led by George Rogers Clark, captured key British posts on the Wabash River in the future states of Indiana and Illinois. The victories helped legitimize America's claim to all British territory east of the Mississippi, a claim that Britain eventually recognized in the 1783 peace treaty.

In Washington's Partisan War: 1775–1783 , Mark W. Kwasny examines George Washington's use of the militias in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. The scholar writes that while those forces could not by themselves defeat the Redcoats in a pitched battle, the irregulars were essential to American success: "Militiamen were available everywhere and could respond to sudden attacks and invasions often faster than the army could." Washington "used them in small parties to harass and raid the army and to guard all the places he could not send Continentals."

As the war came to an end, Washington wrote in his 1783 "Circular to the States" : "The Militia of this Country must be considered as the Palladium of our security, and the first effectual resort in case of hostility."

-snip-

(Excerpt) Read more at davekopel.org ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News
KEYWORDS: bang; banglist
QUOTE:

But what most distinguishes the American gun culture even from the countries such as Canada — which has a very strong hunting tradition and rate of rifle ownership nearly as high as the U.S. level — is that Americans connect gun ownership not just to recreation but to survival and sovereignty. Because about half of all American households own guns, America's "home invasion" burglary rate is far lower than in countries such as Britain, Canada, Ireland, and the Netherlands, which prohibit defensive gun ownership.

1 posted on 10/11/2003 3:25:36 PM PDT by quidnunc
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2 posted on 10/11/2003 3:27:41 PM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: quidnunc
Correction: The author's name should read "David B. Kopel"
3 posted on 10/11/2003 3:28:22 PM PDT by quidnunc (Omnis Gaul delenda est)
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To: quidnunc
Super article. Thanks.
4 posted on 10/11/2003 3:31:16 PM PDT by Captiva (I really DISLIKE Pedro Martinez)
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To: quidnunc
Because about half of all American households own guns, America's "home invasion" burglary rate is far lower than in countries such as Britain, Canada, Ireland, and the Netherlands, which prohibit defensive gun ownership.

Especially if you plaster NRA, S&W and Ruger decals on your windows and doors.

5 posted on 10/11/2003 3:35:52 PM PDT by facedown (Armed in the Heartland)
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To: facedown
Amen ... funny but no one ever puts up a gun-free household sign in their windows.
6 posted on 10/11/2003 3:38:57 PM PDT by Centurion2000 (Virtue untested is innocence)
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To: quidnunc
Furthermore, firearms insured not only the elimination of the aristocracy, but its CONTINUED demise. Those who would outlaw guns are the biggest elitists of all. They know their precarious position at the top of the social order has no roots in excellence, and that their arrogance can do to them what it did to Marie Antoinette.
7 posted on 10/11/2003 3:40:16 PM PDT by IronJack
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To: quidnunc
America was settled by people who fled tyranny the world over.

Canada was settled by clerks sent by those aforementioned tyrants.

That's the basic difference.

L

8 posted on 10/11/2003 3:42:41 PM PDT by Lurker ("To expect the government to save you is to be a bystander in your own fate." Mark Steyn)
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To: Centurion2000
...no one ever puts up a gun-free household sign in their windows.

It should be required as part of membership in the Brady Bunch, etc. as well as for any pol who votes for gun control legislation.

I know, but I can dream!

9 posted on 10/11/2003 3:43:14 PM PDT by facedown (Armed in the Heartland)
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To: quidnunc
Great article!

Thanks.
10 posted on 10/11/2003 3:43:24 PM PDT by MonroeDNA (Please become a monthly donor!!! Just $3 a month--you won't miss it, and will feel proud!)
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Comment #11 Removed by Moderator

To: Centurion2000

Wonder why that is. You'd think they'd be proud of the fact that others besides themselves are discouraging crime in their neighborhoods.

12 posted on 10/11/2003 3:50:43 PM PDT by Cultural Jihad
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Comment #13 Removed by Moderator

To: Centurion2000
Here's what I put on my doors:


14 posted on 10/11/2003 4:05:55 PM PDT by Sender
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To: quidnunc
Clarity of thought bump.
15 posted on 10/11/2003 4:06:55 PM PDT by Madame Dufarge
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To: *bang_list
Bang!
16 posted on 10/11/2003 4:14:31 PM PDT by Ches (Mrs.)
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To: quidnunc
But what most distinguishes the American gun culture even from the countries such as Canada — which has a very strong hunting tradition and rate of rifle ownership nearly as high as the U.S. level — is that Americans connect gun ownership not just to recreation but to survival and sovereignty. Because about half of all American households own guns, America's "home invasion" burglary rate is far lower than in countries such as Britain, Canada, Ireland, and the Netherlands, which prohibit defensive gun ownership.

That says it all.

17 posted on 10/11/2003 4:25:33 PM PDT by NRA2BFree (Politicians and criminals want your guns for the same reason! They want control while robbing you!)
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To: LibertyThug; Akira
bump for later reading
18 posted on 10/11/2003 4:41:20 PM PDT by Akira ("Experience is a hard teacher, but fools will have no other." - Ben Franklin)
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To: Centurion2000
I'm in the middle of reading a book called "Judgement Ridge"about the murder of the Zantops of Dartmouth College in January,2001.

Prior to the murder the two killers tried to enter the home of an Andrew Patti who kept them out by pointing a gun at the young man at the front door. After the murders he said that he would have been dead if he hadn't owned a weapon.
19 posted on 10/11/2003 4:50:10 PM PDT by Mears
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To: quidnunc
I don't know why, but I have always loved guns. Right now, I prefer Smith & Wesson revolvers with the pinned barrels and recessed chambers, something Smith hasn't made since the 80's. Colt Pythons are nice, too.

Irony is that in CA, they outlawed some of these venerable old guns because the manufacturers wouldn't submit copies for testing. Now, unless you can find a private party desiring to sell, you can't buy. Dealers have them. You just can't buy. Go figure.

20 posted on 10/11/2003 6:05:35 PM PDT by wheelgunguru
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To: Mears
America's Fascination with Freedom...

Awesome...
21 posted on 10/11/2003 6:06:25 PM PDT by Flavius
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To: quidnunc
Gun owner: Citizen.
Non gun owner: Subject.

I'll be putting my NRA sticker on the car tonight. As for liberals, I wonder how many of them would put a sticker on their car that says "I don't own guns! I am a sitting duck!"
22 posted on 10/11/2003 6:14:38 PM PDT by VRWCRick
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To: quidnunc
In Missouri the politicians and police chiefs state they are apprehensive about the concealed carry law.

Just think how frightened the car jackers and mugger perps must be?

Politicians, police and criminals as allies? But I guess the truth is still pertinent today of the old adage that, "politics makes for strange bedfellows."
23 posted on 10/11/2003 6:27:20 PM PDT by Ursus arctos horribilis ("It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!" Emiliano Zapata 1879-1919)
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To: quidnunc
many of these citizens carry their guns more frequently since September 11. They know that in case of a terrorist attack on a shopping center, school, church, or synagogue,
Wasn't there a fairly recent case of a potential mass shooting at a college in Virginia (I think) that was quickly stopped by someone with CCW & weapon ? Seem to remember the latter part was not widely reported.
24 posted on 10/11/2003 7:49:26 PM PDT by 1066AD
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To: 1066AD
I think you're referring to what's alluded to in the 7th paragraph of the following story by John Lott.
http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/editorial/6431396.htm
25 posted on 10/11/2003 10:55:46 PM PDT by neverdem (Say a prayer for New York both for it's lefty statism and the probability the city will be hit again)
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To: facedown
bttt
26 posted on 10/11/2003 11:20:25 PM PDT by BenLurkin (Socialism is Slavery)
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To: 1066AD
Change the previous comment to the following:

I think you're referring to what's described in the 7th paragraph of the following story by John Lott.
http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/editorial/6431396.htm

Mr. Lott wrote "More Guns, Less Crime" and "The Bias Against Guns". I haven't read either of those books, but I have read a good deal of his other articles and find them persuasive.

Unfortunately, he said he lost all the raw data for the latter book when his computer "crashed", this data reportedly the result of telephone calls, which many regard as a "dog ate my homework" excuse, and he is alleged to have written very favorable reviews for that book at Amazon.com under a pseudonym, IIRC.
27 posted on 10/11/2003 11:21:50 PM PDT by neverdem (Say a prayer for New York both for it's lefty statism and the probability the city will be hit again)
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To: Lurker
Skin counters.
28 posted on 10/12/2003 12:53:28 AM PDT by Atchafalaya
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To: IronJack
ie: California!
29 posted on 10/12/2003 12:55:28 AM PDT by Atchafalaya
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To: Atchafalaya
Aside from the entrenched "old money" of the East Coast, there is no more stratified backwater of our society than in California. It is there that the caste system is most pronounced, although the only entrance requirement is money. Not coincidentally in a subculture so marked by ill-deserved social stratification, gun control laws are the most onerous. They are in a league with New York's and Massachusetts' -- the East Coast bastions of which I spoke earlier.

IronJack's First Law of Gun Control: Where elitism flourishes, gun control is strictest.

30 posted on 10/12/2003 7:04:52 AM PDT by IronJack
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To: facedown
"Especially if you plaster NRA, S&W and Ruger decals on your windows and doors."

Maybe...or maybe it just means they target you specifically and make sure to come when you're not home so they can get your guns. OR, if they know you're ready, they'll be sure to enter "HOT" because the surprise factor favors them.

I have gun stuff on my minivan because that makes a potential encounter on the road a much dicier proposition and it has worked for me on quite a few hairy situations while vacationing in rural and remote areas, but I leave the "Property Protected by Smith and Wesson" placards off my home! I usually back my car into the driveway so those car decals aren't so readily visible.

31 posted on 10/12/2003 7:06:53 PM PDT by ExSoldier (My other auto is a .45!)
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To: quidnunc
The federal and state constitutions have helped develop a "rights consciousness"

I understand what he means, but can't hurt to clarify that this sounds a bit like getting the cart before the horse. It's my understanding that the USSR also had a pleasant-sounding list of rights in their constitution. Let's not forget that our Bill of Rights was originally meant as a restriction on Congress.

I suggest as a better starting point for "rights consciousness":

Another point of view, from Federalist #84:
32 posted on 10/13/2003 7:31:29 AM PDT by slowry
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