Archive for the ‘firearms’ Category

The problem of probate

Or is it really a problem? It was for Michael Bellesiles who lost his career because it was assumed that Arming America was solely based upon that information.purdey

The problem is that “common items” such as hoes don’t show up, but firearms do. Which is “proof positive” that firearms were somehow common.

This neglects the expense that firearms most likely were in pre-industrial revolution, colonial America.  On the off chance that there were gunsmiths cranking out firearms, let alone rifles, we have to address the issue of coming up with metal that would withstand being used as a firearm.  That means any steel would have to be hand forged given the Navigation Acts, in particular the Iron Act of 1750, ban on colonial industry (and Birmingham’s monopoly on firearm manufacture).

My previous post comes up with a budget bespoke firearm going for £2,500 (US$3,115.03 at today’s rate). I would post the top end of the firearm range, and some used Purdeys selling in the range of US$65,000. Now, wouldn’t it make sense for something which would cost roughly US$3,000 to 65,000+ to be listed in probate record over something which might have cost anywhere from a couple of dollars to maybe 100 in modern funds?

Also, which would be more valuable? Obviously, the more expensive firearm.

If we are going to say that gunsmith were common, we have to address the cost of tools on top of the cost of producing metal which could be used in firearm production. I seriously doubt that a rifling lathe could have been produced on the frontier.  That would mean that such a device would have had to have been imported from Europe: those pesky Navigation Acts might have been a factor.

It is common knowledge that rifles were being produced on the frontier, which might have had something to do with a prohibition on industry more than societal factors. While muskets may have been inaccurate, early muzzleloading rifles had more problems than they were worth.

I’m sure expense would have been one of them.

While rifles were the more complex firearm to build, they still were like building clockworks. And we are talking about hand making clockwork in a pre-industrial society.

Which leads to two issues:

  1. Were firearms really common, or luxury items that would have been contested after death?
  2. Were colonial gunsmiths actual full blown firearms manufacturers, or just somebody who fixed broken weapons?

I am under the impression that firearms are one of the great American founding myths since it doesn’t look too good when one realises that independence really came because of a grudge match based upon the Seven Years/French and Indian War (e.g., most firearms used were European manufactured): not colonial superiority of any kind. We have documentation of a lack of firearms and firearms manufacturing capability in colonial North America, which I have mentioned before and in this.

The need to make firearms a common item at the time of the founding is a fundamental key to any attempt to portray the Second Amendment as somehow not relating to the common defence.  The problem is that it is painfully obvious  that firearms were luxury items in preindustrial societies, as anyone familiar with hand made firearms will attest.

I would bet the farm that firearms would be as expensive as a Purdey, if not more so, back then.

That’s why probate records are not reliable.


The Last Hand Gun On Earth

Take an old movie serial, add a new voice over by the Firesign Theatre and you have some very funny stuff.  In this case, the gun loon’s nightmare: Big Brother’s henchmen come for the last handgun on earth.

“To think people used to sleep with these things under their pillows.”

I blame it on the Americans

The BBC has the story that British Transport police to be armed to counter terror threat Armed officers are expected to be deployed mainly in London.

Armed teams of British Transport Police (BTP) are starting to patrol the railways and London Underground to counter terrorism. I’m not so sure that’s a wonderful idea since British terrorists tend to favour bombs rather than firearms. Even if there were that many guns, can you imagine a shootout in a tube stop? That means the deterrence factor for terrorists is practically nil and the real idea is to “reassure” the British public that they are safe with armed coppers. Why does Gene Hunt come to mind here?

Seriously, I’m none to thrilled to have armed police toting machineguns (yes, that’s an H&K MP5 I’m talking about) and pistols.  They may not have the demeanour of Gene Hunt, although Jean Charles de Menezes might disagree with that observation–if he were alive to do so. And while we are assured that it would not be a daily event to see weapons at stations–armed police would be deployed “according to operational need”.

I hope that need isn”t too frequent.  Personally, I would prefer having sniffer dogs making sure there aren’t “suspect devices” in the stations than armed police who think they are Gene Hunt.

And haven’t we run out of David Bowie songs to make series about?

Scores Killed, Hundreds Injured as Paramilitary Extremists Riot


BOSTON – April 20 – National guard units seeking to confiscate a cache of recently banned assault weapons were ambushed on April 19th by elements of a paramilitary extremist faction. Military and law enforcement sources estimate that 72 were killed and more than 200 injured before government forces were compelled to withdraw.

Speaking after the clash, Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage declared that the extremist faction, which was made up of local citizens, has links to the radical right-wing tax protest movement. Gage blamed the extremists for recent incidents of vandalism directed against internal revenue offices.

The Governor, who described the group’s organizers as “criminals”, issued an executive order authorizing the summary arrest of any individual who has interfered with the government’s efforts to secure law and order. The military raid on the extremist arsenal followed widespread refusal by the local citizenry to turn over recently outlawed assault weapons. Gage issued a ban on military style assault weapons and ammunition earlier in the week.

This decision followed a meeting in early April between government and military leaders at which the governor authorized the forcible confiscation of illegal arms. One government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, pointed out that “none of these people would have been killed had the extremists obeyed the law and turned over their weapons voluntarily.”

Government troops initially succeeded in confiscating a large supply of outlawed weapons and ammunition. However, troops attempting to seize arms and ammunition in Lexington met with resistance from heavily-armed extremists. The insurrectionists were apparemtly well-informed of Government plans by the ‘moles’ they had placed deep within Government circles.

During a tense standoff in Lexington’s town park, National Guard Colonel Francis Smith, commander of the government operation, ordered the armed group to surrender and return to their homes. The impasse was broken by a single shot, which was reportedly fired by one of the right-wing extremists. Eight civilians were killed in the ensuing exchange.

Ironically, the local citizenry blamed government forces rather than the extremists for the civilian deaths. Before order could be restored, armed citizens from surrounding areas had descended upon the guard units. Colonel Smith, finding his forces overmatched by the armed mob, ordered a retreat.

Governor Gage has called upon citizens to support the state/national joint task force in its effort to restore law and order. The governor has also demanded the surrender of those responsible for planning and leading the attack against the government troops. Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock, who have been identified as “ringleaders” of the extremist faction, remain at large.

Of course, I found this an amusing take on the whole thing even if it isn’t historically accurate.

Posted 02/09/2009 by lacithedog in firearms, Loyalist, Second Amendment, Tory

Guns in school

I was a victim of school bullying when I was in Kindergarten. A group of bigger boys beat up on me as the teachers watched doing nothing. I wanted to take a toy gun to school the next day for protection, but my mom stopped me. Now, we have kids who want to bring real guns to school for protection. The worst part of this is that the adults are encouraging this.

Additionally, I have been in Juvenile court where the judge says this action should not be allowed. I had a client who carried a gun for protection and actually used it, yet was charged with a crime. The special juvenile gun prosecutor, a life NRA member saw no disconnect in prosecuting this juvenile. My client was sent to Glen Mills for gun crime.

Now, are we allowing rich, white kids to pack heat, yet showing a bias against poor, black kids in the ‘hood are are far more likely to be victims of gun violence? What sort of message is it when a kid is adjudicated delinquent for carrying a gun in self-defence, yet he could have applied for and received a permit to carry that firearm had he been a few years older?

The RKBA crowd have no problem with this, especially since they are the ones ensuring that criminals have unfettered access to firearms. It is no surprise to me that the Second Amendment Foundation’s Alan Gottlieb is a convicted felon. Sure, it’s for a “non-violent offence” (tax evasion), but he’s a felon. The NRA had another slimy type on their board, Sandy Abrams, whose Valley Guns is one of the leading suppliers of crime guns in America, ranking 37 out of nearly 80,000 gun dealers nationwide in total crime guns traced to their stores. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has documented over 900 violations of federal law at Valley Gun, including illegal gun sales.

No wonder these people don’t want gun trace data publicised! But, I digress.

The whole gun rights thing is ludicrous in that it is counterproductive to public safety. And more importantly, the truly law abiding gun owner. I find it amusing that the NRA is trying to discredit the AHSA (American Hunters and Shooters Association), a saner firearms group. I have to admit far more sympathy with AHSA’s approach than the NRA. The AHSA realises that people involved in shooting sports need to be conservation minded and promote sane gun laws. It’s kind of late for me though because urban sprawl has pretty much destroyed most places I can shoot in Eastern PA.

On the other hand, we hear lots of talk of gun rights and dealing with gun crime, but that is coming from organisations that strive to weaken and void firearms laws. The RKBA trumps people’s property rights. In this case, a University can’t have a policy against guns on campus without someone getting upset about it. But, doesn’t someone’s property rights count for something? In this case, a University’s property rights.

No, the illusory right to keep and bear arms trumps people’s other rights. It especially trumps society’s interest in making sure that the streets are safe from the plague of gun violence and its costs to society.