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By Miguel A. Faria, Jr MD

Like it or not — and many on the leftward side of the political spectrum don’t — firearms and civilian gun ownership have been part of our history and culture since before the nation’s founding and have become as American as mom and apple pie. May it ever remain so for lawful citizens. Not that my assertion based on historical reality would be accepted by many undaunted public health researchers and others dedicated to civilian disarmament.

The foes of civilian firearm ownership have a long and sordid record of revising history to fit their anti-gun narratives.

One researcher, an Emory University professor and Bancroft Prize winner, Michael A. Bellesiles, faked historical data to “prove” in his now discredited book Arming America: The Origins of a Natural Gun Culture that widespread gun ownership in early America was really a fiction.

Bellesiles contended that guns were, in fact, uncommon in the civilian population during the colonial and early periods of the Republic. Consequently, most Americans weren’t proficient with guns.

Bellesiles argued, citing non-existent probate court records, that widespread firearm use by the civilian population occurred only after the Civil War and that was only because the mass production of firearms had lowered to cost in owning one.

Only one of Bellesiles’ contentions was correct; that mass production decreased the cost of firearms while increasing their quality and accuracy. The rest of his argument was fabricated mendacity. His conclusions were wishful thinking, tailor-made for the liberal intelligentsia who opposed civilian gun ownership and received his book with great fanfare, and enthusiastically supported the great revelation he produced.

Yet Bellesiles’ conclusions, which contradicted well-known facts of American history, were preposterous for anyone with even a modicum of historical knowledge. How could early Americans survive the wilderness without possessing firearms and not be proficient in their use? How could colonists on the frontier, subject to Indian raids, protect their families? How could the colonial militia be ready at a moment’s notice not only to repel Indian raids but also to join with the British army in fighting in the French and Indian War (1756-1763), as Colonel George Washington and his militia did?

Most astounding of all, how could the celebrated event in American history we now refer to as Patriot’s Day (April 19, 1775) have taken place without the availability and familiarity with firearms? How could the minutemen, summoned by Paul Revere in his famous ride, assemble so quickly and with their muskets to fire “the shot heard around the world”? Why would American patriots prevent the British army’s attempt to disarm them and seize the arm depots at Concord, while passing by Lexington in the colony of Massachusetts? How could they have harassed the Redcoats all the way back to Boston if they were unarmed?

Bellesiles’ preposterous attempt at historical revisionism was truly audacious. Only an anti-gun “scholar” with a supreme capacity for arrogance and hubris would have even attempted this kind of fraud, but such dishonesty was only an illogical extension of the politicized “research that we have been exposing all along.

So, it didn’t take long for scholars to prove that Bellesiles’ “reseach” was fraudulent and his conclusions fabricated. His book a bag of lies conceived to reach the preordained conclusions that the American gun culture was actually a relatively new phenomenon, the result of a tragic civil war and an overabundance of cheap mass-produced weapons.

Bellesiles’ mendacity cost him his reputation, his coveted Bancroft Prize, and his position at Emory University, which is sadly also the alma mater for my post-doctoral neurosurgical training.

Foes of firearm ownership and the right to keep and bear arms lie often when the topic is guns. What they don’t know, they make up, whether in the media, popular culture, or academia. That’s how far the common denominator has fallen — in academics, entertainment, and in politics.


Miguel A. Faria, Jr, MD is a retired professor of Neurosurgery and Medical History at Mercer University School of Medicine. He founded Hacienda Publishing and is Associate Editor in Chief in Neuropsychiatry and World Affairs of Surgical Neurology International. He served on the CDC’s Injury Research Grant Review Committee. This article is excerpted, updated, and edited from his book, America, Guns, and Freedom: A Journey Into Politics and the Public Health & Gun Control Movements.




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  1. Lying can be costly, “Bellesiles’ mendacity cost him his reputation, his coveted Bancroft Prize, and his position at Emory University”
    Burger King doesn’t make whoppers this big!

  2. Which is why so many of them want to erase what they cannot rewrite and they’ll leave only the likes of this book and CNN as record.

    • “…and they’ll leave only the likes of this book and CNN as record.”

      That’s what it is for, to be cited down the road as ‘scholarly research’ to ‘prove’ guns weren’t common in the colonial era.

      It will be cited as proof some years later when the Leftist Scum finally have a majority on the SCotUS for dismantling the 2A… 🙁

  3. And just yesterday on TTAG:
    Florida Rep. Michelle Salzman Threatens GOP Hispanic Group After Constitutional Carry Video Is Made Public
    She told/exposed the truth and then says she is not embarrassed about what she said, but pitches a fit about being recorded.

    • F%^&*ing RINO’S are worse than democrats, at least with dems you know where they stand. RINO’S get into office and it’s almost impossible to get them out.

      • You ain’t kidding. I hate rinos more than dems.
        At least a dem will stab you when your looking unlike the backstabbing rinos.

  4. Professor Bellesiles was obviously an adherent to the old adage, “If you can’t bedazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.”

    • Not to mention that whole Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America thing. Guess they forgot that.

  5. “…firearms and civilian gun ownership have been part of our history and culture since before the nation’s founding and have become as American as mom and apple pie.”

    For some, THIS is exactly why they see the US as racist to the core with no redemption possible. These people know this and have accepted it. THAT’s part of why they fight so hard to destroy this country. THIS is part of the problem.

  6. Bellesiles’ book was published over 25 years ago. Who is citing it today and for what reason? Why is this important today other than a historical reference?

  7. Although the Authors research was proven to be sloppy he did bring up a good point. It is not true every American was armed to the teeth in Colonial times and it is not true that the majority of people were living on the frontier raping, torturing and slaughtering and stealing the Indians land. This was left to actually a minority of people and when the Indians struck back it was the military that went in and practiced mass genocide with overwhelming numbers. Land speculators also had lot to do with the theft of Indian land, George Washington included.

    In fact there were many, many anti-gun laws passed way before the revolution in the bigger cities and these laws were not rescinded after the Constitution was adopted. In fact a recent special on Cable proved the anti-gun laws were kept and began to increase after the Constitution was adopted, proving 2A was and always has been a complete farce and only a “feel good” document not based on reality.

    I think the author was on the right track and it would be interesting if another author or the original author would try again, do better research, and then publish another book if it was true that gun ownership was no where near the level that it has been commonly believed.

    I might add guns have never been cheap to the working man, especially before the industrial age made them less costly. People living in the bigger Colonial cities were often poor immigrants recently arrived where strict gun laws in Europe were the norm even in those times. When one does not need a gun but needs money for food and clothing and rent the author may just have not been all that far off the mark with his book. The only problem is proving it even though common sense certainly seems to indicate that the Author may not have been all that wrong.

    It must be realized that in colonial America in the bigger cities many people had never even seen an Indian let alone feared them so the idea that everyone was armed to the teeth with an expensive hand made item they did not need is really quite ludicrous.

    Yes rural people had guns and used them to supplement their diet but this was not true of city people. And contrary to popular belief many rural people never ever even saw a real live Indian, more on that below. Once again lending credence to the Authors original but unproved assumptions on gun ownership in Colonial America.

    By the way I just finished reading an amazing book on hunting in Pennsylvania and Maryland in the years 1799 to 1859 and the author does not mention ever having even seen a live Indian. He only mentions them once and that was before he was born in the early 1700’s. Yes there were plenty of Indians around during those years but not everywhere. Once they were driven out of areas in the East they moved West and did not return. All this proves that everyone did not have to have guns to protect themselves from marauding Indians when living in the East, that was a farce as the Indians were driven out so fast many Americans again never had the opportunity to even see an Indian let alone fight them.

    Another farce was that the American people supported the Revolution which was a blatant lie. Americans were even more conservative back then then they are today and only 1/3 of the American people supported the revolution. One third were against it and another 1/3 were neutral. One hundred and fifty thousand left the U.S. after the Revolution and went to Canada. That does not seem like a large figure until you realize the white population at that time was less than 2 million with another 1 million slaves.

    U.S. History books have done much to distort Colonial America and the people who lived there at the time, so much so that often foreign people often know more about the real truth about American History than the general population of American know about their own history, especially about the American Revolution.

    I might add that another erroneous belief is that the Eastern U.S. was crawling with Indians before the White man drove them out. In my own home state of Ohio it was almost devoid of Indians during Colonial times (not pre-history ancient times). When the invading whites asked the Iroquois Indians why this was so the Indians rather than tell them the truth and that was that it was used only has their private hunting grounds, not there living area, they decided to play a joke on the Whites. They responded to the Whites question on the lack of Indians in Ohio by telling them that the weather was so bad in Ohio that only Crazy people and or white people would be fool enough to live in Ohio. I think the Indians without realizing it were more truthful than they realized at the time.

    • I would completely agree that not everyone had guns in those days. Just like not everyone has them now. Although the ones that did, had them for much the same reasons people have them today. Some will have them to break things and kill people. Just as they did then. Some will have them for self protection. Just as they did then. There are the ones that hunt. Just like took place then. Then there are the military and police. Just like there was then.

      Humanity has ALWAYS had crazy people just like there will always be poor people.

      • The above is really long, and most people aren’t going to read it.
        To paraphrase: Firearms are useful and good in the public domain. The 2nd amendment is useful and good and needed to protect our rights. Firearms for self defense are needed and useful and good. Government should focus on protecting people’s freedom and liberty, not passing endless laws back and forth limiting each other’s political faction.

        • Wow. No ad hominem insults to open, respectfully written, to the point, concise, correct, true and well spoken. Refreshing. Now who are you and what have you done with our real dacian? 😉

      • See my paraphase above. Also, take note that there is too much “colonialism” talk and “America Hate” by people who want to simultaneously move here, complain about America, but somehow, don’t want to leave. So I’d take all the “colonialism” talk with a grain of salt. American is a great place, amazing place, and that is why so many people want to come here. And to the people that were already here complaining, America is a great place, amazing place, and that is why those people don’t want to leave. They are just complainers, so don’t bother with them. The vast majority of the Indian’s were assimilated and genetically combined with the people here. People ask where the indians went? – They are here, mixed with the white man. The white men here aren’t completely white either. Yet nobody says – where are all the real whites? Did they die out? It’s all nonsense and leftist identity politics. The reality is – the people here are both indian and white. And that is where the indians and the whites went.

        • Nah, not possible. In order to be a mother OR a father, dacian the stupid would have to have sexual congress with another actual human being. No man OR woman in their right mind would submit to that (unless the nameless, brainless troll, or MinorIQ, want to volunteer).

    • Dacian, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    • How did I know the site commie would have something to say about this? Like several other commenters, I didnt bother past the 1st couple lines of his drivel. Its no different than all the other cut and paste Chinese propaganda he posts.

      • , I like how he says the mentally ill are only a danger to themselves then calls everyone with an AR a lunatic that only wants blood.
        Maybe dacian could explain the difference between mentally ill and lunacy.
        I suppose lunatics with mental illness are only dangerous during a full moon?

        • dacian likes to argue, he would argue the sun rises in the west if you said it rises in the east ,then he would tell you your an ignorant uneducated moron because it would if we lived on Venus .

        • What will happen to his fellow traveler Miner who recently admitted to owning an AR15? For a start no more scripture (Marx) quoting sessions.

    • dacian…

      so much of your BS that we would need a back ho to move it all, but this exemplifies your BS…

      It is not true every American was armed to the teeth in Colonial times (to note: this is not something that has never been true)

      and every American today is not armed to the teeth either.

      So lets get this straight; You take an author that deliberately lied in his book and ‘research’, manufactured ‘research’, got caught at it and was completely discredited and now you want to support that author with your BS using contrived verbiage you copied from some place else to tell us how much you hate the constitution, and disrespect the victims of violence you claim to be speaking for by putting forth further bogus information ignoring the facts.

      Why don’t you go back to playing with your ‘Speak-n-Spell’, maybe the cow will go mooo for you this time.

      • correction: “(to note: this is not something that has never been true)”

        should have been: (to note: this is something that has never been true)

    • dacian, the DUNDERHEAD. No one has ever said that all Colonial Americans were armed to the teeth.

      You love to make wild assertions to try to make your radical anti-gun opinion sound “logical”. Unfortunately as usual you have fallen flat on your face with your ludicrious assertion.

      You again make a wild assertion about American History. You must have read some pretty wild Lefty slanted books or taken some courses taught by a Lefty like yourself. The only thing you are good for is Leftist propaganda

    • Shorter dacian the stupid,

      “Yeah, Bellesiles was a lying propagandist, who FAKED his research, lied, and wrote an idiotic, ahistorical trope, and got caught. But he revealed a HIGHER TRUTH – me and my fellow Leftist/fascists hate guns . . . in the hands of conservatives and libertarians.”

      Eff off, dacian the stupid. Your rant is, like ALL of your rants, ahistorical, inaccurate, uneducated, Leftist wishcasting. I would say, “Try again, and do better next time”, but (i) no one on this blog give one s*** about your idiot opinions, and (ii) you are incapable of doing better.

      Hie thyself off to the cable, and the pounding of salt.

  8. My Father and several cousins were on my home town Police force in Massachusetts. I remember a major issue that came up about the “Blue Laws” that were still on the books, (late 60’s). Many of these laws were obsolete, but many, (Democrats – go figure), in state government wanted to enforce them, so one cousin, who was the Chief of Police at the time, decided that our town would enforce the “Blue Law” that required every Male own and then carry their musket to Church on Sundays. That law was passed in the mid 1600s, and soon after start of enforcing the Musket law, the law that banned selling groceries on Sunday was repealed. Don’t know if the law requiring ownership of a Musket is still on the books, but hope somebody would do some digging.

  9. That book must be chock full of industrial grade, embarrassingly obvious guano for a liberal college to revoke an award.

  10. When it comes to Democrats and Republicans our goal should not just be getting the people who vote our way into the legislature, but also to change the entire debate so that even the wrong people feel they must vote the right way. Gun control should become not just “the third rail” of politics, it should be the “electric chair” of politics.

  11. He published fake research and paid the price. Good riddance. Even if his premise, that firearms were rare prior to the Civil War, that ended in 1865 which means we would still have a history of common ownership going back more than 150 years.

    • On gunm ownership and the frontier in the late1800’s -“We were more interested in post holes then pistols. A colt pistol was a months wages.”
      Yes more people are armed now and have a larger collection of gunms then they did back in the 1800’s however I dont see his point.
      Is he referring that since Jim Bridger , Daniel Boone, only had one rifle that’s all the modern American should have?

      • Sadly our two indigenous species of peasant, the Western Peasant and the Eastern Peasant, are currently buried under the snow and under the hooves of the Kings Horses, respectively. Tends to tone down the uppittiness somewhat. I hear some of the Eastern variety have just started taking flight though, at least temporarily. Perhaps releasing the dogs next will flush more out, as Lamp stated. But I really hope the Eastern flock stays, at least until the Masked Peasants have been driven from the realm.

  12. If firearms were so expensive in the colonial era, can the nobody had guns fools explain trade muskets? They were cheap enough for traders to give to Indians for a few pelts. Right along with knives, cook pots, blankets, and beads. Those who wanted, or needed guns had them just as people do today. Sure, those who lived in cities may not have felt the need to have a musket, shotgun or rifle, but those who lived in smaller settlements, or out on farms, whether on the frontier, or more settled areas, likely did have some kind of long gun, and possibly a pistol. Just as today, a custom rifle would be expensive, but most gunsmiths of the time made cheaper, less ornate guns for the larger market and those who couldn’t afford fancier guns. There are a number of muskets and rifles from the early colonial and early US time frame still around. I have a couple in my collection. With care because of their age, they are still in function, firing order. 1 of the reasons I try to explain that there is no shelf life or use by date on guns.

    • The trade muskets were cheap because they didn’t take Glock magazines.
      They knew the injuns would be fcked with pro mag.
      ” Wheres the whiskey “

    • He’s full of crap. There wouldn’t have been one single male individual in the country that would’ve headed west, or pioneered/settled anywhere without at least one long arm. None. It was probably their first purchase if they were ‘heading out on the trail’.

  13. Most of the “civilians” in the revolutionary times were indentured or lower class workers, almost 1/2 were female, so this guy is correct in saying that guns were held by a minority. The settler families surely had a long rifle, but a pair of dueling pistols was limited to the upper 1%.

    The working townspeople did not really have guns before the revolution, why would a butcher, baker, candlestick maker need a gun? They were expensive – like a horse was expensive. Most people, even in the old West, walked. They took a train and then a wagon to get where they were going. There are many more firearms today(that is a good thing), just as there are many more horses today.
    Our forefathers realized the importance of firearms and specified them in our BOR, thank God they did.
    We watch too many movies.

  14. Trade muskets were expensive. It took more than a few pelts to get one. It might have taken a majority of the pelts a small tribe(maybe a group of 50) could get in a good season. These “trade muskets” were the prize of the group and were handed down for generations(if the army did not get them). Many Indians would leave the group when the group was re-located to a rez, just to keep his trusty musket, Sharps rifle or repeater.

  15. President Eisenhower was correct. He said it in his final address to the nation. The federal money sent to universities has a corrosive influence. There should be no federal money given to any higher education entity.
    Bellesiles was a federal government employee. Paid with grant $$$.

  16. Actually there was a shortage of firearms on the frontier in the Colonies when the Seven Years war began, Britain flooded them with second hand military arms surplussed from a number of countries. When the French were defeated the weapons remained in the colonies and were then used against Britain during the revolution and additional weapons were imported from France during the war, so at the time of the founding of the United States there were a lot of military arms in addition to the well established civilian firearms industry in states like Pennsylvania and Virginia. There definitely was more firearm ownership before the Seven Years War in the colonies than in Europe but the amount of weapons was not sufficient to fight the French and Indians the way most people seem to think. Anytime a war is declared everyone scrambles to find every weapon possible, same thing happened with the American civil war.


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