Joe Doakes from Como Park emails to elaborate on the subject of this piece, assailing the MinnPost’s Eric Black’s participation in the resurrection of the long-forgotten “Second Amendment Was Written To Protect Slavery!” meme:
I forgot about this when I wrote to debunk Carl Bogus’ law review article. Bogus relies for some of his historical evidence about firearms use on Michael Bellesiles, saying:
“Most militiamen were not even good shots. We think of men as having grown up with guns in colonial America. We assume they were sharpshooters by necessity. Did not men have to become proficient with muskets to protect themselves from ruffians and Indians or to hunt to put food on the table? Contrary to myth, the answer, in the main, is no. In reality, few Americans owned guns. When Michael A. Bellesiles reviewed more than a thousand probate records from frontier areas of northern New England and western Pennsylvania for the years 1765 to 1790, he found that although the records were so detailed that they listed items as small as broken cups, only fourteen percent of the household inventories included firearms and [Page 342] fifty-three percent of those guns were listed as not working. In addition, few Americans hunted. Bellesiles writes: “From the time of the earliest colonial settlements, frontier families had relied on Indians or professional hunters for wild game, and the colonial assemblies regulated all forms of hunting, as did Britain’s Parliament.”
You remember Michael Bellesiles? He supposedly studied probate records and found practically nobody owned guns in those days, so he wrote a book called “Arming America” saying the scarcity of private firearms ownership proved the Founding Fathers could not have intended the Second Amendment to refer to private firearms ownership, but must have intended it to refer to government militias.
James Lindgren at Northwestern University writes on The Volokh Conspiracy to remember his work taking Bellesiles down. And I know you remember how Bellesiles claimed to have lost his research notes in a flood.
No serious historian believes Bellesiles today. And to the extent Bellesiles is the foundation for Bogus, no serious legal scholar should believe Bogus, either.
Reading Bogus’ original article, most of the citations are to, well, himself. But listing Bellesisles is about on par with listing Milli Vanilli.
Brian Lambert may now respond with a dismissive, name-calling bit of snark before going back to metaphorically painting Mark Dayton’s toenails.