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March 24, 2013

Gun Thread (3-24-2013)

A Reminder of What We're Up Against

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past. ~ George Orwell, 1984

As a callback to that stupid "Earth Hour" thing last night, please allow me to veer from the topic of guns for a brief second to talk about sticks ... particularly, Michael Mann & Co.'s "Hockey Stick" graph. Everyone always focuses on the blade of the graph, where the temperature is shown going up, Up, UP, but the real magic of this particular piece of fraud is in the handle. That's where Mann erased the medieval warm period and the little ice age to make it look like current temperatures are out of line with historical norms.

About the same time time Mann was concocting this fiction, an "historian" named Michael Bellesiles was engaged in a similar effort with firearms. Bellesiles sought to make today's level of gun ownership look unprecedented by erasing the record of America's historical level of gun ownership using methods that were farcical when they weren't outright fraud (see the explanation by Ross McKitrick, co-breaker of the Hockey Stick, beginning on page 23 of this PDF for a brief but devastating explanation). This passage is among my favorite things ever:

Bellesiles claimed to have examined hundreds of San Francisco probate records from the 1850s. When confronted with the fact that all the San Francisco probate records had been destroyed in the 1906 earthquake, Bellesiles claimed that he obtained them from the Contra Costa County Historical Society. But the Society stated that it did not possess the requisite records. Bellesiles soon resorted to ad hominem, claiming that the amateur critics could not be trusted because they lack credentials.

Maybe Michael Bellesiles is Michael Mann?

Unlike Mann, whose work is worshipped and protected by the Gaia cult, Bellesiles' fraud was uncovered, and his study was tossed in the wastebin. But human beings' capacity for self-delusion is a powerful thing, it seems.

I've been wanting to talk about Bellesiles in a gun thread for a while, and in doing the research, I almost fell out of my chair when I ran across this piece in the notorious right-wing publication Inside Higher Ed.

It may be the most striking and provocative bit of prose concerning a scholarly book to have circulated in some while. The passage in question runs to one paragraph appearing about two-thirds of the way down the page of a note accompanying the page proofs for 1877: America’s Year of Living Violently by Michael A. Bellesiles, to be published by the New Press in August. Here it is:
A major new work of popular history, 1877 is also notable as the comeback book for a celebrated U.S. historian. Michael Bellesiles is perhaps most famous as the target of an infamous ‘swiftboating’ campaign by the National Rifle Association, following the publication of his Bancroft Prize-winning book Arming America (Knopf, 2000) -- ‘the best kind of non-fiction,’ according to the Chicago Tribune -- which made daring claims about gun ownership in early America. In what became the history profession’s most talked-about and notorious case of the past generation, Arming America was eventually discredited after an unprecedented and controversial review called into question its sources, charges which Bellesiles and his many prominent supporters have always rejected.

These sentences have absorbed and rewarded my attention for days on end. They are a masterpiece of evasion. The paragraph is, in its way, quite impressive. Every word of it is misleading, including “and” and “the.”

Read the whole thing. Even though the author clearly is on the opposite side of this issue than I am, he at least doesn't resort to the machinations that Bellesiles did to get there. And read that McKitrick piece, too. Then consider that people (like the publisher interviewed in the IHE piece) defend Bellesiles to this day. Like modern environmentalism, hating guns and, by extension, gun owners and the NRA is a matter of faith on the left.

Gun Of The Week

(answer below)

Marksmanship Award

Gun Of The Week - Answer

That's the Colt Model 1905 in .45 ACP. Even the great John M. Browning made a prototype every now and then.

Senate votes 53-46 to stop US from joining UN Arms Trade Treaty

Money quote:

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said he thought it was irresponsible to be considering major foreign policy decisions at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Funny, I'd have thought Bob Menendez would be most comfortable engaging in foreign relations around that time.

Pro Tip

Hickock45 on how NOT to shoot a semi-automatic pistol.


If there are topics you're interested in seeing in the gun thread, please send them to AoSHQGunThread at gmail. You can also send them to me on Twitter at @AndyM1911.

Defend the Second Amendment. Join: The National Rifle Association * Gun Owners of America * The National Shooting Sports Foundation * Your state's second amendment org.

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posted by Andy at 10:12 AM

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