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Arming America: the Origins of a National Gun Culture

by Bellesiles, Michael A.

  • ISBN: 9780375701986
  • ISBN10: 0375701982

Arming America: the Origins of a National Gun Culture

by Bellesiles, Michael A.

  • List Price: $16.00
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Vintage Books USA
  • Publish date: 01/01/2002
  • ISBN: 9780375701986
  • ISBN10: 0375701982
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Description: Beginning with the European tradition from which the American colonists emerged, Bellesiles indicates that ordinary people had virtually no access to or training in the use of firearms, and that guns appeared in small numbers in the first colonies and were rarely used in interpersonal violence. It was swords, axes, and fire that were most commonly used against the Indians, and the few guns that did exist were kept under strict control by colonial governments - with weapons kept in some central place to be produced only in emergencies, or on muster day, or loaned to individuals living in outlying areas.

Bellesiles shows that there was a huge surge of interest in hunting in the 1820s and 30s on the part of urban middle-class and elite men, and in the 30s the word "manly" increasingly became linked with gun use. During the 1840s violence increased as well, especially violence inspired by slavery and racism in general. By the mid-1850s technological advances, such as Colt's revolver and Smith & Wesson's repeating revolver with self-contained bullets, contributed to a surge of gun manufacturing. But it was the soaring gun production and the industrialization encouraged by the Civil War era -- and the decision to allow soldiers to keep their weapons at the end of the war -- that transformed the gun from a seldom-needed tool to a perceived necessity and fostered an emotional connection between man and weapon.

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