Foes of overly-gunning America sometimes suggest that the only people who can claim a constitutional right to having firearms are those in a militia.
Fans of too many guns like to portray themselves as Minute Men who are the only people standing between jack-booted government thugs and the people.
Both are on the wrong track. The United States has never had a well-regulated militia. When I say this, I am thinking primarily of the various disasters of the militia in colonial days and, especially, during the War of 1812; and of events like the Ludlow massacre.
But also of the drunkenness, violence and general dam-foolishness that were a common feature of militia training days.
I know about the latter because over the past 50 years of miscellaneous reading in American subjects, I many times ran across off-hand remarks indicating that it was a commonplace to refer to the indiscipline of the militia. But I was not taking notes, so you'd have had to take my word for it.
Anybody familiar with American writing of the colonial and early Republic would have encountered the same.
But while following from link to link about another matter, I was led to this brilliant piece by Chris Rodda, senior research director of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. She is debunking the Christian bigot David Barton. And she presents (quoting from old newspapers) evidence of exactly the sort of badly-regulated militia that I referred to:
There were also numerous accidents on militia training days. A good number of these accidents happened during actual training, but many more happened before and after the actual training, and were caused by militiamen playing with their guns and showing off. A frequent cause of these training day accidents was the practice of a group of militiamen going to an officer's house to "give him a gun" or "give him a morning gun," which meant showing up early in the morning to "salute" the officer by waking him up with loud gunfire.
The main thrust of Rodda's piece is about gun wounds and fatalities involving young children:
I found a plethora of articles about hunting accidents and other accidental shootings among adults, but what I primarily want to focus here on the accidents involving children, since Barton's claim is that all children were taught to use guns and that is why there were no gun accidents.
This is a just small sampling of the articles I found, many of which, as you'll see, sound just like the articles you see today -- most of them ending with warnings to parents about leaving guns around children or letting children play with guns, and many of them noting that gun accidents were a very frequent occurrence:
As RtO observed the other day about the new gun nut campaign using the slogan "I am the NRA," what it really means is "I don't care who gets hurt."