The Fraud that Just Won’t Die

Both Eugene Volokh and Dave Kopel refute some of the poor facts in an NYU law review article titled “The People” of the Second Amendment: Citizenship and the Right to Bear Arms. The paper essentially argues that the Second Amendment is a citizenship right, and not a universal one, that would apply to foreigners. Professor Volokh notes:

Some years ago, I noticed several authors making the assertion that indentured servants, and in one instance even women and the propertyless, were routinely barred from owning guns in the Colonies and in the early Republic. All those assertions turned out to rely on Michael Bellesiles’ pre–Arming America work that made such an assertion, especially Gun Laws in Early America: The Regulation of Firearms Ownership, 1607–1794, 16 Law & Hist. Rev. 567, 574, 576 (1998)

So in this paper we would seem to have a Bellesiles-inspired claim for which no true evidence can be found. It’s amazing to me, though his work has been thoroughly discredited by now, that his assertions still keep showing up in academic literature. People want to believe, so it becomes fact, even though it is fiction.

Dave Kopel concludes with “The author could have made a stronger historical argument for his position if he had accurately described the gun laws of 17th and 18th century America.” But that doesn’t fit the narrative does it?

3 thoughts on “The Fraud that Just Won’t Die”

  1. The example isn’t a phenomenon unique to any particular philosophy or ideology.

    Some years ago I wrote a magazine article wherein I cited a range of economic statistics that were, admittedly, hearsay to me. Some years after that I spoke at a public meeting, and someone came over to me afterward and pressed a little right wing tract/booklet on me. When I glanced at it later, I found it heavily footnoted, which seemed impressive, but found one of the references was me, writing in that magazine article!

    Not exactly the same thing, but I’m thinking of what a high percentage of Founder’s quotes that float around out there are actually bogus. We all have little hesitation in reciting as authoritative, whatever supports our worldview.

  2. Fantasy author Terry Goodkind referred to this as the “Wizard’s First Rule”: People will believe any lie, either because they want it to be true, or are afraid it might be true.

    This falls under the former. The whole “Concealed Carry Killers” sham falls under the latter.

    Either that, or the whole pro-criminal anti-rights movement is made up of hacks and liars. Oh, wait….

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