In Reply: Dr Marvel's reference to our founding
fathers' intentions about gun carrying is an interesting historical point
that is widely misunderstood. Contrary to the view that the founding fathers
were routinely armed in the course of their everyday lives, recent evidence
suggests the contrary. Analysis of some 1000 wills probated from 1763 to 1790
on the New England and Pennsylvania frontiers shows that only 14% of adult
males owned firearms, of which only half were in working order.1
In a country where, at most, only 1 in 14 men owned a working firearm, the
protection of the public from the effects of widespread gun carrying was probably
not foremost in the framers' thinking. Since the revolver had not even been
invented, it is fair to say that in 1789 the current level of gun violence
in America was literally unimaginable.
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