David Barton Claims That Gun Accidents Just Didn't Happen in the Founding Era -- Yeah, Right
Not to digress too much, but I can't help but mention something else here about the way Barton portrays John Quincy Adams and his son George. In addition to the letter about learning to use guns, Barton loves to bring up the letters that Adams wrote to George instructing him on how to read and study the Bible. But what Barton never mentions is how George turned out. What was the result of the strict regimen of Bible study and manly-man activities that Adams imposed upon his son? Well, George took to drinking and gambling, knocked up a servant girl at the home of a family friend, and eventually committed suicide at the age of twenty-eight. Barton never gets to that part of the story.
Now, back to what Barton said on Beck's show.
After reading from the letters of Jefferson and John Quincy Adams, Barton told his tale about a classroom full of gun-toting elementary school children in the 1850s saving their teacher's life by whipping out their guns to stop a gunman who came to their school -- a story that appears to have come not from an actual historical event, but from the Louis L'Amour novel Bendigo Shafter, as I wrote last week in my post " Is David Barton Now Getting His 'History' From Louis L'Amour Novels?" (An update on that post: Barton never answered my email requesting a source for his story.)
At the end of "Bendigo" Barton's gun-toting students story, he makes his 'no gun accidents' claim again:
BECK: "Kids did not shoot each other."
BARTON: "Oh no. No, no, no. Again, two accidents I have seen in two hundred years of everybody having guns. It just didn't happen."
Barton claimed on his radio show to have "searched" and only found two gun accidents in the founding era, but his claim became even more incredible on Beck's show. Now it's two gun accidents in two hundred years!
I really have to wonder just where the eminent historian Barton actually "searched" to only find two gun accidents in two hundred years when I was easily able to find countless reports of gun accidents in just a few minutes with nothing more than a quick search of Newsbank's historical newspapers archive. All it took was simply searching on a few combinations of words that you'd expect to find together in articles about gun accidents.
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:
From the Pennsylvania Packet, Philadelphia, December 16, 1783:
"We hear from Weymouth, that last week the following melancholy accident happened there: As a number of young men were out a hunting, a musket accidentally went off, by the discharge of which, one person was considerably wounded, and another by the name of Lovell, instantly killed: In which event, a promising youth of about 17, was torn from the enjoyment of his parents and friends, who pungently feel the loss."