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David Barton Claims That Gun Accidents Just Didn't Happen in the Founding Era -- Yeah, Right


From the Vermont Gazette, Bennington, Vermont, September 3, 1787:

"Monday last a daughter of Mr. Ichabod Allen of this town, aged eleven years, was instantly killed with a pistol, by her brother, who is about six years old. The particulars of the unhappy catastrophe, as related by the distressed family, (the parents being absent when the accident happened) are, That the pistol had been loaded, extremely heavy a few evenings before, by a young man of the family, with intent to shoot an owl; that he laid the pistol upon a shelf near the chamber floor, but the little boy finding where the pistol was laid, and having been frequently indulged in snapping and playing with it, found means by setting a chair against the wall and climbing upon the back of it, to get the pistol down, unknown to the family, and went out to play with it as usual. At the time the girl was killed she was sitting in a sleigh box before the door, holding an infant in her arms; the whole charge of the pistol lodged in her body just above the left breast, which put an immediate period to her existence. It is supposed the boy must have been very near her, when the pistol went off, as there was nearly forty shot holes in a space but little bigger than the circumference of a dollar.

"A solemn warning this to all parents and guardians of children not to teach them to use, or even so much as to suffer them to play with such weapons before they arrive to years of discretion."

From the Massachusetts Spy, Worcester, Massachusetts, October 1, 1789:

"At Capeelizabeth, on Saturday the 5th inst., James Mayo, a child of two years old, was shot through the head by his brother, a boy about 12, who was playing with a loaded musket -- The jury were of the opinion that the child's death was accidental."

From the Herald of Freedom, Boston, February 2, 1790:


"We learn from Shaftsbury, in Vermont, that a number of small boys were lately hunting there when one of them, named Ebenezer Bottom, was pushing a wad into his gun with his finger at the same time that another boy was priming it, the gun discharged, by which accident Bottom was badly wounded in the hand, and John Welsh, son of Mr. Ebenezer Welsh, of Norwich, was shot in the body and died in a few days after. -- This affords a melancholly caution to parents not to trust their children with guns till they have discretion to know how to use them."

From the Litchfield Monitor, Litchfield, Connecticut, August 17, 1791:


"Saturday last, the following melancholy accident happened in the parish of North-Hampton. -- A son of Mr. John Page, about 12 years of age, went into the house of a negro family, in his father's neighbourhood, (the negro man and his wife were absent, and had left three or four children at home, the eldest about 7 years old) and observing a loaded gun in the corner of the room, he immediately took it into his hands, cocked it, and drew it by the muzzle to the door, when by some accident it went off, and discharged its contents of powder, shot, and wadding into his breast and out at his back, which put an immediate period to his existence.

"We hope the above will serve as a caution to parents how they leave implements of destruction in the way of their children."