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


From the Independent Chronicle, Boston, May 17, 1798:


"On Saturday last at Malden, the following unfortunate event took place: -- As Mr. John Hancock, was sitting in a chair after dinner, sportively instructing a young man, who had taken up a gun, which had been charged the day before, in the manual exercise; when Mr. H. directed him to take aim and fir, he received the contents into his head, which instantaneously put an end to his existence, Æt. 37. Let this be a warning to all young people, how they sport with arms, and heedlessly trifle with instruments of death."

From the Farmer's Cabinet, Amherst, New Hampshire, January 3, 1804:

"On Sunday, the 18th inst. Abigail Underwood, a deserving woman, æt. 24, was killed by a discharge of a musket loaded with shot, at the house of Messrs. Wiswall and Moore, paper makers, in Waltham. -- A youth came into the room where she was cutting the hair of an acquaintance, took up a gun, and snapped it twice, when it went off, and carried one half of her head with it. -- The verdict of the jury -- Accidental death. It is much to be lamented that the frequent repetition of similar disasters to the above, does not prevent persons suffering loaded guns to be in dwelling houses."

From the Albany Gazette, Albany, NY, September 17, 1804:

"Melancholy Accident. -- On Friday last, Henry Selden, aged 13 years, son of Mr. Joseph D. Selden, of this village, left home for the purpose of hunting pigeons. Not returning in the evening, his parents were much alarmed; but flattered themselves that he had fallen in company with a young man who was also absent, and that they had tarried the night, that they might be on the ground for hunting in the morning. The latter, however, returned at about noon on Saturday, without having seen the former. The people then collected and commenced a search for him. -- The had not proceeded far, before he was discovered on the side of a ledge of rocks about half a mile east of the village, and lifeless. From the situation in which he was found, it is presumed that he had discovered some game at the top of the ledge, which is so steep as to be almost inaccessible, and was endeavoring to approach near enough to make a shot. To facilitate his ascent, he had left his shoes a little distance below. His gun was standing several feet above where he was lying, and in an erect position against the side of the ledge; which renders it possible that he first climbed up the rock, and while in the act of drawing his gun after him it went off. The contents entered the side of his head, and must have put an immediate period to his existence.

"Thus has been cut off, in the morning of his days, by one of those accidents to which we are every day liable, a promising youth, the eldest hope of his fond parents! And thus are their expectations blasted in a moment! -- Scarce a week passes without bringing us accounts of lives being lost through the careless use of fire-arms. We wish the publication of them might produce the proper effect. But although we have little expectation, still we indulge a hope, that this melancholy event will operate as a warning to parents and others; that it will be productive of caution, and in some measure prevent the occurrence of similar accidents."

From the Weekly Visiter, Kennebunk, Maine, January 6, 1810: