Michael A. Bellesiles: Mega
Anti-Gun-Nut -- Part XVI
by Larry Pratt
Executive Director, Gun Owners of America
In the 1970s, when President Gerald Ford
decided not to bail out New York City with massive Federal aid, the New York
Daily News ran a now famous front-page headline: "Ford To New York:
Well, the same can be said about Emory History
Professor Michael A. Bellesiles, author of Arming America: The Origins Of A
National Gun Culture (Alfred A. Knopf, 2000). Despite the fact that
Bellesiles' wretched book has been compellingly criticized, in detail, by
several serious scholars and gun experts, he has refused to respond,
specifically, to any of them. In other words, if you put his arrogant silence in
headline form it would read: "Bellesiles To Critics: Drop Dead!"
On September 11, Vintage, a division of Alfred
A. Knopf, will issue a paperback edition of Arming America. And for a
brief moment -- very brief -- there was some hope that Bellesiles was going to
come down from Mount Olympus and condescend to reply to some of his critics.
When we contacted Vintage, we spoke to Russell
Perrault in the Publicity Department. He told us the paperback edition of
Bellesiles' book would, indeed, contain some changes in reply to his critics.
This would be done in a completely new Preface. In fact, he said he would send
us a copy of this Preface.
But, alas, this is not to be. Not long after
talking with Perrault, his assistant, Eric Martinez, told us there would be no
substantive changes in the paperback edition of Arming America, that this
possibility "didn't go through." For details, he referred us to Megan
Hustad, an editorial assistant at Vintage.
Hustad told us that the paperback version of Arming
America will contain the "correction of a few typographical errors and
cleaning things up." But, there will be nothing new in the book
"though there were plans of it, some discussions initially."
Q: "So, what happened? Why was it
decided that there should be no changes in the paperback edition since there
has been so much detailed, scholarly criticism of his book? Why was it decided
to completely ignore these critics?"
A: "In my discussions with Michael we
decided we did not want to do that. He might address some of those questions
in articles and other forms."
Q: "In any of these discussions did
Bellesiles admit that anything he had written in his original book was
A: "No, and frankly he would be a better
person to discuss this [though] I'm not sure to what extent he wants to
Well, we are sure. And the answer, to date, is,
well, as already noted: "Bellesiles To Critics: Drop Dead!"
When asked if she was privy to the discussion
regarding possible revisions in the paperback version of his book, Hustad says:
"Possible revisions in the book? I'm not sure what you're looking for
But, of course, Hustad knows exactly
what we're looking for. She has to know. Because the question is very
simple. There was, apparently, at one time -- or so we were told by Russell
Perrault -- a real possibility of a new Preface in which Bellesiles would reply
to some of his critics. This is not going to happen. Why not?
Well, Hustad says Bellesiles will make
revisions of a "small measure." But there will be no changes that are
"substantive," his arguments "do not change in any way, shape or
form." She says that our questions about the accuracy of Bellesiles'
original, hardback book are "loaded questions" and she "does not
like the direction of these questions."
Finally, when pressed, Hustad says yes, it's
true that there was "some discussion" about the possibility of
Bellesiles writing a new Preface for Arming America. And yes, this
Preface might have responded to some of the critics of the original book.
However, "we decided not to do that." But, why not?! No
A new headline: "Megan Hustad To Us: Drop