Counting Guns in Early America

James Lindgren, Northwestern University

ABSTRACT
As ARMING AMERICA recognizes, one of the best sources for property ownership patterns in early America is probate inventories, listings of assets owned at death. It is important to place gun ownership in context by comparing ownership rates to those of other commonly owned items, such as books and chairs. Consistent with prior scholarship (Alice Hanson Jones, Anna Hawley, Gloria Main), We find gun ownership rates much higher than that reported in ARMING AMERICA. Contrary to ARMING AMERICA's claims, few guns are listed in poor condition, women owned guns in substantial numbers, and guns were kept in the home.

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Updated 05/20/2006