Lewis & Clark may have been the first to notice need for repeating rifles

The Lewis and Clark Expedition crossed a lot of wilderness before reaching the West Coast of the US.  Jefferson sponsored the adventures after the Louisiana Purchase.  At some point on the trip Lewis came across a large black bear while he was separated from the rest of the group.  His first shot with his muzzle loader only wounded and angered the bear and he was left to quickly scramble to reload before the bear could reach him.  It was a lesson learned but it was not the last dangerous encounter with the animal.

Chris Stirewalt writes about the urban rural divide on the issue of guns and the Lewis and Clark adventure may help explain some of it.  I have written about the problems with coyotes in rural Texas and how a pack of them would make you think a large capacity magazine for an AR-15 would make an awful lot of sense if you are trying to protect your own animals from the predators.

As Stirewalt points out it is hard for an urban dweller to understand the need because they think of their own neighborhood and the people they encounter in it.
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Guns are incredibly potent symbols in American life. For the rural descendants of the Scots-Irish Diaspora, the gun is a symbol of power, equality, protection and self-reliance. Only a free person can have a gun. 
For urbanites, guns are symbols of menace, of a criminal underclass that threatens the social order – of chaos. Only an outlaw would want to have a gun.
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Actually both sides see guns as symbols of power.  One respects it and the other fears it.

I recall a story about my maternal grandfather and his shotgun.  He had a country store on the main highway between Birmingham and Anniston, Alabama.  John Mitchell McCaig was one of those Scots-Irish Stirewalt mentions.  He was a rarely in Alabama at that time because he was a Republican long before it was cool.

One night he heard a woman hollering outside the store.  She was a young black woman who had been kidnapped by a guy whose affections she had spurned.  The guy was hitting her trying to get her to hush, and it clearly was not working.  My grandfather pointed his gun at the guy and told him to leave her alone.  After separating the couple the sheriff was called and he made an arrest.  The story has been passed down by the family.  But no one thought what he did was that unusual.

Perhaps some who want to ban guns might think it was.  I suspect one of my cousins probably inherited that gun and no thought was ever given to registering it.

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