As House and Senate Democrats move forward with gun control legislation today in the 113th Congress, it is worth reflecting on why the Scots-Irish who settled much of Dixie and the West will never give up their guns:
“Women got busy spinning breeches and shirts designed for the practicalities of their new lives. They shaped simple moccasins and coats made out of deer and bearskins. This rapid transformation in appearance quickly set them apart from the wigs and buckles and frilly shirts of New England. Almost immediately the frontier revitalized the hunter-warrior encoding in their bloodline.
“The bosom of their dress,” said one visitor, “served as a wallet to hold a chunk of break, cakes, jerk, dow for wiping the barrel of the rifle.”
In a belt around their waist, they wore the most essential accoutrements; a tomahawk and a scalping knife for hunting and self-defense. No one could go about without muskets and knives in case of an Indian raid or bear attack. Skill with a rifle and knife was essential to survival, and a good marksman had great status in his community.
“The inhabitants of this country, in common with all backwoods people,” wrote one backwoods traveler, “are wonderfully expert in the use of it, thinking it a bad shot if they miss the very head of a squirrel.
Hunting and tracking – skills necessary for survival – became competitive pastimes.
Soon out-shooting, out-bragging, and showing off became integral to frontier culture and a wholly noble pasttime.” …
Santa Anna was an educated, handsome man fro a respected Spanish Colonial family, known for his bravery in battle, his gambling, his womanizing, and tendency to switch loyalties as self-interest dictated. Convinced that Jackson was plotting a coup, Santa Anna made the mistake of issuing orders that always seemed to provoke a Scots-Irish rebellion: he increased taxes, demanded crops be grown for the benefit of Mexico, and ordered the disarmament of the Texas militia. These hardy men of the South never had and never would surrender to such terms that would leave them unarmed and helpless in the face of a despotic government. They poured into the ranks of volunteer citizen-soldiers under Houston’s command. Crockett joined the Volunteer Auxiliary Corps.”
There is a reason why the Scots-Irish are so uniquely attached to their guns.
When the Scots-Irish immigrated to America, they moved to the backcountry of Pennsylvania and Virginia where they created a buffer zone between the pacifist Quakers in Philadelphia and the Tidewater planters and the hostile Indians on the frontier who were a menace to the eastern cities.
For generations, Scots-Irish families were terrorized by Indian raids as they subdued and pacified one region after another in the backcountry. They also used their firearms in the American Revolution and the Texas Revolution to win their freedom and independence from Britain and Mexico.
The possession of firearms in the Scots-Irish historical experience has been synonymous with freedom, the safety of their families, and putting food on the table.
Note: This excerpt comes from Karen McCarthy’s The Other Irish: The Scots-Irish Rascals Who Made America.