Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Historic Gun Control: Wounded Knee Massacre, December 29, 1890

 Wounded Knee mass burial, 1891, public domain

When people are disarmed, they are at the mercy of those who have disarmed them. History is full of instances where mercy was was in short supply. 

The desperate fight, which became a massacre at Wounded Knee, on December 29, 1890, was one of the better recorded of such events. From Britannica.com

Forsyth was clear in his terms: the Miniconjou must surrender all their weapons. Big Foot was hesitant, but he surrendered a few guns as a token of peace. Forsyth was not satisfied and ordered a complete search of the people and their camp, where his men discovered a host of hidden weapons. The increasingly intrusive search angered some of the Miniconjou. A man named Sits Straight began to dance the Ghost Dance and attempted to rouse the other members of the band, claiming that bullets would not touch them if they donned their sacred ghost shirts. The soldiers grew tense as Sits Straight’s dance reached a frenzy. When a deaf Miniconjou named Black Coyote refused to give up his gun, the weapon accidentally went off, and the fraught situation turned violent as the 7th Cavalry opened fire. Because many of the Miniconjou had already given up their weapons, they were left defenseless.

In the end, between 150 and 300 Lakota Sioux, of which the Miniconjou were a part, were killed.  

Nicolo Machiavelli gives advice to those who desire to obtain and keep power. From The Discourses":

For it is enough to ask a man to give up his arms, without telling him that you intend killing him with them; after you have the arms in hand, then you can do your will with them."  The Discourses end of chapter XLIV

For those who tell Americans to trust the United States government to protect them, if only they will give up their guns, consider the words of the British poet, Rudyard Kipling, in Gods of the Copybook Headings: 

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.

They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.

But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

In China, 300,000 disarmed soldiers and civilians were killed by the Japanese army in Nanjing (Nanking).

These events are not limited to the recent past. In India, Muslim invaders routinely captured tens of thousands of soldiers, disarmed them, and killed them. From hinduwebsite.com

Akbar ordered a general massacre of 30000 Rajputs after he captured Chithor in 1568. The Bahamani Sultans had an annual agenda of killing a minimum of 100000 Hindus every year. The history of medieval India is full of such instances.

Those who disarm others seldom do it for the good,of the others, although the excuse is frequently used in democracies. In the 1920's the British government took steps to disarm its own people. The excuse was crime (crime was at historical lows). The real reason was a fear of revolution. It has been well documented by Joyce Lee Malcolm and Colin Greenwood. 

The founders were aware of the history of disarmed peoples. It is one of the main reasons the Second Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights.


©2021 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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