The Post's May 9 news analysis on militias and America's revolutionary heritage quotes colonial historian Rosemarie Zagarri as stating that the British "didn't try to disarm" the Americans and never "prohibited the colonists from bearing or owning arms." Reality was quite the contrary, as I have documented in my 1989 book "A Right to Bear Arms" and in a University of Dayton Law Review article, "Encroachments of the Crown on the Liberty of the Subject: Pre-Revolutionary Origins of the Second Amendment" (Fall 1989).
As British troops sailed to Boston in 1768, the Boston Gazette reported that the ministry commanded things "more grievous to the people, than any thing hitherto made known," the first of which was "that the inhabitants of this Province are to be disarmed." By 1774, the British were routinely conducting warrantless searches and seizures of firearms in the Boston area, leading the Gazette to exclaim that "what most irritated the people next to seizing their arms and ammunition" was the arrest of patriot political leaders. King George III ordered the seizure of any firearms imported into the colonies.
Just after the Redcoats' attempt to seize the arms of the rebel militia at Lexington and Concord in 1775, Gen. Thomas Gage ordered all the inhabitants of Boston to turn in their arms at Faneuil Hall for temporary safekeeping. When the people complied, troops seized the firearms, never to return them. A patriot poet described Gen. Gage's order as saying:
That whosoe'er keeps gun or pistol,
I'll spoil the motion of his systole.
"The Declaration of Causes of Taking Up Arms" passed by the Continental Congress cited Gen. Gage's perfidy in seizing the Bostonians' arms. The arms seizures were a major cause of the Revolution. STEPHEN P. HALBROOK Fairfax