Daniel Boone (20th Century Fox, Sept. 24, 1964–Sept. 10, 1970)
aired on NBC for 165 episodes. Between this and Fess Parker playing
DAVY CROCKETT, KING OF THE WILD FRONTIER (Buena Vista 1955), every
kid in America wanted a coonskin cap! In fact, you can still buy a toy
of Davy Crockett’s supposed rifle, “Old Bess.” Also for sale is a Daniel
Boone costume with coonskin cap from the Sleepy Time Store, www.
sleepytimestore.com (last visited Jan. 12, 2015) There is no record,
ever wore a rac-coon-skin cap!
Daniel Boone by Chester
Harding (1820) when
Boone was 85
6. James Fenimore Cooper
used stories from Boone’s
life as the basis for parts of
his LEATHERS TOCKING TALES.
7. See Carl T. Bogus, The
Hidden History of the Second
Amendment, 31 U.C. DAVIS
L. REV. 309, 387–88 (1998)
History) discussing sociologist James
study on American cultural mythology, JAMES
WILLIAM GIBSON, WARRIOR DREAMS: VIOLENCE
AND MANHOOD IN POST-VIETNAM AMERICA 17
Although Bogus does not discuss
“Hawkeye” from M* A*S*H, in a way the
character fights just as much for civilization
on the frontier of war. M* A*S*H’s Hawkeye
is just as undomesticated, at least from the
order of the army. His shots are punch lines
and his aim as sharp as Cooper’s Hawkeye.
9. “Hawkeye” never misses,
which is how we Americans
think of ourselves (at least us guys!). One reason Hawkeye hits is technology; he has a “Long
Rifle” called “Killdeer” and it is not a musket. The Long Rifle, aka the Pennsylvania
or Kentucky Rifle, could be more than four feet long. Pennsylvania German gunsmiths creat-
ed the longer barrel for finer sighting and to give the gunpowder more time to burn, increas-
ing muzzle velocity and accuracy. The gunsmiths would make the rifle the height of the
customer’s chin so he could see the muzzle while loading. Thus, Hawkeye is accurate partly
because he is tall. The Long Rifle was also the “Kentucky Rifle” from the song The Hunters of
Kentucky, about the Battle of New Orleans.
A rifle gets its name from the grooves (“rifling”) cut into the walls of the barrel. The raised
areas of the rifling are called “lands,” which cause the ball (what we now call the bullet) to spin
in flight. This improves accuracy and range just like a properly thrown American football.
Archers had long realized that a twist added to the tail feathers of
their arrows caused them to spin in flight and gave them greater
A musket is a smoothbore gun meaning that it has no rifling in
the barrel (though the original rifles were called “rifled muskets”).
The “musket” gets its name from the French mousquette, a male
sparrow hawk or from mousquet meaning “little fly from the Italian mosca “fly,” which was
the word for a crossbow arrow. When the gun arrived the old crossbow arrow name
became the gun’s name. See WEBSTER’S WORD HISTORIES 313 (1989).
British Red Coats used a musket called the Brown Bess (nickname origin unknown) for more than 100 years
during the British Empire’s expansion. Despite the image of the independent American with his individual rifle, during
the American Revolution both sides used the Brown Bess because it was faster to load and fire than a rifle.
A soldier with a musket was a musketeer, meaning that the main job of Alexander Dumas’ heroes in THE THREE
MUSKETEERS (1844) was supposed to be shooting, not fencing. Despite this, Dumas’s books and the numerous movies,
TV shows, cartoons and even the candy bar feature swords as they call out “All for one and one for all.” Muskets,
after all, are heavy, cumbersome and not what a gentleman would carry around for dueling. Early pistols were also
cumbersome and had only one shot and thus were less practical for self-defense than the dashing rapier or saber,
which were also badges of social rank. Not until the
19th-century’s Patterson Colt did pistols start to possess the utility that justified their weight and bulk, making them practical to carry around for self-defense.
14. And the guns they played with were the Winchester
’ 73, the Colt Peacemaker and the Shotgun, the first
modern firearms as well as Hollywood standard issue.
The Model 1873 was a lever-action rifle from the
Winchester Repeating Arms Company and the beginning of a series of similar models. “Winchester” became synonymous with lever-action repeating
firearms. Because of its popularity and association with western movies,
such as WINCHESTER ’ 73 (Universal Pictures 1950) with Jimmy Stewart,
this is the “Gun that Won the West.” Chuck Connor’s Winchester in The
Rifleman (ABC television broadcast 1958–1963) had a trick feature of a
screw pin and large loop lever that tripped the trigger, allowing the gun
to fire like a modern semi-automatic. During the opening credits, Connors
fires 12 shots even though the Winchester only held 11 rounds.
In Wanted: Dead or Alive (Four Star Productions 1958–1961) Steve
McQueen was too cool for cool as bounty hunter “Josh Randall” packing a
sawed-off Winchester model 1892s called “Mare’s Leg” in the show. Any
shortened rifle, or a lengthened pistol, is often called a “carbine.”
The Colt Single Action Army handgun (SAA) was a single-action
(meaning that pulling the trigger also cocked the hammer) revolver (mean-
ing that it had a cylinder with five or six rounds that “revolved” with each
shot readying the next round for fire). The U.S. government chose it as the standard
military service revolver from 1873 until 1892. Colt also made the “Peacemaker,”
an SAA with the barrel etched with “Peacemaker.” But more important for the “wild
west,” the Peacemaker became the Hollywood standard.
A shotgun shoots a large “slug” or small pellets of “shot” in a pattern. A shotgun is smoothbore, meaning it has no rifling, so the shot blows
without spinning. The Boy Scouts of America still offer a merit
badge for shotgun mastery. The shotgun’s ancestor is the
blunderbuss, a short, large-caliber muzzle-loader flared at the end,
which was supposedly a Pilgrim favorite probably because it fired
shot and thus is good for turkey hunting.
More recently the shotgun featured in the Feb. 11, 2006, Dick Cheney hunting
incident. The Vice President accidentally shot Harry Whittington, a 78-year-old
lawyer. Whittington suffered a non-fatal heart attack from one of the
lead-shots near his heart. Jon Stewart of The Daily Show noted that
was the first
time a sitting
Hamilton in a
duel in 1804.
The Grumman E- 2 Hawkeye
The Brown Bess
The Long Rifle
Photo of rifling
with his Brown Bess
10. SERGEAN T YORK ( Warner Bros. 1941). Gary Cooper
won his first Oscar for his role. See Bogus, Hidden
History, at 388–89 for a discussion of this theme.
11. HIGH NOON (United Artists 1952). Cooper won his
second Oscar for this movie. A pretty
good science fiction remake of HIGH
NOON was OUTLAND (Warner Bros.
1981), even though it lacked HIGH
NOON’S theme song.
12. FOR T APACHE (RKO 1948). An
older but still cute Shirley Temple is
part of the cast.
13. SANDS OF IWO JIMA (Republic
Pictures 1949). This film contains
the first recorded use of the phrase
“lock and load.”
The Three Muskateers—
1973 movie scene—
again, no muskets.
8. See SUSAN FORD WILTSHIRE, GREECE, ROME, AND THE BILL OF RIGHTS 135 (1992), citing the classic
western SHANE (Paramount Pictures 1953) for the hero who must leave society after he has done
what he has to do.
Another example is
John Wayne’s character Ethan Edwards
in John Ford’s epic
western classic THE
western, PALE RIDER
1985), is thematically similar to
SHANE, with the hero
leaving for the
wilderness at the
Texas Monthly, Jan. 2007 issue
cover featuring Vice President
Dick Cheney holding a shotgun
July 11, 1804 Burr/Hamilton duel