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ORIGINS OF AMERICAN GUN CULTURE IS TOPIC OF PRESIDENT'S LECTURE IN HISTORY

Michael Bellesiles, associate professor of History at Emory University in Atlanta, will deliver the President's Distinguished Lecture in History, "Samuel Colt and the Origins of American Gun Culture," at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 16, in the Mills Godwin Jr. Life Sciences Building Auditorium at Old Dominion University.

Founder of Emory's unique Violence Studies Program, Bellesiles will explain how gun culture in the United States was spawned in the 19th century by the self-promotion and salesmanship of Colt.

Bellesiles said Colt may have been the original master showman and salesman like P.T. Barnum, manipulating public sensibilities and inventing sales techniques that are still in use.

Colt created the perception of a need for guns in the minds of urban males, even though crime rates were so low that no urban police force in the country -- other than slave patrols in the South -- carried anything more deadly than a billy club.

The public seemed indifferent, when not actively hostile, to gun ownership, Bellesiles said. Even hunting was held up to ridicule and was mocked as the play of "insufficiently grown-up boys." Those who prized hunting followed the British lead in seeing it as a gentleman's sport.

For more information on the lecture, call 683-3116.

This article was posted on: March 7, 2000

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