Debate Magazine

Did Gun Control Cause the Black Plague?

Posted on the 29 August 2011 by Mikeb302000
Did gun control cause the black plague?
Does that seem like a stupid question? Not in the light of Unhinged comment here:
And the million Irish starved by the UK during the "famine", that's OK too, as long as the govt has the monopoly on force, you're fine with that?
One problem with "pro-gun" arguments is that they have the unspoken assumption that people owned guns prior to the enactment of these laws (such as comparisons to England and Australia). The problem is that most of the time there wasn't wide spread gun ownership prior to the enactment of most genocidal gun control laws. Additionally, they posit that societies' evils are caused by the lack of guns.

In the case of unhinged comment, we are talking about the Irish Potato Famine which was caused by Phytophthora infestans, which is an oomycete which causes a disease commonly known as potato blight. The blight ravaged potato crops throughout Europe during the 1840s; however, the impact and human cost in Ireland — where one-third of the population was entirely dependent on the potato for food—was exacerbated by a host of political, social and economic factors. The blight was not directly caused by any evil act by the British Government.

I'm not sure how having a gun during a time when food crops were being ravaged would be helpful any.

The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. It is widely thought to have been an outbreak of plague caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30% – 60% of Europe's population, reducing the world's population from an estimated 450 million to between 350 and 375 million in 1400. This has been seen as having created a series of religious, social and economic upheavals, which had profound effects on the course of European history. It took 150 years for Europe's population to recover. The plague returned at various times, killing more people, until it left Europe in the 19th century.

While this may seem silly, firearms were just becoming available in Europe. The first and oldest picture of a firearm comes from Walter de Millimete (De Notabilitatibus Sapientis et Prudentia Regnum, 1326). The picture there shows a small cannon fixed to a table, firing an arrow with a shaft the size of the gunner's forearm. It is hard to believe that the inventor of firearms had cast a large cannon barrel for his first test. I think he probably first built a model of it, and that model would become a handgonne. The use of an arrow as a projectile doesn't seem too far fetched. After all, this was the kind of projectiles used for thousands of years. The earliest documented use of a handgonne was used at Tannenberg castle during its destruction in 1399.

I can't see why unhinged would not cite to this lack of firepower as a reason for the black death.

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