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Letter: Facts don't hold up to scrutiny

In reference to Bill Hall's Aug. 15 letter to the editor, "Right to arms isn't obsolete," two of his statements are incorrect.

First, that this country has never been invaded, and second, that the Japanese were deterred from invading us because of civilian gun ownership.

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During the War of 1812 our country was invaded several times. The capture and burning of Washington D.C. and the attack on Baltimore in 1814 are two strong local examples, not to mention smaller raids all along the Chesapeake by the British during that war. And, the Battle of New Orleans took place at the very end of that war after the peace treaty had been signed.

Japanese Admiral Yamamoto is claimed by some to have said, "You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass."

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That statement is much repeated in various internet postings, but this attribution is unsubstantiated. I would certainly like to know what his source is for that statement.

From "Misquoting Yamamoto" by Brooks Jackson, "How do we know? We contacted Donald M. Goldstein, sometimes called 'the dean of Pearl Harbor historians.' Among his many books are 'The Pearl Harbor Papers: Inside the Japanese Plans' (1993) and the best-selling 'At Dawn We Slept: The Untold Story of Pearl Harbor' (1981). He is a professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. He told us the supposed Yamamoto quote is "bogus."

In an exchange of e-mails he said:

"Prof. Goldstein: I have never seen it in writing. It has been attributed to [the files of the late Gordon W. Prange, chief historian on the staff of Gen. Douglas MacArthur], but no one had ever seen it or cited it from where they got it. Some people say that it came from our work, but I never said it. ... As of today it is bogus until someone can cite when and where.

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"... We make no argument either for or against gun ownership. But we do object to fabricating quotes and passing them off as historical fact."

My understanding is that the Jeffersonians and others in this country feared the prospect of a standing army after gaining independence and instead sought to rely on a citizen soldier militia to protect our country, thus the preamble to the Second Amendment about the need for a well regulated militia. The War of 1812 demonstrated that there was a need for a strong professional army and navy to protect our country.

Dave Libershal

Finksburg

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