A Brief History of Guns in America: Guns and Public Health Part 1


Firearms have a long and unique history in the United States. They’re controversial, and they have a huge impact on public health and safety. This month’s special Healthcare Triage series will look at firearms as a public health issue in the United States. This week, we’ll be looking at the history of guns in the US, and how gun legislation has changed over the last couple of hundred years, and how courts’ interpretations of the second amendment have changed. In the next few weeks, we’ll look at gun homicides, gun suicides, and firearm policy.

Update: When we called the AR15 an assault rifle, we probably should have said assault weapon. Sorry for any confusion this may have caused.

This series is made possible by funding from the National Institute for Health Care Management Foundation

John Green — Executive Producer
Stan Muller — Director, Producer
Aaron Carroll — Writer
Mark Olsen – Graphics
Meredith Danko – Social Media

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  1. Roy Biv

    It's important to note that the case of US v Miller was a farce. Nether the defendants nor their lawyers were in court. Judge H. Ragon (district court judge) intended this, as he was in favor of recent gun control legislation. The judges alleged plan was that, Miller, having testified against his gang (he was a gangster), would be in hiding and would not defend against the appeal to this case. This is what happened.
    Part of the argument was that short-barreled shotguns were not military weapons and thus not subject to protection under the 2nd Amendment. This is false. 20,000 — 30,000 such weapons were used just during WWI. (This argument is lost in current gun control debates which say that military weapons are NOT protected by the 2nd) Furthermore, the court, with no counter argument, took all statements as truth, even ones (as noted above) that are patently false. [There is no opinion here, just some additional info. : ) If I knew more, I would share.]

  2. Captain Ghost

    Theres a 2019 Assault Rifle Ban Bill now

  3. Justin K

    Intervene with the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed..

    This applied to anything you could carry.

  4. Sinsation

    An AR15 is not an assault rifle because it is not capable of select fire. The M16 and AK47 have select fire, so those are considered assault rifles. Stop spreading this blatant ignorance already.

  5. Wheeling And gunning

    Onr simple statement and it destroys every liberals argument on gun control. That statement is. States with the highest gun control laws have the highest gun crimes. Almost all mass shooting happen at the liberals utopia of gun free zones. How many mass shooting happen at gun ranges , gun shows , or NRA meetings. The stupidity of the left is absolutely mind boggling. Of course the left puts suicides in the stats of gun homicides. If the didn't use them it blows all of their fake gun stats to shit.

  6. J Cole

    So who are you freedom haters going to send to take my guns? Y’all don’t think anyone should have them lmfao so what are you unarmed fucks gonna do? Try to take them from me yourselves? Lol Yeah sure lol.

  7. Michael White

    I'm sorry but you are wrong when it comes to defining an assault rifle.  An assault rifle is a fully automatic weapon.  A semi-automatic does not qualify.

  8. Snowfall

    A) States have their own constitutions
    B) Heller vs. DC proved gun ownership was meant for all non-prohibited persons.

  9. ResortDog

    Recycling vids for some political reason? I personally want to be able to kill murderous thieves and enemies of the state at MY discretion, not as a tool of the rulers; that have to be controlled.

  10. Raivin Barker

    Get rid of em for a couple years and see what happens.

  11. babaero6969
  12. babaero6969

    One sided propaganda! Lmao. Weak. Molon Labe liberal!

  13. Jose Solis

    They had revolver and repeating fire arms when the 2nd amendment was written they were just really expensive

  14. Kushandpolo

    Why didn't u do the dred Scott decision where the court ruled they can't recognize that blacks have rights because if they did then they'd have the right to keep a and bear arms this was a 1800s case

  15. Bico Fire

    It’s not an assault rifle……

  16. Olivia P

    If we always have to wait and pray and stuff after each person whom dies from a gun, then we will never get anything done, because on average, one person dies from gun violence every 12 minutes in America.

  17. Don McKechnie

    Nice try but a semiauto assault rifle was designed to kill people! Like Sandy Hook, Gabby Giffords in AZ, Pulse Nightclub, Las Vegas, and the recent school shooting in Florida. Perhaps instead of a gun you may need a pacifier.

  18. Andy

    Please stop spreading inaccuracies of history. The founding fathers were aware of detachable magazines, rapid fire devices when writing the amendment. People who have no idea as to the history of firearms development will spread this misinformation to others, hurting what the interpretation of the second amendment is. The founding fathers were completely aware of how firearms were advancing, the dates of these patents should be considered. http://igeek.com/w/2nd_Amendment_was_for_muskets Nearly half of this video is inaccurate. Please annotate or remove if you truly seek the truth.

  19. Cheddar Cheese

    If you notice the people’s rights not the government right to bear arms is protected.

  20. devwreck127

    Let's do some math using CDC numbers.
    32,000 gun deaths last year
    -60% are suicide — 19,200
    -3% are accidents — 960
    -4% are justified — 1,280 (thousands of instances of firearm self defense occur annually, most go unreported)
    -33% are homicides — 10,560
    -but 80% of homicides are gang related — 8,448

    That leaves 1,712 people in a country with a population of 325 million people.
    You have a 0.00003% chance of death by a firearm, but if you're not part of a gang, don't commit a crime, or don't plan on committing suicide,
    you actually have a 0.000005% chance of death by a firearm in this country.
    Guns are not the problem.

  21. RedDice

    Where and when we're guns invented

  22. supersmex

    I would like a gun to protect myself from Trump voters

  23. Darth Utah 66

    So basically, the second amendment has been reduced to being true only in theory. Many republicans and libertarians say that gun control is a slippery slope and so far, history seems to have proven them right.

    Until the first court case, people assumed that the federal government had no right to infringe on gun rights (and the same applying to the states after the passage of the 14th amendment). But then, US v. Cruikshank allowed certain groups to be disenfranchised of the right to bear arms and Miller v. Texas allowed states to restrict firearms but hey, at least the federal government can't restrict gun freedom. Oh gosh darnit, US v. Miller allows the federal government to ban some guns.

  24. No this is Patrick

    This video may trigger both sides

  25. EscpdFrmPsykward

    Your definition of "assault rifles" being anything with an adjustable stock, pistol grip, flash hider or any magazine that holds more than 10 rounds? Yeah, that was a term invented by gun control groups. The features listed? Arbitrary and purely cosmetic. Most modern handguns hold more than 10 rounds and have pistol grips (pistol grip on a pistol? gasp lol). So does that make them "assault pistols" because they meet some of the same criteria as "assault rifles"?

    The Ruger Mini14, a traditionally wood stocked semiautomatic rifle usually comes equiped with a flash hider and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds are readily available. They basically do the exact same thing as an AR-15 but they don't have a pistol grip or adjustable stock, so it doesn't look as scary.

    My point is, "assault rifle" is a made up word that's used to scare ignorant people into going along with gun control. But I am glad that after making that point, you did list the redeeming qualities of the AR-15 and why it's a gun people want to own, I just wanted to clear up that definition and why it's bullshit.

  26. alex andoven

    I thought it was a great video and very insightful.

  27. ihartevil

    this doesnt even matter anymore we have trump now gun sales have plummeted thx for this ha bisky vid anyways called no fucking duh the government is bought by corporations

  28. Mike Jones

    I came here expecting this to be another "reasonable discussion about guns", that pays lip service to fairness while spreading emotionally drive falsehoods. I was pleasantly surprise. This was a fair and well made video that steers clear of the typical scare language I've some to expect and it is clear that your intent is factual education, regardless of your personal beliefs. However, I do have to disagree with your conclusion about the second amendment applying to the states and not to the individual.

    Almost the entirety of the bill of rights was written to place limitations on what the federal government could do to the citizens. Because while the constitution said how the government would run, it was unfortunately vague on what it COULDN'T do. And even if the supreme court has historically stated that the second amendment doesn't apply to individuals, that does not mean that this was the amendment's original intent. What makes it any different then all of the amendments above and bellow it on the same list, that were written at the same time, but the same people and which are universally agreed upon as applying to individual citizens?

    Asking an established government about what level of control over it's citizans is appropriate is a lot like asking a toddler if they should have cake for breakfast. They have a vested, shortsighted interested in saying yes.

  29. Josh Nycon

    It sounded like he said the Gatling gun appeared in 1961 when it was invented in 1861. Mentioned around the 6 min mark.

  30. princesssshortie

    "It's an easy target…" ba-dum-tss!

  31. Argacyan

    Not a legal expert either, but I have somewhat of an education on laws (and economics): The US has some of the worst gunlaws and statistics in multiple areas. Some people like to blame "thug culture" or dismiss statistics as forged, but the reality is right there.

  32. Anonymous Freak

    What pisses me off about the debates are how it has become so polarized that people who would be called "moderates" — people who believe in the individual right to own firearms, but also agree that there can be laws that restrict them in some ways — are decried by both sides. I get called a "gun nut" by people who dislike guns, and "a gun grabber" by those who are gun enthusiasts.

    Also, THANK YOU for fully defining semi-automatic vs. automatic, and "assault rifle" (and why the term "assault rifle" is a silly definition for banning.)

  33. Rese Nese

    and a hand crank gatling gun is not a machine gun

  34. Rese Nese

    state means the people you dip shit

  35. J. Lee That's Me

    Not sure if this error has been pointed out below, but:

    @6:02 the commentator says the Gatling Gun was introduced in 1961.

  36. WBrown999

    Although I think I can determine your political leanings, I want to applaud you on your neutrality during this video. Very well-done.

  37. ripvanstinkle

    The first Gatling gun was in 1961? Or did you mean 1861?

  38. TheMixmastamike1000

    Well done.?? I think you stood firm in your objectivity, while using emphasis on certain point to keep the audience interested. I'm excited for next weeks show. Again well done!

  39. TheMixmastamike1000

    Calling them ASSULT RIFLES is like calling you daily driver a VEHICULAR HOMICIDE CAR even though the likelihood of that being the case is like a drop of water in your local swimming pool

  40. Jeremy Day

    The AR-15 is not an "assault rifle" or an "assault weapon. It is a semiautomatic sporting rifle.

  41. ImIronManYhea

    actually the militia has been defined as all able bodied men age 17 — 45 since 1903 and was recently modified to include women too, so there has been legal ground to say that every one can own guns since at least 1903.

  42. Chris

    Excuse me, but the gatling gun appeared in 1961? Your dates might be off there

  43. rgbii

    06:00 Sounds like he said the Gatling gun was from 1961, shouldn't that be 1861?

  44. TalkisCheap

    He's wrong about the types of guns they had back when the Bill of Rights was written. They had some crazy powerful guns that could shot off dozens of rounds within seconds. They also allowed private sea vessels to be armed with cannons. It wasn't just these little pistols they had, the founding fathers knew what type of technology they were legalizing.

  45. James Smith

    Don't be a dumbass. Google this stuff