About a dozen years ago, the historic legal reading of the Second Amendment — that it pertained to rights and responsibilities of state-based milita and their armaments, but not to individual rights to own guns — was sharply upended and re-interpreted to allow nearly unlimited personal ownership of rifles and pistols, including those designed as man-killers. I thought the subject worth close attention and ran an occasional series in Archipelago called Living With Guns. An essay was sent me by Mary-Sherman Willis, based in family history, about a bloody battle in May 1856, in the Kansas-Missouri Border Wars. I published it: “The Fight for Kansas.” It remains relevant, because of its double subject, guns and the de facto civil war being fought on the Western selvedges of a fraying nation.
I bring the essay to your attention because of its merits, and because Mary-Sherman Willis is the author of Caveboy, A Poem, our inaugural title at Artist’s Proof Editions, a nice coincidence.