GARRY, WHERE ARE YOU? . . . Garry Wills, forthcoming about papal sins and why he's a Catholic, was unavailable for comment on the historian Michael Bellesiles, whom he had commended for a gun-history book which turned out bogus. The book, Arming America (Knopf, 2000), inaccurately stated that guns were rare in early U.S. history and thus (inaccurately) supported loose, non-gun-owner interpretation of the 2nd Amendment.
Wills was one of 47 historians and law profs who wrote NRA president Charlton Heston in March, 2000, citing Bellesiles as cause for Moses to cease and desist his 2nd-amendment-based efforts at protecting gun ownership. But alas, the book is "unprofessional and misleading," according to a scholars' panel that included one of the 47, and Bellesiles is out of a job, having resigned from the Emory U. faculty. But double alas, only two of the 47 admit they were wrong, Wills, whose Why I Am a Catholic was reviewed favorably (by me) in The Phila. Inquirer, was not one of them.
Rather, he was one of the letter-signing scholars who "disappeared," reported WSJ writer Kimberley Strassel, even though he had (also) praised the Bellesiles book to the sky in that haven of properly left-style thinking The NY Times Book Review. I for one find this puzzling to an extreme, since Garry is ever generous with opinion, even when not flogging a book.