Is David Barton Now Getting His ‘History’ from Louis L’Amour Novels?

by Dan Quinn

That’s the headline from a great post by writer and David Barton-debunker extraordinaire Chris Rodda. Read the whole thing, but here’s a summary:

Speaking on right-wing commentator Glenn Beck’s web-based TV show last month, Barton suggested that arming students as well as teachers is the solution for protecting schoolchildren from mass shootings like the one at a Connecticut school in December. The far right’s favorite pseudo-historian and founder of the Texas-based organization WallBuilders even suggested that there’s precedent in history for armed students stopping gunmen:

“The great example, in the 1850s you have a school teacher who’s teaching. A guy — he’s out in the West — this guy from New England wants to kill him and find him. So he comes into the school with his gun to shoot the teacher, he decides not to shoot the teacher because all the kids pull their guns out and point it at him and say, ‘You kill the teacher, you die.’ He says, ‘Okay.’ The teacher lives. Real simple stuff. Saved the life of — there was no shooting because all the kids — we’re talking in elementary school — all the kids pull their guns out and says, ‘We like our teacher. You shoot our teacher, we’ll kill you.’”

Seriously? Well, a reader subsequently informed Rodda that Barton’s “example” sounds a lot like this passage from the Louis L’Amour novel Bendigo Shafter:

“… And then I looked at him over my cup. “Did you kill Drake Morrell?”

He chuckled again. “Decided agin it.” He sipped his coffee. “You know somethin’? After he started that there schoolteachin’ I figured I had him dead to rights. I laid out for him, waitin’ until he was out of school, and when he come out the door, I shaped up with my old Betsy girl here” — he slapped his rifle — “right on his belly. I had him where he couldn’t move. There was youngsters all around him, and he stood there lookin’ at me and never turned a hair. He had sand, that Morrell.”


“Has. He’s still around. You want to know what happened? I nigh got myself kilt. Five or six of them youngsters, weren’t but two of them upwards of twelve or thirteen, they outs with their six-shooters and had me covered.

“They told me he was their teacher and he was a mighty good one and if I shot him they’d fill my hide.”

He chuckled again. “An’ you know somethin’? They’d of done it, too.” “What happened?”

“Nothin’. I pulled down my flag. Pulled her down right quick. I never seen so many youngsters with six-shooters.”


Rodda has asked Barton to explain where he got his story. We assume she’s not holding her breath while she waits for a response. She has more debunking of Barton’s claims surrounding the Second Amendment here.