Clayton E. Cramer is an American historian, author, and software engineer. He played an important early role in documenting errors in the book Arming America by Michael A. Bellesiles, a book that was later proven to be based on fraudulent research. His work was cited by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas in United States v. Emerson, 46 F.Supp.2d 598 (N.D.Tex. 1999). His research also informed the Supreme Court decision in the seminal Second Amendment cases District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago. He holds an MA in history from Sonoma State University. He currently resides in Horseshoe Bend, Idaho, near Boise.
Arming America controversy
In 1996, while working on his master's thesis, Cramer read a paper by Bellesiles on early gun laws, published in the Journal of American History. This paper formed a basis for Bellesiles' later book, Arming America. Cramer's thesis "examined the development of concealed weapon laws in the early Republic", and he was struck by how Bellesiles' paper contradicted his own knowledge of gun availability in early America. However, at the time, Cramer attributed the contradiction to Bellesiles having picked differing sources from those that Cramer himself knew well.
Cramer was later sent an early review copy of Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture. Upon reading it, Cramer immediately noted significant discrepancies with what he knew of American history, particularly at the time of the American Revolution. He began checking facts and discovered that many of Bellesiles' citations and quotes did not match the historical record. "I sat down with a list of bizarre, amazing claims that Bellesiles had made, and started chasing down the citations at Sonoma State University’s library. I found quotations out of context that completely reversed the author’s original intent. I found dates changed. I found the text of statutes changed — and the changes completely reversed the meaning of the law. It took me twelve hours of hunting before I found a citation that was completely correct."
Cramer's research encountered resistance from journal editors and other historians, but he continued alleging fraud against Bellesiles' scholarship. Other historians, including James Lindgren of Northwestern University, supported Cramer's claims, and Emory University conducted an investigation which was strongly critical of Bellesiles' ethical standards. Bellesiles resigned his position at Emory on the day the report was released. On December 13, 2002, Bellesiles' Bancroft Prize was revoked by the Columbia University Board of Trustees.
Cramer writes a regular column on gun owners' rights and related issues for Shotgun News.
Besides his research and publications on gun owners' rights and American history, Cramer also has a strong personal interest in the treatment of the mentally ill. He is critical of the recent policy of making involuntary commitment of seriously mentally ill persons extremely difficult, and has researched and compiled a book explaining the origins of this policy and its present day effects.
Cramer is also an avid amateur astronomer. He has developed a system of lockable wheels for heavy telescope mountings, which he dubbed "ScopeRoller". He manufactures ScopeRoller in his home machine shop for sale to other amateur astronomers.
- Armed America: The Remarkable Story of How and Why Guns Became as American as Apple Pie. Nashville, TN: Nelson Current. 2007. ISBN 1-59555-069-0.
- Black Demographic Data, 1790-1860: A Sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. 1997. ISBN 0-313-30243-X.
- By the Dim and Flaring Lamps: The Civil War Diary of Samuel McIlvaine. Monroe, NY: Library Research Associates. 1990. ISBN 0-912526-46-7.
- Concealed Weapon Laws of the Early Republic: Dueling, Southern Violence, and Moral Reform. Westport, CT: Praeger. 1999. ISBN 0-275-96615-1.
- "Confiscating Guns From America’s Past". Ideas on Liberty 51 (1): 23–27. January 2001. ISSN 1542-0698. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
- Cramer, Clayton E. (Winter 1993–1994). "Ethical Problems of Mass Murder Coverage in the Mass Media". Journal of Mass Media Ethics 9 (1): 26–42. doi:10.1207/s15327728jmme0901_3. ISSN 0890-0523. Archived from the original on 2007-08-07. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
- Firing Back: A Clear, Simple Guide to Defending your Constitutional Right to Bear Arms. Iola, WI: Krause Publications. 1995. ISBN 0-87341-344-X.
- For the defense of themselves and the state : the original intent and judicial interpretation of the right to keep and bear arms. Westport, CT: Praeger. 1994. ISBN 0-275-94913-3.
- "The Racist Roots of Gun Control". Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy 42 (2): 17–25. Winter 1995. ISSN 1055-8942. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
- "Shall Issue: The New Wave of Concealed Handgun Permit Laws". Tennessee Law Review 62 (3): 679–757. Spring 1995. ISSN 0040-3288. Archived from the original on 2007-07-05. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
- "Shots in the Dark". National Review Online. September 23–24, 2000. ISSN 0028-0038. Retrieved 2007-08-13.
- Cramer, Clayton; Kopel, David B.; Hattrup, Scott G. (Fall 1995). "A Tale of Three Cities: The Right to Bear Arms in State Supreme Courts". Temple Law Review 68 (3): 1178–1241. ISSN 0899-8086.
- "Why Footnotes Matter: Checking Arming America's Claims" (PDF). Plagiary 1 (11): 1–31. 2006. ISSN 1559-3096. Retrieved 2013-04-25.
- "What Clayton Cramer Saw and (Nearly) Everyone Else Missed". History News Network, George Mason University. January 6, 2003. Retrieved 26 February 2009.
- "Oct. 25: Michael Bellesiles Resigns from Emory Faculty". Emory University. October 25, 2002. Retrieved February Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, 2009.
- "The Bancroft and Bellesiles". History News Network, George Mason University. December 13, 2002. Retrieved February 26, 2009.
- "2008 Primary Election Results Legislative Totals". Retrieved May 17, 2009.
- Cramer, Clayton (March 2012). "Madness, Deinstitutionalization & Murder". Engage (Federalist Society) 13 (1): 37–43. Retrieved May 22, 2012.
- My Brother Ron: A Personal and Social History of the Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill. Scotts Valley, CA: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 2012. ISBN 1477667539.
- "ScopeRoller 8 Deluxe Castors for GM-8 Mounts". Astromart. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
- "ScopeRoller". Astromart. Retrieved May 16, 2012.