gunwalking, gun-running

victor steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jul 26 19:02:40 UTC 2011

[update gun-running 1883 --> 1880; gun-runner 1899 --> 1879]

If you don't recognize "Operation Fast and Furious", you surely have heard
the description--it's an ATF project that involved supplying weapons to
border-area gun-runners, then tracing the weapons to Mexican drug cartels,
apparently in an attempt to uncover the pathways of weapon flow. Note that
"gun-runner" and "gun-running" are fairly standard terms that have been in
use for a long time. OED has both entries under gun n.

  gun-runner n. colloq. one engaged in gun running.
> 1899    Athenæum 21 Oct. 551/1   Isaacs, the gun-runner, has good points as
> a man.

  gun-running n. the practice of illegally conveying firearms and ammunition
> into a country.
> 1883    Standard 21 Mar. 3/2   Two Europeans‥were arrested in the act of
> gun-running on the Pondoland frontier.

OED could use an update on both.

But "Operation Fast and Furious" either had a second nickname or acquired
one when the press and conservative pundits started mocking it--"Project
Gunwalker".  "Gunwalking" appears to be a standard law-enforcement
investigative technique for tracing the paths of illegally sold weapons. It
seems to be a play on "gun-running" and a blend of "gun" and "walking", in
the sense of walking something through [the steps] or pet-walking. There are
103K+ raw ghits for "gunwalking", and about 480K raw ghits for "gunwalker".
Most of the early ones are directly related to stories about the ATF
operation, but the terms are in the wild.

Originally, gun-running seems to be an artifact of the Boer War, which
belies the OED definition--the issue is not of someone conveying guns into a
country but rather procuring and conveying them illicitly (smuggling) to the
side that is not supposed to get them (in the eyes of the speaker). The
issue is not so much illegality of the operation as the speaker's hostility
to it. Both citations in the OED are from this context ("Solomon Isaacs: The
Gun-Runner" is from Under the Sjambok: a tale of the Transvaal, 1899).
Eight Months in an Ox-Waggon: Reminiscences of Boer Life. By Edward F.
Sandeman. London: 1880
Chapter 5. p. 34

> For those who trade in gun-running now have their boxes of rifles sent to
> Delagoa Bay, and from there can pass as many as they can dispose of into the
> very heart of Zululand, or into the northern interior, at a trifling charge
> in comparison, of 5s. a gun.
Fraser's Magazine. New Series. Volume 25. London: March 1882
Alfred Aywald. Basuto. p. 322

> A few of these were indifferent to what course should be resolved on,
> knowing that war opened up the way for the making of huge profits by
> gun-running--as smuggling arms is called in South Africa--but others
> sincerely and truly sought the continuance of peace, which had already
> proved so highly beneficial to the best interests of the country.
With the Boers in the Transvaal and Orange Free State in 1880-1. By Charles
L. Norris-Newman. London: 1882
Chapter 9. Transvaal and Secocoeni. p. 84

>  Later on, Sir T. Shepstone himself was told by all the officials in the
> District that Secocoeni would make war again as soon as he had sufficient
> provisions and supplies. Smuggling and gun-running were very prevalent at
> the time at Leydenberg; and, owing to the absence of any armed force, no
> steps could be taken effectively to stop it, or to give the protection to
> the District and Border farmers so much needed in the then state of affairs.
> In addition to this, the sale of firearms to the Natives, hitherto always
> strictly prohibited by the Boers, was allowed at the Diamond Fields, where
> Natives from all parts came to work with the sole object of gaining
> sufficient to purchase guns, and then returning home.

The Spectator. Volume 71. 1893 [Includes the June 1893 issues, probably from
Volume 70.]
June 24, 1893
Publications of the Week. p. 858

> Gun-Runner. By Bertram Mitford.

[Advertisement] New Three-and-sixpenny Books. p. 864 (several other ads in
the same volume)

> The Gun-Runner: a Romance of Zululand. By Bertram Mitford.

October 28, 1893
Gift Books. [Reviews.] p. 599/2

> *The **Gun-Runner. *By Bertram Mitford. (Chatto and Windus.) --This " tale
> of Zululand" would have been, we cannot but think, more effective if it had
> been compressed into smaller space. Some things, which it would have
> sufficed to indicate, are pictured in a detail which certainly every reader
> will not enjoy. Still, it is a spirited story j the motive is striking, and
> the course of incidents skilfully contrived. A "gun-runner," every one may
> not know, is a White trader who supplies native tribes with rifles,— a
> business which does not make him a favourite with his fellowcountrymen. Mr.
> Mitford has, it is clear, a pretty strong sympathy with the Zulus, who are
> contrasted, not a little to their advantage, with their white enemies. The "gun-runner,"
> who has, besides, great private wrongs to avenge, enjoys something of the
> favour which outlaws, buccaneers, smugglers, and other revolters against
> society can command, at least in the realms of fiction.
The Academy. Volume 44. September 2, 1893
[Review.] p. 189/3

> Mr. Mitford has earned a reputation for stories of South African life which
> should be well sustained by his latest production, *The **Gun-Runner* : a
> romance of the Zulu war in its earlier stages, embracing the massacre at
> Isandhlwana and the defence of Rorke's Drift. His book is filled with
> interesting details of historical scenes and events, and it is written with
> a considerable degree of indignant feeling on behulf of "the finest and most
> intelligent race of savages in the world--now, thanks to the 'beneficent'
> policy of England, crushed and 'civilised ' out of all recognition." The "
> Gun-Runner" himself is an Englishman, who, having been hounded from home
> and country by a nefarious plot hatched by his half-brother, has settled on
> the borders of Zululand, and being on terms of intimate friendship with his
> dusky neighbours, supplies them freely with rifles for use against his
> countrymen, when the latter menace them with invasion. The story is rather a
> gruesome tale of revenge, as the author, in an apologetic sort of preface,
> admits, and it ends somewhat disappointingly; but it is written with a good
> deal of vigour and imaginative power. The author also displays throughout an
> intimate acquaintance with the persons and scenery described; indeed, he
> expressly states that " the bulk of the Zulu chiefs and *indunas *who
> figure in the book are real characters, and, including the king, were, in
> times past, personally known to the writer."
 Athenæum. 1893
Ads for Mitford book pp. 45, 80, 276, etc. plus review on pp. 188

July 1, 1893
p. 45/2 with description:

> The GUN-RUNNER: a Romance of Zululand. By BERTRAM MITFOBD. With a
> Frontispiece by Stanley L. Wood. Crown 8vo. cloth extra, 3s. 6d.
> "Most of the Zulu chiefs and indunas who figure In Mr. Bertram Mitford's
> "The Gun-Runner" are real characters, and, including king, were personally
> known to the author. The Preface atlye deals Mitford's 'The Gun-Runner' are
> real character*, and, Including the r known to the author. The Preface
> states:-- 'If our narrative deals with history, it is with a vanishing page
> of the same ; and as such we look to it to interest the reader, if only as a
> sidelight upon the remarkable military power and ultimate downfall of the
> finest and most intelligent race of savages in the world--now, thanks to the
> "beneficent " policy of England, crushed and " civilised" out of all
> recognition.' "— Daily Chronicle.

August 5, 1893
p. 188/3
The Gun-Runner

> A very highly coloured story of love and revenge. The author does his best
> to enlist our sympathy for the hero; but perjury and treason in the shape of
> supplying weapons and intelligence to the public enemy, are hard matters to
> get over. ...

Mitford's book would appear to be the main vector in the spread of the term
"gun-runner". But it's not, in fact, the earliest. There are several hits in
GB that show up with earlier dates--and, in fact, the copyright dates on
these volumes are accurate. But, as Mitford's novel appeared in 1893, these
are most likely later reprints of the works with advertising for current
titles that include Mitford's.

Aside from gun-running being an artifact of the Boer war, with the earliest
cites over a decade earlier, there is evidence that "gun-runner" was being
used in South Africa freely prior to 1893.
Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine. Volume 149. May 1891
H. Knollys. Some Very Noble Savages. p. 617

> Unhappily the law is occasionally evaded by the criminal greed of whites,
> chiefly in the Cape Colony, some of whom occupy a high social status, and
> who have succeeded in baffling the utmost efforts of the Natal authorities,
> and in establishing a regular traffic through a secret route called "the Gun
> Runner's Pass."

But the most accurate reports appear to be from the correspondence between
Bishop Colenso and Governor Frere.
The Ruin of Zululand: An Account of British Doings in Zululand Since the
Invasion of 1879. Volume 2. By Frances Ellen Colenso. London: 1885
p. 45-6

> On the 18th of May, 1880, he writes to Lord Kimberley as follows [2695, p.
> 50]:--
> ...
> "I know, however, of few such instances of refusal. One was that of Mr.
> Mullins, a notorious gun-runner, who had been convicted in Natal, and
> suffered a term of imprisonment with hard labour, for smuggling guns and
> selling them to Cetshwayo."

p. 47

> Secondly, it may be observed that Sir Bartle Frere openly classes a man of
> whom he speaks as a "notorious gun-runner," smuggler and convict with the
> Bishop of Natal and his family as being alike dangerous and untrustworthy
> characters. What has "since been done by Dr. Colenso and members of his
> family" does not appear, but the expression can only apply at that time (May
> 18th, 1880) to the following facts. ...

There is some dispute as to the facts of Mr. Mullins's being a "gun-runner",
but that is not the issue here. In fact, there is an earlier letter
substantially on the same subject (the author, again, is Governor H. B. E.
Further Correspondence Respecting the Affairs of South Africa. (In
continuation of [C.-2308] of March 1879.) London [May] 1879. [C.--2316.]
pp. 52-3

> Enclosure 3. in No. 11
> Government House, Pietermaritzburg,
> March 6, 1879
> Dear Bishop Colenso,
> ...
> You must, I think, be aware, that this John Mullens is apparently the same
> John Mullens, a notorious gun runner, who is now, or was lately, in Durban
> gaol as a convict, on a criminal charge of supplying Catywayo with guns and
> ammunition.


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