I thank the editor for pointing out the "disagreement" of some historians regarding the quote attributed to Admiral Yamamoto of Japan regarding Guns in America and why Japan did not attack the U.S. mainland after Pearl Harbor ("Taking issue with a 'gun-free society," Oct. 14).
However, upon my research BEFORE I included the quote in my article, see (Wikiquote.org/wiki/Isoroku_Yamamoto), it is stated, "quote was stated in a letter to Ryoichi Sasakawa prior to the attack" (while discussing the details of the pending attack). The referenced "letter" is claimed to be in the extensive personal files of Gordon W. Prange, the personal historian for Gen. Douglas MacArthur! The Yamamoto quote in this letter is said to be, "to invade the United States would prove most difficult because behind every blade of grass is an American with a rifle."
I did not personally search the Gordon Prange files to locate the actual copy of the letter while doing the research. However, logic would suggest that the letter to Ryoichi Saskakawa from Yamamoto is in those files -- why make a reference to a specific letter's existence -- which can be verified by checking those extensive files -- if one has the time and energy -- if such a specific letter does not exist?
Historian Donald M. Goldstein (cited in the editor's note as questioning the authenticity of the quote, was involved in writing a prominent book about the Pearl Harbor planning. The book is a rather fine historical piece on the subject; and probably the most detailed. However, just because he says he "never saw the document" is far from proof the specific letter somewhere deep in the Prange Files, does not exist. Those files are extensive.
I believe I read somewhere, but can't be sure, that Prange himself stated the Yamamoto quote from time to time in conversations before he died. But the specific letter reference is far more relevant; and with time and energy, more verifiable. After all, it either does exist or it doesn't. But the facts remain. Japan did not invade the U.S. mainland after Pearl Harbor. And we were armed.
So I stand by the Yamamoto quote, and leave it up to the reader to determine its validity. But I personally don't see a problem. The letter is specifically referenced. A search of the Prange Files can be done if desired.
Yamamoto was correct, there was "an American behind every blade of grass with a rifle."
And the American mainland is much safer today from aggression by a foreign power because of this fact. Ask Great Britain. The United States had to provide guns weapons and support in World War II to England because they had banned all guns, and gun ownership by the populace; years prior to the pending invasion of their mainland by Germany.
Without those guns, England would have been invaded without being able to fire a shot in self defense. The course of the war might have been changed. Their standing army of the time was meager at best; and poorly equipped. Germany was on the verge of an invasion of Great Britain.
Various reasons stopped the invasion, however, at least they did have guns from the United States to use in self defense.