I occasionally hear a comment made, or read something to the effect, that the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, dealing with the “Right” of the people to maintain personally owned weapons is not relevant today. The gist of most of these expressions, is that either the framers were speaking and writing about weapons of the time, now obsolete when compared to current weapons capabilities, or that we no longer have the same level of threat facing our citizens today, than at the time when our fledgling country was beset by brigands and hostiles.
These comments are both ignorant, short sighted. One need only to read the actual words of the framers, to realize that they were a pretty brilliant group of guys (not to be gender specific…but recall the time). Unlike yours truly, they used an economy of words, which normally excluded unnecessary ones, since they were writing from a position of common sense. Why say something you don’t have to since it’s “understood.”
The purpose of this essay isn’t to re-hash the argument of what the wording of the 2nd Amendment means with regards to personally owned weapons. It’s actually to address the mistaken belief that it only really pertains to weapons available at the time, since obviously our framers couldn’t have been forward thinking gents who imagined machine guns, tanks, laser guided bullets and atom bombs.
The truth is, even at the time of the framing of our Constitution, inventors were working on vastly improved weapons technologies that would render the military “Musket” obsolete. It is plain to see, that they weren’t limited to imagination, but current technology. Only a fool (yes, I know that’s inflammatory, but there comes a point when courtesy simply does not make a strong enough statement) would believe our founders had no imagination, and only a complete moron would suggest that given the technological advancements from stones, to sticks, to stone-tipped sticks, to gun powder, bombs, cannon, muskets and pistols, that there didn’t exist in the fertile minds of men the thought that greater technologies awaited. These men were not stupid – though those who incorrectly judge them certainly seem to be.
But, let’s look for a moment at the musket, as it was available at the time of the founding, just so those who may have some misconceptions about lethality can be brought up to speed. The musket is obsolete when compared to military weapons of the day, but a few things should be considered when determining if an obsolete weapon doesn’t still pose a significant threat to the populace.
At the risk of becoming too basic, one needs to understand how projectiles (the part that draws blood) are flung from these devices. Powder that combusts, must be ignited in a contained space, to produce the gases that create the pressures which propel the projectile down the tube which aligns the projectile with the hoped-for impact point, some distance away. In the case of the musket of the time, this was accomplished by striking a flint (pre-shaped stone) against a metal plate called a frizzen, which produced sparks that hopefully ignited the powder in a pan, which as it combusted, would cause a lick of flame to dart into a channel on the side of the barrel chamber and reach the main powder charge, starting the projectile down the bore.
Sounds complicated, doesn’t it? It is. Which seems to support the contention that man is capable of “complicated” designs and working on improving them…all the time. If one knew what preceded this “Flint-Lock” action, one would understand that it was a huge improvement – archaic, as it may seem today. Yet, men were working on fixing that problem, as well as making those weapons even more effective in terms of down range accuracy, and speed of loading, and yes, even firing multiple times in between loading.
Why should all of this matter? Well, I suppose it must be summed up with my belief that the 2nd Amendment didn’t consider technology as stagnant, and that the style of weapons covered under its umbrella would not remain so either. The founders didn’t consider that which common sense would already explain. The reason for the 2nd Amendment wasn’t so that people could wield 18th Century technology for as long as the Union remained, but that Americans would not have to face whatever future difficulties they would encounter, armed “ONLY” with muskets!