Undoing the Musket Argument

A little silly, a lot serious
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While Virginia gun owners are trying to take back their state this month from the radical far-left that pushed through most of Ralph Northam’s extremist gun control agenda in 2020, elsewhere around the country anti-gunners will once again fall back on their favorite boilerplate arguments to do the same in your state.

You can have some fun with these people, while teaching them a lesson and making the extremists look really foolish.
Good for the goose …

I’ve lost count of the occasions when someone has tossed up the argument that at the time the Second Amendment was written, there weren’t modern firearms. The Amendment, they argue, should only apply to muskets and flintlock rifles.

Here’s how I’ve responded to the premise: “Look, if you want to roll back the clock and calendar, I’m game. But remember, if that’s where you want to take this debate, there are a few things to consider.”

• When the Bill of Rights — for which the Second Amendment is the cornerstone — was adopted, we didn’t have television or radio, no cable channels, no web offset presses for mass-producing newspapers or the Internet and social media. So, under your suggestion, they wouldn’t be protected by the First Amendment, right?

• We didn’t have organized police departments, and if criminals came to your home, you were expected to deal with the problem, not call 9-1-1 for help because they didn’t have telephones, either.

• Nobody needed a license or permit to carry a firearm. There were no background checks. It was not unusual to encounter armed citizens doing business in towns and villages, and no one raised an eyebrow.

Naturally, they’ll try to ridicule these remarks but the Bill of Rights is an all-or-nothing proposition. It’s not a legal buffet from which you can pick and choose those rights you like while discarding those you don’t. The Bill of Rights is a 10-course banquet and it’s still today’s menu, not yesterday’s blue plate special.

This would be a good time to remind your opponent the U.S. Supreme Court could be taking on more Second Amendment cases to further define the parameters of the right to keep and bear arms.

Joe Biden has made a habit of contending the Second Amendment is “not absolute.” Five months ago, when he announced his “Comprehensive Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gun Crime and Ensure Public Safety,” he told a gaggle of reporters, “The Second Amendment, from the day it was passed, limited the type of people who could own a gun and what type of weapon you could own. You couldn’t buy a cannon.”

This is demonstrably false. Mississippi River keel boats were frequently armed with swivel guns; small cannons used to fend off river pirates or raiding war parties. Some on the frontier owned cannons to defend their stockades. Privateers sailed with cannons.
Last year, when quizzed about Biden’s campaign assertion regarding cannon ownership, a fact checker consulted David Kopel, research director and Second Amendment project director at the Colorado-based Independence Institute.

“I am not aware of a ban on any arm in colonial America,” Kopel said at the time. “There were controls on people or locations, but not bans on types of arms.”

In 2020, when the Biden campaign was questioned about his cannon allegation, a fact checker wrote in the Austin American-Statesman newspaper, “the campaign was unable to come up with an example of a law banning private ownership of cannons, and historians of the period doubt that any existed.”

Where Humor Stops

The musket and cannon debate is admittedly prone to silliness but opinions such as Biden’s suggest a horribly shallow knowledge of history and no willingness to learn the facts, either among the public or the establishment media. They allow gun prohibitionists, including the president, to get away with such nonsense without challenge.

This is where grassroots Second Amendment activists step in. This column has encouraged readers to write letters to the editor, or be so bold as to write an Op-Ed for the local newspaper. We’re heading into late autumn and soon it will be winter. Of course hunting seasons are under way, but set aside a little time for gun rights research and get busy writing.

There is ample material from which to draw for such a project. The National Rifle Association and Second Amendment Foundation are excellent sources, and one can go on a search engine and simply look for information about “Gun Control” or “Gun Rights” and start studying.

This is not for laughs. You’re trying to educate people who haven’t made up their minds and the most important thing is to explain how Rights are different from Privileges. When Joe Biden, or some other anti-gunner declares, “Nobody needs 100 rounds for deer hunting,” remind them the Second Amendment is not about hunting, it’s about prohibiting the government from stepping on your rights.

Keep your writing terse and on topic; short sentences, proper spelling and punctuation. Put your name, address and telephone number on it. Do not plagiarize someone else’s work. If you quote someone else, put it in quotation marks and provide attribution.

Offer yourself as a source to local reporters. Be someone they will want to contact for the “other side” of any story on guns. Build your credibility by telling the truth, providing honest assessments of situations, understanding firearms and being able to explain the differences between military arms and modern sporting rifles.

One year from this month, America will hold its mid-term elections. If you want things to change, you’re going to have to vote and get everyone you know to vote. In 1994, frustrated citizens changed the face of Congress by throwing out more than 50 anti-gun politicians who voted for the Brady Law in 1993 and the Clinton Crime Bill with its 10-year ban on so-called “assault weapons” and original capacity magazines. Bill Clinton was effectively neutered for the rest of his time in office.

The time has come to do it again. If you entertain, even for a heartbeat, any notion the party now in power doesn’t want to turn your Second Amendment right into a heavily regulated privilege, you are woefully naïve.

The nomination of David Chipman earlier this year to head the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives wasn’t a signal; it was an open declaration of war on America’s gun owners. Here we are five months later. Any questions?

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