Thursday, February 14, 2013


Let's talk about muskets, specifically the muskets that were in common use in 1789 when our Constitution was ratified.  I refer to the British Army's Land Pattern Musket, commonly called the Brown Bess.  It threw a .71 caliber round ball and was generally considered effective to 100 yards.  An infantryman could get off three or four shots per minute and the rifle dictated the military tactics of the day, which generally consisted of long ranks of men standing in line, shooting at one another.  Very effective for its day, it was the general use musket of several armies, to include our own Continental army.  We're not sure how many were made, they were still being produced in limited numbers in 1854.

I hear people talking about the Second Amendment, and the quote goes something like this: "At the time the Constitution was written, the weapons in question were muskets." That's true. When the Constitution was ratified, most armies used the Brown Bess. However, when the Constitution was ratified, the Founders also wrote in Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press. In those days, there were no internets, nor televisions, nor radio. Electronically amplified speech was unheard of. The Freedom of Speech was limited to how far a person could shout. Also in those days, Ben Franklin had a pretty good idea of what a press should look like

The Freedom of the Press was limited by how much paper Dr. Franklin could shove into that machine every day and how much his delivery boy could carry.  Ben could print anything he wanted, but getting it to the people was a bit of a problem.

Marriage was considered a union between a man and a woman.  Only white male property owners could vote.  Slavery was an established fact.

So, if the argument is that the Second Amendment was about muskets, I'll propose that the first Amendment was about spoken speech and screw-type presses.  That marriage was about a man and a woman, and that voting rights were about white male property owners.  How long to you think those arguments would fly?

No, dear readers, the Second Amendment wasn't about muskets.  It was about commonly used military arms.  The Founders were smart enough to realize that science and technology, along with the social sciences would march forward and they gave us enough leeway to absorb all those technological changes in the document that founds our government.

If you want to read more, go read Mad Mike, who lays it out for you.  And, for all my liberal friends, if you want me to support your pet causes, don't let me hear any more about muskets and the Second Amendment.  Unless you're willing to give up your cell phones, your twitter, your facebook.  The First Amendment doesn't cover any of those.  Oh, your voting rights are at risk also, unless you're a white male property owner.

Let Freedom Ring.


Old NFO said...

Excellent points all! And I'd forgotten about the voting issue... :-D I'm gonna have some 'fun' with that one!

Gary Howell said...

This is an outstanding point that I really enjoyed reading. If used in a debate, the liberal would fly off his handle at the suggestion regarding freedom of the press or speech.