Multi-Shot Assault Weapons Of The 1700s And The 2nd Amendment

Rep Emmer said,"The Second Amendment is an essential civil right and a significant part of our heritage in Minnesota. Our founders understood that an individual’s right to keep and bear arms is a crucial individual liberty and protection against tyrannical government. Citizens must remain vigilant in order to protect their rights, and the ability to lawfully exercise these rights should remain free from government intrusion."

Proponents of stricter gun control have a problem with the Second Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” One of their arguments is that our Founding Fathers could not have imagined the rapid fire weapons of today. But, in fact, during the time of the American Revolution and ratification of our Constitution there were several weapons in use that could fire much faster than the standard muzzle-loading flintlock rifle of the time.In 1718, James Puckle invented and patented what was essentially a machine gun. According to Wikipedia, the Puckle gun “had a pre-loaded cylinder which held 11 charges and could fire 63 shots in seven minutes [9 shots per minute]—this at a time when the standard soldier’s musket could at best be loaded and fired three times per minute.” The gun was intended for use aboard British ships to repel boarders. Although the Puckle gun was never widely used, it was known at the time of the American Revolution, and the concept was certainly known since Leonardo da Vinci designed a rapid fire weapon in 1481 (see here).

Another relatively rapid fire weapon was the Ferguson Rifle invented by British officer, Major Patrick Ferguson. The Ferguson Rifle was a flint lock, but it was breech loading rather than the standard muzzle-loaded rifle. It could fire up to seven rounds per minute, two to three times faster that the muzzle-loading weapons of the day. Using the Ferguson Rifle, light infantry troops could continue loading and firing without breaking cover, even when lying prone. This rifle was used by the British against the Americans in 1777. Read more

The Girandoni air rifle was an airgun designed by Tyrolian inventor Bartholomäus Girandoni circa 1779. The Girandoni air rifle was in service with the Austrian army from 1780 to around 1815. This rifle had a lethal combat range of 125 to 150 yards. It had the advantage of a high rate of fire, no smoke from propellants, and low muzzle report. It had a detachable magazine containing 19 rounds of ammunition. A single shot from the Girandoni could penetrate a one-inch wood plank, or take an elk. Read more

Washington Post article by David Kopel notes: “Gun-control advocates often argue that gun-control laws must be more restrictive than the original meaning of the Second Amendment would allow, because modern firearms are so different from the firearms of the late 18th century. This argument is based on ignorance of the history of firearms. It is true that in 1791 the most common firearms were handguns or long guns that had to be reloaded after every shot. But it is not true that repeating arms, which can fire multiple times without reloading, were unimagined in 1791. To the contrary, repeating arms long predate the 1606 founding of the first English colony in America. As of 1791, repeating arms were available but expensive.”

The Washington Post article mentions a German breech-loading matchlock arquebus from around 1490-1530 with a 10-shot revolving cylinder, the Girandoni air rifle, and many other multi-shot hand weapons all available at the time when the Second Amendment was written.

The “failure of imagination” argument falls to the facts of history.

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18 Comments on "Multi-Shot Assault Weapons Of The 1700s And The 2nd Amendment"

  1. As a descendant of a American Revolution Family I believe in the Constitution of the United States of America period. Generations of our family have serviced this county proudly with no reservations. People kill People, not the weapons, which never fire until a human pulls the trigger.

  2. Those who wish to take your guns are also the ones who wish to grow government, take away your freedoms, and impose their laws upon you. Never let it happen.

  3. This article misses the point. Would one argue that Free Speech only applies when shouted out standing on a barrel in the town square, or when block printed or quill penned onto parchment and delivered by horse? Free Speech is protected via any means of transmission, even when those means were undreamed of in 1790. And of course, the PEOPLE (people has a specific meaning within the Bill of Rights, as does Government and States) right to arms shall not be infringed.
    Those People in 1790 had a right to the same military small arms technology as the Government in 1790, and nothing has changed.

  4. Those who wish to deny you your Constitutional Rights also want to grant those same rights to people who are in this country illegally.

  5. One look at the uberliberal stronghold of California now tells the future of the path of this country if weapons are taken away from the citizens. In the liberals vision, we are all equal, government tells what we can do and how much we can make. Make too much and we take it away from you. They want government to run every facet of our lives. Sounds suspiciously like socialism to me? Everyone the same, no need to work hard to advance, sound familiar. Its coming and the movement is led by George Soros and his ilk. One world government that he owns will tell all of us good serfs what to do and when to do it. The idiots don’t know that its right around the corner. Without weapons, this movement already will have a leg up and be functioning in places.

  6. Albert Lannon | March 11, 2018 at 7:40 am |

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” That is one sentence, one subject, so I ask, what “well regulated Militia” is it you belong to? I would agree that confiscation would be a big problem, and I really don’t see anyone calling for that, but the Constitution is quite clear about regulation. So how about we treat guns like cars, which — as has been pointed out often — kill more people than guns? Registration, with tests, licensing and insurance for users. If you oppose regulation, then you are not really defending the Second Amendment.

    • Hoi Polloi Boy | March 11, 2018 at 7:56 am |

      The right to drive cars or ride horses, for that matter, is not mentioned in the constitution. Gun registration is the first step to confiscation.

    • IF you were ever in the military you would know that your ‘enlistment’ did not end after 3-4 years and that you were the militia up until you TOTAL enlistment ended. As a Warrant Officer I was subject to RECALL until age 65! There were many ‘retired’, out of service folks RECALLED to AD during the desert storm era and even now many are still subject to ‘RECALL’ fill shortages in the ranks.

      All american are subject to being called to duty, so there is the militia, as you recall if you read history STANDING ARMY was to be avoided until it became apparent that one was needed for national defense. Read all you want into that sentence, but then understand as an AMERICAN CITIZEN, like it or not you ARE part of the MILITIA and subject to be called to service. Likely wont happen until a draft is reinstituted or you age out of being part of it.

      BTW DRIVING is a PRIVILEGE garnted by the individual states. there is no NATIONAL/FEDERAL driving law per se except as it regulates commerce.

    • Albert, why do they have parking lots in bars?

    • What, Again | March 11, 2018 at 10:18 am |

      The consistent ignorance to differentiate between a right and a privilege is concerning to believers in the Constitution, Americans.

      If Karl Marx didn’t write it, he can’t understand it.

    • The Militia is, by legal definition, every male citizen in good health over the age of 18 and through the age of 45, with certain exceptions and additions. The State is required to train you and ensure that you are armed according to Article I Section 8.

  7. Excellent article! I only wish that my Dad who was a USMC Drill Instructor and survivor of the Chosin Reservoir Campaign could have been here to read it too!

  8. Mike Putfus | March 11, 2018 at 1:04 pm |

    Noah Webster put it in a pamphlet urging ratification of the Constitution, “Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe.” A well regulated Militia being an armed citizen would prevent that from happening. George Mason, James Madison, and all the framers said the same thing “militia” included all of the people capable of bearing arms. Not a Federal or State Military.

  9. The constitution is a piece of paper that the Supreme Court can has already significantly changed with the votes of 5 misguided individuals but the Second Amendment is a right we can enforce on our own by simply buying and owning guns. The individual`s right of self defense predates our constitution which merely acknowledges its importance to self-government.

    • Jerome R Petruk | March 11, 2018 at 3:17 pm |

      That the 2nd Amendment specifically state that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” is much more than “merely acknowledges” the importance of arms to self government. By its unique nature, this proves our founders had the ability of the people to overthrow a tyrannical government FRONT AND CENTER” of their thoughts on the matter. Yes, self defense is an adequate reason alone for being armed, but the founders – being exceptionally knowledgeable about the ways of tyranny – Didn’t refer to militias to thwart ordinary crime….

    • The 2nd Amendment protects all the rest of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. “Every citizen” that services America take an Oath that protects the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. It is more than a “piece of paper” it is the definition of our Liberty! The problem is that the Public School system stopped teaching government classes long ago, so many American have little or no knowledge of the Constitution. Hillsdale College has free courses about the the Bill of Rights and Constitution. Take the Course!

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