What Did the Framers of The US Constitution Say About Guns?

What Did the Framers of the US Constitution Declare about Guns?

I think, as do about 85% of my fellow hunters that the NRA is ideology driven, maniacally self-serving, and the primary representative of gun manufacturers and anyone else in the business of guns…, which means the entire world. There is big money in guns. The NRA does not represent hunters or their interests and concerns about habitat and wildlife. It is almost unanimous for those who know guns that the current idiocy of being able to buy a gun at any gun show (in 49 0f the 50 states) with no ID, no background, no nothing…. is the most egregious of their greed cloaked in veneration for the sacred cow known as the Second Amendment. It is estimated that half of the guns in the world are in America.
In no particular order, early American settlers viewed the right to arms and/or the right to bear arms and/or state militias as important for one or more of these purposes:
• deterring tyrannical government;
• repelling invasion;
• suppressing insurrection;
• facilitating a natural right of self-defense;
• participating in law enforcement;
• enabling the people to organize a militia system.
I will argue that the very nature and purpose of a democracy is to create trust in those governed and that the scope of bearing arms is therefor limited by the absence of insurrection, tyranny, invasion, or other lawlessness that would support an armed militia and/or need to bear arms.

Here is something that most people don’t know that the signers of the declaration and amendments that followed were cognizant of when considering the “right to bear arms.”

While the development of the long rifle is a distinctly American invention, its use in our war of independence was more limited than many would believe. The Long Rifles of the American Revolution, made generally by German gunsmiths in Pennsylvania, were fine works of art, with barrels often over 4 feet long and covered in fine metal work and carving. The grooves inside the barrel, called rifling giving the weapon its name and long range, had to be carved by hand, and often individually.
While its advantages as a firearm are clear to most; a rifle is accurate to over 200 yards, skilled shooters being able to hit man-sized targets at ranges of 500 yards, and a few documented instances of shots of a thousand yards. This compared to the Smooth bore musket, where the victim of a shoot was considered very unlucky at any range over 75 yards.

It is, however, the weaknesses of the rifle that forced it into an auxiliary role in the armies of the late 18th century. At the time, all firearms were muzzle loading, which means that the bullet (A round lead ball at the time), had to be pushed down from the end of the barrel. The British Brown Bess, the main firearm of the British Army, and the main weapon used by the Colonial Forces at the start of the American Revolution, was a 74 caliber, firing a 69 caliber ball. In effect, the round ball would simply drop down the barrel with little effort on the part of the loader. A wad of paper was used to seal the round in the barrel. Over several firings, a residue from the black powder would develop, resulting in more effort being needed to push the ball down the barrel.

By comparison, rifles were of lower caliber, and fired appropriately sized rounds, again lead balls. Greased leather would be used, instead of paper for the wading, guaranteeing a tight fit against the rifling grooves on the inside of the barrel. Because of this tight fit, it required a great deal more effort to force the ball down the barrel, and many riflemen actually carried wooden mallets to assist them.

The result was a trained British soldier was to be able to load and fire 3 times in one minute. Modern muzzleloaders have managed as many as 8 shots in a minute, though under ideal conditions. By comparison, a modern rifleman can rarely load and fire more often than every minute and a half, again under favorable conditions. We do not have reliable records of the loading times of the period.

This is what Ben Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson and the rest were contemplating. It gives the recipient of fire a “fair chase”… a chance to get away and or return fire, or even to subdue his attacker. If the teachers at Sandy Hook had been dealing with a musket loader they would have succeeded in stopping him.

Now compare this minimalist description with what the current justices of the Supreme Court are using to interpret the Second Amendment:
“There are three standard measurements of rate of fire for automatic weapons.

Cyclic rate

This is the mechanical rate of fire, or how fast the weapon “cycles” (loads, locks, fires, unlocks, ejects). Measurement of the cyclic rate assumes that the weapon is being operated as fast as possible and does not consider operator tasks (magazine changes, aiming, etc.). When the trigger is squeezed, the rate at which rounds are fired is the cyclic rate. Typical cyclic rates of fire are 460–900 RPM for assault rifles, 1,000-1,100 RPM in some cases, 900-1,200 RPM for submachine guns and machine pistols, and 600-1,200 RPM for machine guns. M134 Miniguns mounted on helicopters can achieve rates of fire of over 50 rounds per second (3,000 RPM).

Sustained or Effective rate

This is the rate at which the weapon could reasonably be fired indefinitely without failing. In contrast to the cyclic rate, the sustained rate is the actual rate at which the weapon would typically be fired in combat. Sustained rate considers several factors, time spent reloading, aiming, changing barrels if necessary, and allowing for some cooling. Knowing the sustained rate of fire is useful to know for logistics and supply purposes. Machine guns are typically fired in short bursts rather than in long continuous streams of fire, although there are times when they must be fired in very long bursts. Sustained rate also applies to box magazine fed assault rifles and semi-automatic rifles. In these weapons it refers to the rate at which the typical rifleman can effectively engage targets in a combat situation. The rate is usually 12-15 rpm, except for barrel changes it considers most of the same factors as for the belt fed MGs.”

There are few people who actually know what 1,000 round per minute (8-9 per second) means in terms of lethality. It is impossibly difficult to imagine unless you have seen one. I have at the local gun range. Their only obvious purpose is to out kill the other combatants who are unfortunate to be engaged with them. If thought of it in terms of domestic contexts, their only purpose is to be able to kill more people before a counterforce is applied. This is precisely what happened at Sandy Hook and if the killer’s AR-15 had not jammed we would have had even more dead kids. But the framers of the constitution could not have imagined in their wildest dreams that teachers may have to fight unarmed against 1,000 rounds per minute any more than they could foretell the invention of the Internet. Does this mean they were short sighted?? I think not.

Here is what I have proposed for some time:
(1) We need an absolute ban on all automatic rifles and pistols. The government should mandate their surrender and compensate the owners accordingly.
(2) Anyone owning a gun of any kind needs to pass a psychological evaluation like that used on police cadets in most states today.
(I was involved in constructing a test battery profile that would predict rogue cops in Oakland PD in the1980’s. This screening has been very successful and is used in some form across the land.)
(3) Anyone owning a gun needs to be re-evaluated every few years just like a driver’s license. Anyone owning a gun needs to be available for review by mental health agencies for major depression, a diagnosis of severe personality disorder, and/or schizophrenia. (When the Fort Hood psychiatrist in Texas killed his colleagues I did some research and found that every single mass murderer had been diagnosed with at least major depression). Any condition that is predictive of violence, lack of impulse control, etc. would require treatment and surrender of guns until patient has been successfully treated.

I think this is of urgency since the mass murderer is similar in profile to the suicide bomber. They are as a group lonely, isolated, depressed people who feel the world has mistreated them terribly. Their primary motive is to make the world listen to their internal wounds, which is why the ante will keep getting raised. The name Lanza should not have been publicized. This was a mistake. It supports the next killer’s motive to become known and seen as unique, which is why we may have kindergartners victimized next, or even nursery rooms.
I hope that Biden does not cave to the special interests and just buy more guns. The last thing we need is to fight guns with guns in our own homes. This will just set up an endless escalation cycle. We need a radical change with massive action taken.

Don Crowe, PhD
12/24/12

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Posted on January 31, 2013, in Mental Health. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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