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 The Right to Bear Muskets (1791) and Bear Machine Guns ?(2018)  


By John Freivalds

Duluth News Tribune/Minneapolis Sun Sailor

Published 3/1/2018

The Second Amendment was passed in 1791 giving the right for ordinary citizens to bear arms.  Our congressman Eric Paulsen has accepted 34,000 in contributions form the NRA according to a full page ad in the Feb. 21   NY Times. He favors the NRA contention that we can't mess with the second amendment particularly in a state that has thousand of hunters. I have nothing against guns and have several myself but an A-15?

 I have guns including a stainless steel Martin hunting rifle and at home I have a 38 caliber revolver which seems more like handheld cannon than a handgun .But even with this tiny legal arsenal I have more firepower than any patriot had in 1791 when the Second Amendment was passed.  Remember that was the era of the front loaded musket which had a barrel of 3.5 feet -- not a concealed weapon.  With practice, an accomplished marksman could load 3 rounds per minute. And, Hollywood movies notwithstanding, it was highly inaccurate.  That is why soldiers would stand together and let loose a barge of bullets hoping they would hit their target at a rate of 3 rounds per minute.

The flavor of choice for the Florida School shooter (he had 10 guns at home) was an AR-15 which fires 90 rounds per minute semi-automatic and 800 rounds per minute full automatic.  A knowledgeable gunsmith can easily make the conversion. Nowhere does the second amendment say we have a right to automatic weapons. And we can revel in the fact that a mass shooting has not happened here in our leafy suburbs but it will. Here's the really hard part for me.

During the Vietnam War the M-16, the forerunner of the AR-15, was the weapon issued to American GI's.  According to a Wikipedia notation, in non automatic use it fired at a rate of 65 rounds per minute.  Let's repeat that -- the weapons that soldiers used in Vietnam fired at a slower rate than the AR-15 you can now buy a at a gun store And it is more reliable for the M-16 had a "failure to extract" malfunction.  Spent cartridges would get stuck in the chamber due to faulty gunpowder.  In fact, some military types I know said we could have "won" the Vietnam War if we had weapons as reliable as the modern day AR-15.

To summarize, in 1791 you could get a musket that you could load and fire at 3 rounds per minute. Today you can get an AR-15 that shoots 90 rounds per minute and can be modified to 800 rounds per minute and is better than the rifle that was used by US soldiers during Vietnam.

And these days to get an AR-15, 9 ($500 will get you a good one) all you need to remember is writing "No" in the gun shop questionnaire that asks if you are a convicted felon.