The Right to Bear Arms: Purchasing Power — Part 1


When this nation was founded in the late Eighteenth Century the predominant weapon used by an infantryman was a flintlock musket. A proficient musketeer could load and fire his weapon two or, maybe, three times in a minute. The weapon had an effective range of about 100 yards.

The American Long Rifle (Kentucky rifle, Pennsylvania rifle) was accurate — could hit a man-sized target — at a range of 200-250 yards, but was slower to reload than the musket. The slower reloading times were due to tighter tolerances required for the bullet to make use of the rifling — spiral grooves which caused the bullet/ball to spin and thus increasing its accuracy.

Pistols were also single-shot weapons requiring similar load times of the era’s muskets and rifles — the six-shooter weapons of our Western movies had not yet made an appearance on the scene.

These were the weapons in use when our “founding fathers” wrote and adopted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (including the 2nd Amendment).

There were no semi-automatic or automatic pistols and rifles capable of firing several rounds a second or hundreds of rounds a minute. And yet, deaths in battles and wars still reached into the hundreds and thousands.

These were still the basic weapons used during the American Civil War of the 1860s. The opposing armies were each made up of tens of thousands of men and boys — and casualties in a single day “often” exceeded 10,000.

It seems to me that most of the mass-shootings in the US over the last several years have occurred at close ranges; i.e., at distances of less than 50-100 yards. The shootings at schools such as Sandy Hook Elementary and Douglas High School occurred at ranges of less than 50 yards. Thus, it is not the weapon’s accuracy but its rate of fire that is important.


A large infantry platoon might contain 50 men. In the late 1700s such a group of soldiers might fire their muskets a combined 100 to 150 times in a single minute. Today, a single individual, using an AR-15 type semi-automatic rifle can fire a like number times per minute — limited only by the strength of his trigger finger and the time it takes him to reload (change ammunition clips).

How might Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Hamilton and Madison and other “founding fathers” have written the 2nd Amendment to the U. S. Constitution had the weapons of today been in existence in the 1790s?


Perhaps, just perhaps, we should visit that question again.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the 2nd Amendment should be repealed and another, better suited to the weapons of today, adopted in its place.

And perhaps, just perhaps, Mr. Trump is more right than he realizes; perhaps we need to examine the mental health of our entire society. A society which places the “right to bear arms” above the lives of its children.