Gun Control: The Short History

From Flaming Zombie Monkeys

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 such a clear and unambiguous use of the English language I am surprised that even a liberal loon can misconstrue it. Which of course, simply means that they have even lower reading comprehension than a 2d grader. They’ve been at this for a while as we’ll see.

Tench Coxe said this in 1788.

“Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom? Congress shall have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American … The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the People.”

Strikes me as pretty damned clear what it says and what they meant. You have a right to buy any weapon you want for your defense. How did we get this so messed up? Like so much else, look at the Progressives. In fact, the best place to start is the Progressives great early victory which of course turned to ashes in their mouths: Prohibition.

The connection will become clear, stick with me here

Prohibition led to a lot of organized crime and made it grow very large, not least because the politicians wanted their booze as much as anyone, the amendment was passed during World War I, and was not unconnected with the Wilson Administration’s demonization of everything German (beer was the most common alcoholic beverage then as now). Like always when the government destroyed a market for a popular product they instantly created a black market.

Therefore sensing a huge profit to be made, what organized crime there was (mostly gambling and prostitution, near as I can tell) swung into action, importing and making (mostly very bad) booze to satisfy the demand. Some of the rum-runners you’ve probably heard of, Joe Kennedy was one, that’s where the family got rich enough to make him an ambassador and his sons President and senators. Lucky Luciano, and Al Capone were others who we not so genteel acting, they had a bit to do with establishing ‘the Chicago way’. You’ve probably heard of some of the outrages such as the St. Valentine’s Day massacre and such.

This nonsense went on all through prohibition which ended (mostly because of the depression, the government wanted the excise taxes back). In 1933 the 21st Amendment was passed repealing the 18th Amendment.

But something had changed.

The country had gotten far more violent with the gangs using Thompson submachine guns and such weapons, and since the depression was on (and would be until World War II) people like Bonnie and Clyde and John Dillinger were using these types of weapons as well.

Incidentally the Thompson (a very nice and expensive weapon to manufacture) had been designed for use in the trench warfare of the western front much like Stoner designed the M-16 with an eye on Vietnam.

These weapons were commonly available, if you wanted a Thompson, or for that matter a Caliber 50 Browning machine gun, your neighborhood hardware store could probably get it for you, like as not you could even order it from Sears. Same thing with dynamite, and all sorts of things, they were legal just as they always had been.

In any case, the Progressives, like always, decided to fight the symptom (the guns) instead of the problem, the depression. So they passed the National Firearms Act of 1934, if I read right, it was found unconstitutional, but after FDR cowed the Supreme Court it was passed again as the NFA of 1938.

And so, in direct contravention of the Founder’s intent, the American people were partially disarmed, no fully automatic weapons, no explosives, no artillery for that matter. By the way one of the big arguments for the law was that they had no sporting purpose. Sound familiar? And there the matter rested until the ’60s.

In the sixties we had a series of high profile assassinations starting with President Kennedy, you do remember that he was killed by a shooter using a bolt action rifle without a removable, let alone high-capacity, magazine, although it did have a bayonet lug, don’t you? Something like 5 shots in about 3 seconds, if I remember.

The result of this was the Gun Control Act of 1968 which restricted mostly commerce in guns, and required background checks and such, all the stuff we have become accustomed to, restricting our right to defend ourselves. Obviously as usual, it does absolutely nothing about criminals obtaining weapons and ammunition, only the law abiding. Again our politicians decided to do something, anything about the problem, even if, or maybe especially, because it would mostly inconvenience  the law-abiding citizen. Sense a pattern here?

Yep, me too, make the citizen more and more dependent on the government. Can’t be having those old-fashioned self-reliant Americans in our brave new world.

And so we got to ’94 and the Brady bill, passed in the wake of the attempt on President Reagan‘s life. What these cosmetic features had to do with a short range assassination attempt with a cheap handgun I have no idea, but there you are. Eventually it expired.

And so now, because we can’t figure out a way to keep crazy people off the streets, our right to self-defense is under attack again. The thing that is different this time is that very few people have any trust whatsoever in the government, and so it is beginning to look a lot like England leading up to King John being forced to sign Magna Charta by the Barons already under arms.

Our so-called betters in Washington would be well advised to note that the United States resembles nothing so much now as an armed camp, if they attempt to register weapons, it will be evaded, if they try to force confiscation it will likely lead to civil war. If they can’t manage to win in Afghanistan, what really makes them think they can coerce the American people.

Let’s finish with a sampling of gun laws, that worked for the safety of the realm.

  • “In 872, under the laws of Alfred the Great, all English citizens were required to purchase their own weapons and be available for military duty.
  • In 1181, ‘the whole community of freemen’ between the ages of 15 and 40 were required by law to possess arms.
  • In 1253, that duty was extended to include the serfs and raised the age requirement to 60 years of age.
  • In 1285, Edward I commanded that all persons comply with the earlier laws and also added that ‘anyone else who can afford them shall keep bows and arrows.’
  • In 1369, the King ordered that the sheriffs of London require all citizens at leisure time on holidays to use in their recreation bows and arrows and to stop all other games which might distract them from this practice.
  • In the colonies, availability of hunting and need for defense led to armament statutes comparable to those of the early Saxon times.
  • In 1623, Virginia forbade its colonists to travel unless they were ‘well armed’;
  • In 1631, it required colonists to engage in target practice on Sunday and to ‘bring their peeces to church’.
  • In 1658, it required every householder to have a functioning firearm within his house and,
  • In 1673, its laws provided that a citizen who claimed he was too poor to purchase a firearm would have one purchased for him by the government, which would require him to pay a reasonable price when able to do so. In Massachusetts, the first session of the legislature ordered that not only freemen, but also indentured servants own firearms, and,
  • In 1644 it imposed a stern 6 shilling fine upon any citizen who was not armed.”
    W. Cleon Skousen from The Making of America p. 696.

Just for your amusement, I’m not a big fan of concealed carry, I think it has a deterrent effect for every citizen in good standing, to be openly armed. I am a big fan of open carry.

About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

7 Responses to Gun Control: The Short History

  1. Wonderful post!
    Actually, one of the more informative ones on this subjective which I’ve read.
    Many thanks……..


  2. Good history to have at ones fingertips, my friend!


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