Would Founders be ‘horrified’ by today’s firearms technology?

“Triple-barrelled cannon found in Croatian fort is 'machine gun' forerunner designed by Leonardo Da Vinci,” the UK’s Mail Online reports.

“The cannon was discovered in a Croatian fort, but only now has it been confirmed it was designed more than 500 years ago by the artist and inventor,” we are told. “He was the first to invent a breech-loading machine gun with several cannons in rotation which meant soldiers could be firing one, loading another and cooling the third.”

The report includes a sketch from 1480.

OK, cool history. And yeah, da Vinci was one of the greatest geniuses from history. But what has this to do with the right of the people to keep and bear arms?

One of the arguments the gungrabbers use ad nauseum is that the Founders would not approve of the Second Amendment today because they could never have foreseen technological advances in personal weaponry. A common addendum is to claim they would be horrified, because the best a militia man of their day could do was fire one shot and then go through a multi-step routine to reload. His ability to get off another round was hampered by the design limitations of the day.

This, of course, is a nonsense argument, and a common rebuttal is to remind whoever is making it that the Founders were also limited to quill pens and manual printing presses (although they were availing themselves of innovations on that front, too), and to ask if that means we should not extend First Amendment protections to radio, television, computers and the Internet—after all, the Founders did not envision those either.

It’s a clever rejoinder, but the one I prefer is the one that exposes what the antis are saying not just as an example of flawed logic, but as a damned lie.

The da Vinci story helps do that. As does bringing up examples of developing firearms technology in the periods preceding and contemporaneous with the Founding era.

Put whoever tries to get away with such an unsupportable wild claim on the spot by asking them to explain pepperbox revolvers, multiple barrel handheld firearms based on a concept introduced in the 15th Century, albeit they were initially fired using a match. At the time the Constitution was adopted, pepperboxes had upgraded their technology to flintlock versions, with up to seven barrels rotated by hand.

Then ask them to explain volley guns, first used in 1339.

The Founders experienced first-hand a major technological innovation that yielded a range and accuracy advantage: long guns with rifled barrels, like Kentucky and Pennsylvania rifles, had it all over British standard-issue Brown Bess smooth bore muskets.

What this meant, in modern gungrabber language, was "the authorities were outgunned"! Thank goodness.

Not that those authorities weren’t working on innovations of their own, such as the breech-loading Ferguson rifle.

Prominent men of the Founding era were educated under the influence of the Enlightenment, and this was reflected not just in advances in physical technology, but in social technology as well, as evidenced by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Men like Franklin and Jefferson were not just politicians and statesmen, but also learned naturalists, scientists, innovators and inventors. They were at the vanguard of the technology of the day, and of pushing it to see what else could be discovered and achieved. They knew that times were changing, as theirs were the revolutionary, educated minds bringing it about.

If anyone tells you the Founders never envisioned major advances in firearms technology, chew their head off for being ignorant slow students not qualified to learn yet presuming to teach—or else intentional liars. There's no other conclusion to be drawn.

When a professional gungrabber says it, guess which category he falls into?

Reader Scott Whitmire in comments, below, writes "Don't forget the Puckle gun-a crank operated revolving piece with interchangeable, 11 round cylinders. Patented about 80 years before ratification of the constitution, it's almost certain the founders knew of it."

Indeed. And I did forget. Thanks for the reminder.


Gunwalker hearings today

From the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform:

The Full Committee hearing entitled, "Obstruction of Justice: Does the Justice Department Have to Respond to a Lawfully Issued and Valid Congressional Subpoena?" will take place at 1:00pm on Monday, June 13th in room 2154 of Rayburn House Office Building.

The hearing will be streamed live at http://oversight.house.gov.

Read more here.

It will be an interesting day.


WarOnGunsRadio debuts today

It's going to get even more interesting, for me at least, and hopefully for you. My daily drive-time radio gig on NBC 1260 in the Scottsdale AZ market launches this morning. We’ll be discussing today’s Gun Rights Examiner column, go on “Weiner Watch” (not literally), ask if the “Only Ones” really should be and more. Then I’ll be joined in the second half by Mike Vanderboegh of Sipsey Street Irregulars to do a sort of “pre-game show” for today’s Gunwalker hearings.

If you’re not in the broadcast range, the station website has a “Listen Live” link in their menu. I know there is a plan to provide an archive, but will have to get back to you on that when I know the particulars.


Help wanted--inquire within

Regular readers: If you agree that mainstream press coverage of the gun rights issue demands a counter-balance, please help me spread the word by sharing Gun Rights Examiner links with your friends via emails, and in online discussion boards, blogs, social media sites, etc. Then get more commentary at The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance.

, Gun Rights Examiner

David Codrea is a long-time gun rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He is a field editor for GUNS Magazine, and a blogger at The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance. Email him at dcodreaAThotmailDOTcom.

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