Friday, December 21, 2012

A Solution to America's Gun Control Issues

We all know that despite President Obama's wishful thinking, compromise over changes to gun possession legislation in America is not going to come easily.  To that end, I would like to make the following proposal, one that will meet the desires of both sides of the spectrum; the liberals end up with some of their much coveted restrictions on firearms and the conservatives end up with firearms.

First, a bit of background information for my non-American readers.  The key part of the U.S. Constitution that the pro-gun side of the argument uses as a basis for their case is found in the Second Amendment.  The Second Amendment was adopted on December 15th, 1791 and is part of the United States Bill of Rights.

The Second Amendment states the following:

 "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."

Congress passed a version with a capital "S" on the word State and the States ratified a version with a lower case "s" in the same word and a couple of commas missing.

As we now know, the language of this Amendment has created considerable debate about its intended scope.  One theory states that this Amendment created an individual constitutional right for  all citizens of the United States to bear arms; this is known as the "individual right theory".  Other scholars claim that the key phrase "A well regulated Militia" suggests that the Framers of the Amendment intended to restrict Congress from legislating away a state's right to self-defence; this is known as the "collective rights theory".  The collective rights theory asserts that individual citizens do not necessarily have the right to possess guns and that various levels of government have the authority to regulate firearms.  Interestingly, James Madison's initial proposal in June 1789 was worded as follows:

That would appear to be a much clearer version of the Second Amendment, however, it was not adopted without adding confusion to the issue.

Now, let's look at a couple of YouTube videos.  The first video shows the process of loading a flintlock pistol, a weapon that was common in the late 18th century, around the time that the Second Amendment was drafted and adopted:

Admittedly, the gentleman in the video is loading the ball rather slowly as he is talking, however, in the best of conditions, I cannot imagine it taking much less than 20 seconds.  According to my research on various websites, soldiers in the early 19th century were capable of between two and three shots per minute on a good day.

In case you were wondering, here is a video showing the loading of a flintlock long rifle:

Here is a link to a very interesting webpage that shows, in great detail, how a flintlock mechanism works.

Now, let's step several light years ahead and look at two additional videos.  The first video shows how rapidly a Bushmaster Model .223 AR-15 semi-automatic rifle can be fired:

Here is a video showing a gentleman rapid firing a Sig Sauer 9 mm pistol:

The Bushmaster Assault Rifle has a 30 round magazine and is priced at between $700 and $1100.  The Bushmaster is capable of firing 45 rounds per minute in semiautomatic mode. The Sig Sauer 9mm comes in several models and retails for just over $1100, depending on the dealer.  It has a magazine with a capacity of 20 rounds and can fire up to 300 rounds per minute.

Now for my win-win proposal.  Since the horseback-riding Framers of the Second Amendment clearly did not have the foresight that allowed them to envision a firearm that could fire 10 rounds a minute let alone tens or hundreds, perhaps we should return to their vision of "arms".  Every American would be allowed to purchase a given number of flintlock pistols and rifles and an unlimited supply of lead balls, sticking to the letter of the Second Amendment individual rights theory.  While this clearly would not solve all gun-related crimes, at the very least, this proposal would solve the problem of mass shootings; unless a shooter entered his target area of choice with several loaded flintlock firearms, it would be very easy for a crowd of people to overwhelm the shooter while he was taking the time to reload his cumbersome and generally inaccurate at long distances weapon and deliver a bit of "country justice".

Hey, it's only a suggestion!  Is this proposal any worse than what our elected leaders will come up with?


  1. I guess the Framers never invisioned airplanes used as topedoes or bombs. So maybe we should go back to horse and buggy. The Framers were brilliant in assuring the freedom to protect oneself from enemies as well as from a tryannical government take over, would be everlasting. IMHO

    1. What a pathetic comment.

      The US has a very strong established democracy and as such, like every other developed western country, does not need a law of arms to protect it from a 'tyrannical government take over'.

    2. It is not a democracy. It is a republic because people like you are niave twits and could not handle the responsibility associated with true democracy.

    3. "The US has a very strong established democracy . . . government take over". Whoever said this is as delusional and ignorant of history as the people who believe the current administration will become a tyranny.
      "It is not a democracy. It is a republic because people" by a dictionary, republic and democracy are effectively identical, STOP applying party bias to your use of the language.

    4. BUY a dictionary...

  2. Love the blog. Abuse of rights and free speech should be mocked.

  3. The internet wasn't considered either. Here's a win-win: take away your blog and replace it with unlimited hand typeset printing presses.

    1. This comment hits the nail on the head. The "solution" presented in this post is juvenile at best.

      The First amendment wasn't written with the radio, TV, or the internet in mind, so perhaps government-sponsored censorship of the same is perfectly OK... Especially if the content takes a political stance. Yes, the government should censor anything political, or which casts the government, or any political group in a poor light.

      That's damn scary, isn't it? There, now you know how gun owners feel.

  4. That's a very dangerous concept to introduce. It sounds nice, but when you do allow a technology level restriction into law, everything else can be technologically restricted or regulated.
    The internet, computers, cars and tv products/industries can all be immediately be looped away from 1st amendment and 4th amendment protection the moment weapons are because they weren't around in the time of the creation of the founding fathers.

  5. This is a very compelling point about historical context of the Second Amendment. I am curious to know what reasoning was used to justify making semi-automatic weapons--weapons designed entirely for warfare--so easily accessible to civilians. It's disturbing. Oh, I know! They must have anticipated a zombie takeover, in which case a semi-automatic might be useful. And the only time that airplanes are used to drop bombs and torpedos is during WARFARE. The comment above obscures the distinction between a war--where people on both sides are armed and are trying to destroy each other--and a time/place where peace rather than war prevails, like in our country.

  6. The guy was making a point by making a somewhat ironic "modest proposal" - commenters who take him too literally are missing the point, which is a good one. When people try to imagine the intent of the framers, it is helpful to know what technology was available in the day. But on another related topic: it does seem odd to me that the constitution is not allowed to evolve - people in America seem to be frightened of themselves, afraid that they cannot self-govern responsibly - that the government they elect is a potentially evil thing to be mistrusted. Europeans tend to have evolving democracies rather adherence to a sacred text. IMO a more sane approach. This may be a simplistic observation to be sure - there are many variables in play - but don't dismiss it because it's just one among many variables.

    1. The ignorance of the constitution is what is frightening, "When people try to imagine the intent of the framers, it is helpful to know what technology was available in the day." REALLY, I guess the 1st Amendment should not apply to TV or the internet, Founding Fathers could never have imagined that! Stupid stupid stupid. But what is even more ignorant is " it does seem odd to me that the constitution is not allowed to evolve" Go back to sixth grade. The FF gave us explicit ways to change the constitution, and we as a country have done so 17 times in the last 200 years. That's the biggest lie perpetrated by the left, They could legally amend the 2nd amendment, but they don't have the heart to try the right way, so they demean and insult while trying an end run around the constitution. The framers didn't know what technology would evolve, but they knew certain rights were important enough that they needed to be defended, and that change needed to be endorsed by the states.

  7. I've been thinking of something very similar - considering that most of these massacres are only committed by one (occasionally two) people, a single-shot weapon, or something with a similar rate of fire, would be able to deter such a threat without the potential of unloading on a crowd.

    I appreciate your lesson about the historical context of the 2nd amendment and the guns that existed back then, and I think it clever to suggest that everyone should go back to flintlocks again to solve the problem.

    However, flintlock weapons can be dangerous for their users: misfiring, accidental firing, and the hazards of sparks and handling black powder make flintlock weapons unreliable and hazardous.

    I would argue that replacing the flintlock idea with bolt-action or break-action (even lever-action) weapons would make your solution much more reasonable. With a relatively small increase to the rate of fire, these weapons come with an increase in user safety and reliability, as well as availability in the current market.

    I understand that your suggestion may have been presented partly in jest, but I think that this really could be a step in the right direction.

  8. No, the framers of the constitution did not envision semi-automatic weapons. They envisioned the weapons of their day, weapons that could protect the people of this country from other weapons of their day. Utter non-sense to compare flint locks to todays weapons. They didn't expect the citizens to throw rocks at those with guns back then, so why would that logic make sense today?

  9. The blog is excellent. The point being not that guns should revert to black powder or flint-lock at all, it's why on earth and for what possible situation/purpose would a civilian require a military spec or any type of a semi-automatic capable weapon?

    Afterall hunting rifles only need to be single shot. If you can shoot! Which animal requires a semi automatic assault rifle to dispatch it?

    In the UK one has to demonstrate why you need to own a firearm and semi-automatics are forbidden. Where is the problem? If you wish to shoot targets/hunt, you apply for a firearm licence.

    The other problem, if tighter controls ever did come into law is the daunting one of how you deal with the 270,000,000 guns currently in circulation among the civlilian population.

    In the US you must simply ban semi-automatic weapons. How can their ownership by civilians be justified? Someone please explain to me why?

    1. Next to the original blog post, this is the most logical comment here.

      I fully agree with ban semi-automatic weapons. Or as an alternative (and possibly easier to enforce) ban the sale of ammunition clips and drums. Could gun manufacturers can make/sell adaptation devices that allow these weapons to fire only ONE bullet before a manual reload?

      People get to keep their 'intimidating' guns and the manufacturers get to sell additional goods.

  10. The irony is that many of those who insist on a broadest possible interpretation of the first amendment also tend to insist on the narrowest possible interpretation of the second.

    The worst domestic terrorist act (Oklahoma City bombing) was committed without a single shot being fired. The worst international terrorist act committed on US soil (9/11) also did not involve any firearm. Even the worst mass killing at a school in US history (Bath Consolidated School bombing, 1927) was carried out with an explosive charge rather than bullets. We can ban all the semi-auto rifles we want, mass killings will still happen so long as someone is sufficiently motivated to do so (perhaps guided by a desire for notoriety, which the media all too obligingly provides), and no one manages to get in his way in time.

    Contrary to media hype, firearm technology has not changed substantially since World War I, and American gun owners have had relatively unimpeded access to modern firearms throughout much of the past century, yet mass shootings at schools only became a national phenomenon in the last two decades, during a period of more stringent gun control legislations. Clearly something other than firearm access is propelling these events, something that is unlikely to be affected significantly by even more restrictive gun legislations.

    If millions of Americans must allow their second amendment rights to be infringed upon due to the actions of a handful of criminal lunatics, then logically none of us should complain if we are ever asked to curtail our first amendment rights whenever someone is caught abusing the latter. Once we head down that trail, we will be in for an endless shifting of goal posts.

    Climbing back up a slippery slope is infinitely more difficult than not stepping onto it in the first place. This is the operating attitude of the NRA, who is to the second amendment what the ACLU is to the first. As rights advocate organizations, neither has the option to compromise on their principles, yet this is precisely what their critics continue to demand of them.

    Those who find it absurd that Americans should need guns to protect themselves against a tyrannical government are missing the point. The framers attached the amendment not to encourage rebellion against the order they themselves had established (why would they?), but to ensure that there will always be a deterrent against the establishment of a tyrannical government in the future. Yes, we still have a relatively vibrant democracy today, but who is to say that it will still be here 100 years from now, 200 years from now? The second amendment was not written to protect hunting and recreational shooting; it is the muscle behind the first amendment brain. Just because you don't feel like you need it today doesn't mean that you won't need it tomorrow. Think carefully what you are giving up, and are insisting upon others, now and in the future, to give up, in order to buy you a (false) sense of safety at this very moment.

    In times like these, it bears quoting Ben Franklin again: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety".

    The Founders warned us against building an empire abroad and had instituted numerous provisions to help preserve freedom at home. Some of our current leaders seem all too eager to do the exact opposite. Sadly, a large block of the voting public seems to view this as progress.

    1. What utter nonsense. The NRA is funded by gun manufacturers to maintain a profitable industry and since the mid 70's and the deregulation of gun control 300 million gun permits are in existence. the ACLU is not a profit making business interest lobby group and is sustained by civil rights lawyers and private donation. Get your facts straight.

    2. Well said. I think its interesting that with the ever increasing gang presence from Mexico and the South Americas (MS-13, Latin Kings, etc) where the chances increase that southern USA becomes little Mexico coupled with the increasingly desperate and questionable government that an American has more reasons now than ever to own a gun. A militia is still a formidable fighting force. At some point you just have to come to your own conclusion using your own reason.

      As for following the example of 'other Western governments', open your eyes. Look at the corruption in Greece. Spain has been protesting and rioting. is corrupt. Its just a matter of how much.

    3. As for restrictions on the amendments, there are restrictions on the first amendment, i.e. shouting fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire. The restriction is to protect innocents from harm. If one were to yell fire in a crowded theater, when there was no fire, panic may ensue and people hurt in the rush to exit, so restrictions on the amendments are within the government's privilege.

    4. @Anonymous of 11 January 11:56 AM:

      As it turns out, there are restrictions on firearms ownership, roughly of the same encumbering effect of the restrictions on free speech:

      - Age 18 for rifles, 21 for handguns;

      - Must be able to pass a criminal background check - if you're a felon, no gun for you.

      - Fully-automatic weapons (i.e. machine guns) are exceedingly difficult and expensive to purchase and own;

      - The time and manner of firearms use is also restricted (no firing inside city limits of most places unless at a range);

      ...and so on.

  11. FYI -most handguns are also semiautomatics. Many shotguns used for hunting/target shooting are semiautomatics. Most hunting rifles are of a larger more powerful caliber than the dreaded AR15. The number you gave above of 270,000,000 guns compared to the number of individuals who actually commit crimes against the innocent says alot to me.

  12. How can semiautomatic weapon ownership be justified? Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't it during WWII that american citizens were shipping their own semiautomatic weapons to the citizens of the UK?

  13. Canada has restrictions on guns and much less gun related crime!!!!!!!! eh


  14. Afterall hunting rifles only need to be single shot. If you can shoot! Which animal requires a semi automatic assault rifle to dispatch it?<<

    Bear, wild boar, most large animals. They are hard to stop and we are so tender and tasty.

    For the guy that suggested a bolt action or lever gun as slower alternative. A good bolt action is
    easily good for more than 20 shots a minute and the
    Confederate army rightly feared the Henry Rifle (lever gun) for its capacity and speed of shooting.
    I've hunted and target shot with a 1894 30/30 saddle
    rile and it's not hard to fire very fast and accurately with one, by fast at least 40+ rounds per minute. The reload is also fast.

    Seriously the smaller the gun the more bullets you need in a defensive situation. The .223 is not large. I can hear the snark and snide and outright name calling now. It's not me or my paranoia, it's just the facts.

    The interpretation of the Second Amendment.. State
    means the then and still valid concept of government
    to be protected. The second part of that is to do so the people, us civilians, shall be free to arm in order to protect that and all other civil disturbances that would disrupt the peace. It's not hard to argue that if you want to be gun free fine but if bad juju visits your responsible but unable.
    The police will eventually arrive of course and identify the result.

    Of course I expect name calling and ad hominem attacks. I also believe in free speech but threats are not free speech.


  15. That is the dumbest thing I have ever read.

  16. The Constitution and all ten Amendments don't add up to a hill of beans in the 21st Century (nor did they for most of the 20th for that matter). What counts now is the process of judicial review. The current SC has a loose attitude toward gun control. OK, no prob. I just hope all the ranting NRA pant-pissers are ready to be just as supportive of the next SC decision when it falls on the other side of the fence.

  17. Sounds good as long as the feds and all their available forces went flintlock too.

  18. This solution has been brought up over and over again: the framers envisioned muskets, so why not allow people to 'freely' keep and bear just those? There are two dealbreaking holes in this argument:

    1. By any reading of the second amendment, including unpassed versions and supporting documents such as Federalist 46, the concept is to create an armed citizenry that will be a deterrent to an ambitious government with a centralized army. This is necessary for the security of a free State. How can 2A properly work, then, if citizens are left so technologically hampered? The only way this might work would be to get the US Armed Forces to follow suit, and this is certainly an impractical solution to have our Air Force reduced to carrier pigeons, our armies toting musket and ball in the 21st century.

    2. Also, how would this 'win-win' proposal stop mass shootings? Law abiding citizens may turn in their AR's and buy flintlocks, but criminals would not. This would leave citizens practically defenseless, forced to rely on police, after waiting 10-15 minutes for them to arrive in conflicts that are usually over within one minute.

    I have really carefully considered this idea, but I can't see it as anything other than 'lose-lose'. I welcome the rebuttal.

  19. Being a man of average intelligence, I have little difficulty imagining a near future world I could hardly recognize because of technological advancement. I find it odd someone would assume that none of the greatest minds in American history, men who lived only a few generations after the Renaissance and were witnessing the beginning of the industrial revolution, couldn't possibly have as much foresight as an average Joe like me. Hmmmmnn.

  20. The better way to have control.

  21. there is no solution to american gun control, people in USA is mad about guns

  22. May be there is no solution to American gun control, we should reduce misuse of guns. Thanks for sharing such a valuable post.