Well, yes, sorta, maybe

The “right to keep and bear arms” was included as the second amendment to the US constitution in 1791 (Report, 17 February). Surely it would be logical to restrict that right to the types of guns available at the time: muskets and flintlock pistols? Semi-automatic guns have no place in private hands.
Elaine Yeo
Enfield, Middlesex

The logical restriction would be to what you can make at home. On the very simple grounds that you’ll never really be able to regulate that anyway.

It’s amazing what you can make with a hobby CNC machine these days. There’s even that high school student who made a nuclear bomb (sans payload, to be sure).

57 thoughts on “Well, yes, sorta, maybe”

  1. Semi-automatic guns have no place in private hands.

    Says Elaine Yeo who has obviously never been mugged or suffered a home invasion and doesn’t know what constitutes a semi-automatic weapon.

  2. I presume there already exists a cut off point as to what you can buy in a gun store. Somewhere between hunting rifle and artillery.
    Nothing to stop that cut off point being looked at again.

  3. We also need to ban stone tied to a stick and sticks with points on them.

    I know it’s a tired cliched term, but “Guns don’t kill people, people do”.

    Have a look at the knife crime stats for London to see how well people still manage to kill each other.

  4. Great idea if you limit the agencies of the State, the military and State level/local police enforcement to the same weapons.

  5. The limitation is right there in the words, the ownership of any weapon required by the militia (a quasi-military reserve) shall not be infringed. Small arms and crew served weapons fit for war. Don’t like it? Too bad.

  6. 1791. So after the invention of the percussion detonator & the notion of the self contained cartridge had been around a lot longer. Ditto the rifled barrel. So no change, then.

  7. Benaud, it used to be that members of the militia could own them, which is why many still do under grandfather clauses. But as usual, the government stepped in to illegally infringe on this right. I’m talking about what the 2A says, not what some government statist asshole wants it to say.

  8. The solution is very simple and the steps are laid out in the constitution: Repeal or modify the second amendment.

    Amendments have been added and taken away many times before, (that’s why they’re called amendments), so instead of trying to pass unconstitutional laws or bully the supreme court into making unconstitutional interpretations of existing laws simply go through the process as laid out by the Founders to repeal or change the constitution.

    And if you can’t do that then STFU.

  9. The point of the second amendment was to provide protection against the government. You can argue that this is no longer needed (and the government would certainly argue such) but changing the constitution is a pain in the backside Until it is changed, people will argue that they need the same weaponry (or at least close to) as the government in order to be able to fight back should the need arise.

    (this is already somewhat curtailed in that private citizens cannot purchase or own fully automatic weapons, as I understand it – would be interesting to see the arguments made when that change went through).

    If they’re serious about gun control, they need to change the constitution, and if they can actually do so that will prove that the people are behind them on this. If not enough of the populace agrees, then they’re stuch with it.

  10. Not much practical use worrying about what size machine gun you can have or whether a bazooka is portable/single man operable. Nor indeed about the mythical assault weapon*. Mass shootings are morally indistinguishable from single shootings but the victim count of singles is far higher. And it is done overwhelmingly with handguns. In the total deaths any kind of rifle barely gets a look-in. There are so many commentators overcome with ‘caring’ who don’t pause to define or size the problem before proposing solutions which will have no effect.

    * If it doesn’t fire full auto it’s not really an assault weapon.

  11. Bloke in North Dorset

    I love the way that 100s of constitution scholars and legal experts can’t come to a conclusion on what the framers really meant when the drafted the second amendment, but a few random Brits can wander in a proclaim themselves fit to pronounce.

    It’s easy to see why the wanted, and still want, independence.

  12. Bloke in North Dorset

    “If it doesn’t fire full auto it’s not really an assault weapon.”

    I’m pretty sure the British Army’s SLR which was used in assaults in during the Falklands campaign, but it didn’t have full auto.

    Semi auto is needed but full auto is dangerous in an assault situation because you can very quickly run out of ammo or end up being injured and spraying your own side. Full auto is good for support weapons that are in a semi fixed position and can put down controlled and sustained fire in short bursts of 3-5 rounds.

  13. Mr Yan

    “Guns don’t kill people, people do”.

    I’ve hear that so many times and it’s just the plain wrong, way of looking at things.

    Is it the gun that kills? Is it the person holding the gun that kills?

    It’s neither!

    It’s the bullets.

    Unless the gun is being used as a club. And then you might as well extend the argument to banning baseball bats and rolling pins.

  14. The clue is in the name. SLR, self-loading rifle. Used in assaults is not the criterion, or Lee-Enfield or Brown Bess would qualify. The class of assault rifles is usually assumed to mean the ones with a less powerful round giving the ability to fire full auto or bursts in a submachine gun role. The AR15s and AK47 clones which are the objects of assault weapon fuss in the US are full auto in the military version but not the ones you can buy at Cabela’s. Where they will sell you a .50 cal Barrett for five thousand bucks.

  15. @BiND
    You’re ignoring the reason the “assault” type weapon was developed in the first place. To fire a lot of bullets in a short period as suppressive fire. Because it was realised that aimed fire doesn’t hit much.

  16. The real difference between 1791 and 2018 is not really about the gun technology. It’s about population density.

    In 1790, nearly all of the USA was rural. There were five cities with more than 10,000 people in, and only two with more than 25,000 (New York and Philadelphia).

    Now, there are 10 cities with over a million population and 307 over 100,000.

    In areas that are still as rural as the USA was in 1790, gun ownership is still pretty uncontroversial and unproblematic. Of course, in areas that rural, you tend to want to have a gun for protection against the wildlife.

    All through history, places with high population density (ie cities) have sought to restrict people from being armed, going back at least to the prohibition of weapons inside the pomerium of Rome – the only people permitted to carry a weapon inside the pomerium were the lictors (personal guards) of a dictator (which was a special elected office in Rome during emergencies; Romans would have said “tyrant” for what we call a dictator). Thuycidides similarly describes Athens banning the carrying of weapons in the city.

    There are good reasons why people in rural areas want guns and good reasons why people in urban areas don’t want their neighbours to have guns. Those reasons were the same when the weapons being banned were swords and spears.

  17. Solid Steve 2: Squirrels of The Patriots

    Oi, mate!
    [Acid attack]
    Have you thought about…
    [Van ploughs into pedestrians]
    Sorting out that…
    [Tube station explodes]
    Gun situation, yeah?
    [Stabbed by random Muslim because it’s Ramadan]
    Come on…
    [Arrested by Metropolitan Police for mean tweet about goatfucking rapists]
    It’s 2018!
    [Gets beheaded in broad daylight in London]

  18. Regarding this:

    ‘There’s even that high school student who made a nuclear bomb (sans payload, to be sure).’

    I think you may be referring to the late David Hahn of Union Lake, MI, the so-called ‘radioactive boy scout’. I knew David slightly at around the time that he did what he did, and while he built a device capable of sustained nuclear reactions, it never came within a thousand miles of being a ‘bomb’, or anything like it. His goal was to build a breeder reactor, not a bomb. Not to be pedantic or anything, just getting it right.



  19. “It’s easy to see why the wanted … independence.” Actually it’s not easy to see what the different “patriots” wanted: what is genuine, what pretext? As far as I can see two things united them: (i) a desire to avoid paying their taxes, and (ii) a desire by some politicians that they should wield power rather than the MPs in Westminster.

    Otherwise their motives seem to have included quite a scatter: to welch on debts to London merchants, to secure slavery, to fight a jihad against an imaginary threat of having Anglicanism imposed on them, to keep land illegally claimed in the Ohio valley, to break treaties and kill Injuns whenever they felt like it, and no doubt many others.

  20. Ignoring the 2nd/gun control is the CAUSE of the problem.

    Had the employees of the Florida school been bearing arms, or even the deterrent of the belief that they could be bearing arms, the attack would have never happened.

    ‘Gun control’ is the CAUSE of the problem. If the people were free to be armed, you wouldn’t have any of this shit.

    Gun control is juvenile. It is not possible to keep an adult who is not locked up from getting a gun. Hence, gun control accomplishes nothing but the harassment of the law abiding.

    Demanding more gun control after a mass shooting is stupid, but the Left gets away with stupid all the time. And they get away with exploiting tragedy.

  21. Whenever the US has a multiple shooting like the other day I see comments on social media suggesting everyone gets a carry licence and has a gun on them as a solution.

    That’s one way to INCREASE the number of people shot.

    I’m pretty good with a pistol, at a distance of more than a few feet I’d hesitate to fire at someone in a room of panicked people. Those who aren’t such good shots, who panic, who simply have too much adrenaline in their body – they miss. And bullets have right of way until they stop – can shoot someone in the next room, can shoot someone you don’t have line of sight on, can kill an innocent person.

    Another common response on social media is a call for an armed security guard at each school. I ask for volunteers as its a suicide job, they must be the first person shot in any attack. That sort of problem makes people twitchy, paranoid, likely to respond first with force – and an innocent kid gets shot!

    This gun problem they have is nothing new and the bodies will continue to mount up until they finally come to their senses.

    In Europe we have stricter gun controls and a whole lot less school shootings. It often surprises the Americans that we don’t have a ban on guns, we just have more control.
    And apparently a better education system that doesn’t require violent response so much.

  22. @ Andrew C

    Well, technically it’s the trauma and blood loss caused by a bullet penetrating the body of we are going to be pedantic.

    The gun (or bullet) don’t kill people by themselves – something has to ‘pull the trigger’. That is in most cases a person although some people manage to shot themselves by accident.

    The intent to kill is an action of a person whatever they are armed with.

  23. The issue in America in many of these cases is disaffected youths, often with mental issues who have access to guns.

    There were plenty of warning signs with Nicholas Cruz, and plenty of oppurtunities to do something about him.

    However law enforcement seemingly had more important things to be going on with than checking out a violent unstable youth, who very specifically said (using his own name) that he was going to shoot up a school.

    Go figure.

  24. BinD

    You can’t control a 7.62 on full auto, there’s just too much recoil. The whole point of assault rifles is that they fire a less powerful round which is then controllable on full auto.
    AKs fire the smaller 7.62 x 39 Russian. NATO assault rifles fire 5.56mm. Both notably less pokey than a 7.62 NATO round.
    The SLR was NOT an assault rifle. It was a semi-auto battle rifle. It’s full-auto brother (FN FAL) was uncontrollable on full-auto and a much less useful thing than an SLR because of it.

  25. In Europe we have stricter gun controls and a whole lot less school shootings.

    Sure, but this assumes gun control is the only factor which explains the difference between school shootings in America vs Europe. When you look at other factors, it becomes rather doubtful that gun control has a whole lot to do with it.

  26. Piss on all gun control.

    May every one every where of those who advocate it find themselves and theirs in a desperate situation where only the possession of a gun could save their lives.

    Of course–they won’t have one.

    Too bad.

  27. I think reducing media coverage of these mass shootings to below saturation level would do a lot more to prevent future recurrences than any gun control measure you could possibly pass.

    Additionally, school shootings get all the media coverage but represent only a tiny portion of the story. It’s a matter of seen vs unseen. Every day, people across the country use firearms to defend themselves against criminals. That has to be taken into account as well. For instance:


  28. OK then Elaine, your women’s rights are now 1791 rights so shut your piehole and get into the kitchen and make me a sandwich or I’ll clout you a good one.

  29. “That’s one way to INCREASE the number of people shot.”

    That is absolutely false. It has been TESTED in dozens of states. You are an idiot, and PART OF THE PROBLEM.

  30. There are actually quite a few restrictions on firearms in the States. You can’t own a machine gun or other heavy artillery without special licenses. There are restrictions on calibers or gauges, barrel lengths and magazine capacities on hunting guns. Non-lead ammo is required in some areas. Waiting periods between purchasing and receipt of firearms is required in some areas. A person in one state cannot sell or give a firearm to a person in another state without using a licensed agent. In some states any transfer of firearms between people requires going through a licensed agent.

    The fundamental issue is that people who feel strongly about their firearms feel very strongly and vote accordingly. Sometimes that’s the only issue they care about. Those that would control them don’t feel as strongly and also vote accordingly. Politicians understand the difference. Should the latter begin to feel more strongly new laws may be adopted as politicians feel pressured to do so, and there are precedents for restrictions that apparently do not run afoul of the second.

  31. TimN,

    The M16 and M16A1 had a three-position fire selector (safe, fire, full auto) which is what you’ll see in all the Vietnam footage, including soldiers doing unaimed “Hollywood unloads”.

    The 1980s -A2 version led the vogue for three-round burst instead of full auto, which was fashionable for a while until the evidence sank in that if you’d missed with the first shot, wasting two more wasn’t going to help, while the very few occasions you really want fully-automatic fire tend to be desperation “by the time the magazine’s empty I’ll either be dead or the problem will be over”. Reaction to an ambush, or clearing enemy trenches/bunkers, were about the only cases we were taught where you’d use it: for most infantry work aimed singles got better results and let you keep fighting for longer.

    The M16A3 brought back the safe-single-full trigger group for some of the very special people, just as the M4 carbine (shortened version of the M16) originally had S-1-3 but the -A1 version (again, intended as a special weapon for special people) had S-1-F: having decided that the M16 was too long for convenient use and switched to the M4, the US Army’s now making the M4A1 universal, so going back to “full auto available when required”.

    But the definition of “assault rifle” is fraught with argument and debate: the US M2 Carbine of 1944 should really be considered as at least possibly an assault rifle (but it usually isn’t), the Soviet SKS has most of the best bits of the breed but is “just a rifle” not a scary assault gun, and for practical purposes a good civilian AR-15 from somewhere like Daniel Defense or Noveske will shoot more accurately, more reliably than a Government-issue M16 with only the lack of burst/auto fire.

    And since I like data, the massive spike in sales of all semi-automatic firearms but especially AR-15 pattern weapons after Sandy Hook (where some sort of ban or limit was widely expected) plus rampant stockpiling of ammunition, doesn’t seem to have caused a corresponding surge in “crimes committed with semi-automatic rifles”.

  32. There are actually quite a few restrictions on firearms in the States.

    Yeah, there are. I live in Illinois, and to legally purchase a firearm here, you first need to apply for a state Firearm Owner ID (FOID) card. You send in an application form with a copy of your driver’s license, a head and shoulders picture and $10 to the state police. They run background checks on you and issue the FOID card within 30 days if there are no issues – felony convictions, mental health institutionalization, etc. Then, when you go to the gun dealer to buy your weapon, the dealer has to check back with the state police to verify that the FOID is still valid. And after you pay, there is a cooling off period of 24 hours for rifles or 72 hours for pistols before you can take possession of the gun.

    Now all this sounds fine. The problem is that folks who are inclined to shoot other folks are not going to bother complying with these laws. I mean, shooting someone in a drive-by has always been illegal, but that doesn’t stop it from happening. So you end up with about 3,500 shootings in Chicago last year, and very few of them involved a valid FOID holder. It is hard to see how passing more gun laws would do much to stop crime when the gun laws we do have are so routinely ignored.

  33. Gamecock,

    The claim of “more guns, less crime” was most notably made by Trent Lott in his book of the same title: sceptical statisticians went over it and found that, while his claim didn’t seem to be strictly correct, there wasn’t a clear correlation in the opposite direction either.

    As an aside, a few years ago someone at least tried to test “what to do when a gunman attacks a school?” theories:-


    The site’s very pro-gun (and I mean VERY) but the trial and analysis are not bad.

  34. “In Europe we have stricter gun controls and a whole lot less school shootings.”
    Here in Spain you can own virtually anything the Yanks can, legally on a permit. And as we’ve open borders from here to Norway & from Calais to Constanta, that’s effectively all of Europe except a few island nations..

  35. If you go back to the original Constitution, you will see that the writers envisioned private naval combatants and militias. Look up the term “letters of marque and reprisal”. The Revolutionary War started when the British marched on Lexington to confiscate weapons and powder held there by the colonists. This attachment to the citizens holding weapons goes back a long way. If you have the right to own weapons, your are a citizen, if don’t have that right, you are a subject.

  36. “Surely it would be logical to restrict that right to the types of guns available at the time: muskets and flintlock pistols?”

    Well Elaine, let’s restrict you to the printing press and spoken communications – after all, there wasn’t even an electrical telegraph then.

    Then let’s remove abortion, birth control, vehicles that can move faster than 25 mph, flight, refrigeration, . . .

    After all – access to all those things are *rights* also and by your logic should be restricted to what was available when the Constitution was written.

  37. “Tommydog
    February 19, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    There are actually quite a few restrictions on firearms in the States.”

    You can’t really say ‘in the States’ here – the restrictions vary GREATLY from state to state and aren’t close to uniform across the country.

    Where I live, Arizona, open carry is legal, concealed carry is legal – neither require any sort of permitting. Anyone over 18 can own and carry any firearm that isn’t *Federally* restricted (ie, automatic and/or bore size larger than .50 inch) while 15 miles away in CA open carry is totally illegal, concealed carry is ‘may issue’ (ie, your local government may issue a permit – or may not, depending on how much influence you have) certain weapons are banned by name and they have a state firearms registry.

  38. The problem is that folks who are inclined to shoot other folks are not going to bother complying with these laws.

    A Texan friend of mine is a GC advocate. His argument, which I think may have some merit, is that the misfit kids doing school shootings would lack the balls and contacts to procure a gun through criminal networks of the black market, and can only get their hands on one because they’re available in shops. He might be wrong, but it’s not entirely stupid. He used to own guns too, but sold them when he had kids.

  39. Bloke in Costa Rica

    It’s amazing how people like this grubby little fascist think that they’ve come up with an incontrovertible argument when they suggest restricting guns to flintlocks etc.. Anyone who’s spent any time studying the topic knows that this argument, and its refutation, have been around for years. In fact this is one of the major complaints pro-RKBA people have with the antis. They never do their homework. Before you advance an argument with the goal of restricting the rights of a third party, it behooves you to at least minimally educate yourself on the subject. You don’t need to know the difference between DAO and DAK trigger actions, or what calibre the FN P90 is chambered in, but understanding select fire vs. semiautomatic is a sine qua non for you to be taken seriously.

  40. @Martin we may not have as many shootings but we also don’t have that rather important thing called freedom.

    Noticed many people in the US getting arrested for mean Facebook posts?

    The 2nd amendment is the thing which guarantees the rest of the bill of rights. If 2A was repealed the calls to repeal 1A would begin the very next day.

    @Bongo If the cut-off point is moved it will only encourage the control freaks to demand more concessions. They will salami slice 2A to death. Don’t give an inch, ever.

  41. Bloke in spain – yes, with a permit.
    I notice spain has a lot less school shootings than the US too.

    Heck, here in Britain we have ability to buy legal weapons capable of killing people and can get hold of enough ammo to kill lots of people.
    My local gun club has around 40 members on a regular basis, call it maybe a hundred or so overall. And is one of the smaller clubs in the area.

  42. Magnusw – no, haven’t noticed people getting arrested for mean facebook posts. Here or in the US. Big problem in your area?

    If your government scares you have you tried replacing the members of the government with people who don’t scare you?

  43. ” Semi-automatic guns have no place in private hands”

    I guess she’s never been to Switzerland then? Not many murders there from any cause, but then they have a different demographic makeup from the septics.


    It seems that the fondue-lovers have been importing people to commit the murders that the lazy, good for nothing Swiss just won’t do though.

  44. ” Semi-automatic guns have no place in private hands”

    Yeah, if all those M1911s were Colt .45 revolvers how much safer it would be. And if a handgun is not your style, there’s always Winchester. Rifle or shotgun.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *