At the risk of stepping on a few toes and raising some hackles, it’s past time to recognize the fact that a bunch of rebels who had just won a long and brutal war had deadly serious intent when they wrote those 27 words of the Second Amendment. They would likely shake their heads at some of the absurd things that modern Americans think they meant to protect when a bunch of successful rebels spelled out the right bear arms.
It wasn’t any of the following.
5. Expensive Sporting Shotguns
High-end over-under shotguns like the President used in his photo-op at Camp David are beautiful works of art. Most are custom-fit to individual shooters, tailored to their owner’s precise dimensions. Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s exquisite 28-gauge Perazzi—rumored to be valued around $40,000—is another example of this sort of arm.
Unfortunately, such firearms designed to turn clay into dust and small birds into dinner are of little to no military use. For this reason, they aren’t protected under the intent of the Second Amendment.
4. Race Guns
Highly-specialized firearms built for some specific types of competition shooting are precision instruments sporting incredibly tight tolerances. Some rifles and pistols fire unique calibers that most shooters outside of a specific discipline will have never heard of. All is fine as far as it goes, but these arms tend to be finely tuned, fragile, and next to impossible to find replacement parts for in many instances.
Professional soldiers argue that warfare is often won more by logistics than tactics. They’re right. As they are simply too delicate for military consideration, they aren’t protected under the intent of the Second Amendment.
3. Hunting Guns without military value
I wish i had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a Second Amendment advocate proclaim that, “the Second Amendment isn’t about duck hunting.” They’re absolutely correct. It isn’t about any kind of hunting, for that matter. That allowed, many, if not most, of the firearms used for various types of hunting have military value. Rugged 12- and 20-gauge shotguns used for most types of hunting are inherently useful for short-range combat, though that military utility quickly disappears when you start factoring in the rarer and smaller gauges where when you can find ammunition with shot sized for small game. Most modern firearms used by hunters will function well enough as sniper rifles.
Unfortunately, truly oddball big game calibers where ammunition is difficult to impossible to source (like the Smith & Wesson .500 Magnum above) are not what the Founders had in mind as militia weapons.
This in particular is going to cause some heartburn, since rimfires have indeed been adapted to limited military use, including short-range sniping, training, and as seen in the example above, less-lethal crowd control.
That allowed, rimfire ammunition is inherently unreliable, and advances in suppressors and new cartridge development for existing military platforms (the .300 AAC Blackout popular with the AR-15, for example) means that more powerful and reliable alternatives already exist. When it comes to training, the .22 LR gets you only through basic marksmanship; militia need to practice shooting with the centerfire military calibers with which they’ll fight. Crowd control? The Israeli military learned that their “less lethal” use of suppressed Ruger 10/22s start putting targets in the morgue instead of just out of action, and so they removed them from service.
1. Muskets and other obsolete technologies
It might depress the historians among us, but the very muskets used to win the American Revolution, like the ubiquitous “Brown Bess” above used by both sides, would not be among the firearms the Founders would protect today. The Founders meant Americans to be armed for modern day conflicts, whenever “modern day” happened to be. This museum piece, while beautiful, does not meet the needs of the modern day minuteman, and therefore isn’t protected under the intent of the Second Amendment.
It’s a very simple concept: the Founding Fathers didn’t write the Second Amendment to protect antiques, competition guns, or sporting arms. The right to keep and bear arms was the right to keep and bear arms that the militia would use in war.
That would include assault rifles, machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
Isn’t a contextual grasp of history fascinating?