They were tricky little devils, muskets. You held them at waist level and aimed like a gardener with a hose. They had no sight, no technique for optically aligning barrel with target. Still, they could kill someone. If that someone wasn’t too far away. Like two meters would be handy. With three, you would start to stretch it. Four was really pushing things. And if you missed, what the hell, you ducked behind a tree. Or if there wasn’t a tree you crouched. Good to get out of the line of fire while you grabbed a ball…not one of your own…and jammed it down the barrel along with gun power, and wadding to make a good seal. Then you’d be prepared to fire. Took a little time, of course. But that’s how it always is with early automation. Still, definitely better than having to shove a knife into someone, hurl a spear or make balletic moves with a sword.
Just to put things in perspective…. When Americans talk about the ‘right to bear arms’ they are citing a phrase written when muskets were positively the state-of-the-art. Boy howdy, you had a right. To bear those arms. Because that’s what the second amendment of the Bill of Rights said. ‘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.’ Could not be clearer. Absolute certainty.
Because don’t you have your ‘well regulated militia’ out there doing its patriotic thing? Of course you do. See, you’ve got this guy driving along a Las Vegas motorway, and in his car are enough weapons to stage a coup in, say, Andorra. And while this guy is motoring along, hell, he is at peace. After all, he’s a militia. What else? I mean he’s got a car. He’s got a credit card. He’s even got a couple of small planes. Might as well have some guns.
Now, let’s consider the finer point. We know he’s a militia. Is he well regulated? That’s quite a poser, isn’t it? We do know that our Founding Fathers (don’t know about the Founding Mothers) had certain things in mind when they talked about ‘well-regulated’. And we’ll rule out Kellogg’s All-Bran. They meant order, didn’t they? Which didn’t mean you couldn’t have your guns, did it?
No, of course they didn’t mean that. Now, it’s true, muskets are different from technologically refined weapons that with (legal) modifications can fire about 100 times a minute. Or more. And when we say ‘fire’ we’re talking a projectile that hurtles faster than a rocket, but tumbles and/or deforms on impact. But our Founders had vision. They didn’t care if it was a musket or a musk ox. It was an arm. And you had the right to bear it.
So there you are driving down your Las Vegas freeway exercising your right to bear arms. After all, you haven’t done anything wrong, have you? And dammit you’re a militia. What else could you possibly be? Well, various things. But it doesn’t matter. Because if any cop pulls you over for speeding, then gets suspicious about all those suitcases…well, what can he do? You’re protected. Because you’re protecting the nation. That’s why you’ve got the right to bear those arms.
So don’t worry. In fact, think of how ‘arms’ have steadily inflated over the years, in terms of definition. Think big. Nuclear arms? Well that might be a bit too big. Maybe not. What about a small nuclear device? Might have the right to bear that too, right? Never know. Some day you got you another black guy in the White House named Hussein, and he’s trying to impose sharia law and make everyone gay. What else can you do? But exercise your rights. Right?