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PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 11:33 am 
I just had a thought regarding the whole 2nd amendment issue that might put the whole matter into a new perspective. I doubt I'm the first to wonder this, but here's my question:

Would the issue of using private firearms for personal defense even have occurred to the Founding Fathers at all?

I'm no expert on firearms (far from it), but a black powder, muzzling loading smoothbore pistol does not seem to be a very suitable weapon for the purpose of personal protection against robbery or burglary. It is a single-shot weapon, with a maximum effective range less than 10 meters (at the classic ten pacs, most duels ended in a draw, neither party hitting the other), and which cannot safely be kept loaded for an extended period of time. Reloading took at least eight seconds, even for an expert, in which time any opponent within range could have closed the distance and begun attacking hand-to-hand. They were also expensive, more than a long musket was because of the difficulties of making a weapon that size which wouldn't rupture when fired.

While nearly everyone would have had a long musket (more or less equal to the military muskets of the day - indeed, many were military issue, purchased from the Army for serving compulsory militia duty), at least on the frontier, pistols would have been a rarity. The ones most likely to carry them at all would be military officers (to defend themselves against their own troops - the original purpose of the pistola, IIRC) or highwaymen (who usually carried a brace of them preloaded). Eventhen, they would only have had them loaded if they were expecting to need them.

They were, in other words, weapons which required a certain amount of premeditation to use. Carrying one for defense would be an exercise in futility: if you were attacked, you wouldn't have time to use it, and even if you did, chances are you'd miss at anything but point blank range.

Actually, the same is true to day, even with modern guns. I once read that most gunfights involve between thrity and fifty rounds for every one that hits anyone. As for protecting against being mugged, well, my friend Stefan was recently mugged, and the first indication he had of it was when he was hit from behind; the only thing he had time to do was to smash his cell phone on the ground, where he ended up himself a fraction of a second later. Now, Stefan is a fairly good martial artist, and usually very alert, yet he had no opportunity to defend himself against three teens whom he would have mopped the floor up with had he been prepared. If he'd had a gun, he wouldn't have had a chance to draw it - he might as well have just given the weapon to his attackers.

The entire issue of guns for self defense is false fire: in the real world, the winner of a fight is usually the one who attacks first. Despite the old joke about bringing a knife to a gunfight, if an attacker can close with a knife - or even his fists - before you can respond, then you might as well no be carrying a gun at all. The only way it could make a difference is if you were carrying it openly enough to intimidate a possible attacker out of attacking in the first place.

OK, perhaps I'm wrong in this. I'd love to hear alternate arguments on this point. I personally am neutral on the matter, as I think that the issue exists primarily to allow politicians to gauge how the citizery is reacting to them, but IME most of the arguments put forth for (and against) them aren't very well thought out. Indeed, my whole argument comes down to this: that the issue is a pretty much pointless to argue over, since the impact of firearms on society is, taken as a whole, negligible. Mst of the crimes which are committed with firearms would have been committed without them; most of the accidents which occur with firearms are no more or less likely than other equally lethal accidents. Even the military argument is pretty much moot, as there is now a vast gap between military hardware and private weapons - no insurrection against the established authority (no matter how deserved it might be by the current administration and all of it's predecessors of the past fifty years) is going to succeed using civilian weapons, if at all. Let's find something more productive to argue about, mmmmkay?

Do You Believe That?™


Last edited by Schol-R-LEA on Fri Oct 27, 2006 10:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 4:45 pm 
Just to be brief, I do think that was their intention. They also didn't believe in maintaining a standing army. The revolutionists used their own weapons to fight the British. The concept of gun ownership was very important to the founding fathers and the right to do so is an important one.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 10:28 am 
Oh, I don't disagree on that; clearly this was the case. I just am wondering if they thought their use for protection against petty criminals was an important aspect of gun rights. It's an argument which both gun rights advocates and gun cotrol advocates keep arguing, but to me it seems secondary to their importance in protecting oneself from a tyrranical government (even today, when the difference between civilian weapons and military ones is by orders of magnitude). While the 'defend your home from intruders' argument is a bit more immediate to most people, I think that it distracts from the more fundamental reasons for gun ownership; the gun bunnies are shooting themselves in the foot (only metaphorically, I hope) by bringing in self-defense into an argument about the limits of political power.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 9:01 pm 
So you're saying that you believe your founding fathers would prefer a system of national defence consisting soley (or almost soley, depending on practicalities) of militia, so that the entire country would in the case of an invasion be able to take up arms, but find it rather more expensive to go invading any other country for the lack of a sizeable permanent standing army?
(the above is a question, not an opinion and is certainly not meant to imply anything whatsoever)
Sounds good, if you could just find a way to run your economy without the whole military-industrial complex. :/
(okay so *that*'s an opinion ^_^)


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 12:41 pm 
MineFelinePossesseth wrote:
So you're saying that you believe your founding fathers would prefer a system of national defence consisting soley (or almost soley, depending on practicalities) of militia, so that the entire country would in the case of an invasion be able to take up arms, but find it rather more expensive to go invading any other country for the lack of a sizeable permanent standing army?


Hell, that was pretty much how it worked until 1917.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 07, 2006 5:00 pm 
BeinSane wrote:
Hell, that was pretty much how it worked until 1917.

I didn't know that. Makes me wonder when the FBI and CIA were set up too, since they're such large organisations these days.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 12, 2006 3:37 am 
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Look up the 1792 Militia Act and the 1903 Dick Act which repealed the Militia Act.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2006 4:55 pm 
MineFelinePossesseth wrote:
BeinSane wrote:
Hell, that was pretty much how it worked until 1917.

I didn't know that. Makes me wonder when the FBI and CIA were set up too, since they're such large organisations these days.


I don't know how accurate the article is, but according to Wikipedia the original Bureau of Investigation (BOI) was established in 1908, primarily to coordinate activities between differing jurisdictions regarding organized crime. The name was changed in 1935, which is also when it really became a separate organization in it's own right. It only took a major role in counter-espionage after 1940.

The CIA was (officially ;) ) formed in 1947 following the National Security Act (again, from the relevant Wikipedia article). Despite what most people think, the CIA itself is only a clearinghouse for gathering intelligence from and coordinating activities between a myriad of smaller, specialized agencies (most of which have no official standing in the US government, and in some cases, operate as profit-making enterprises, such as the 1960s air carrier 'Air America' and it's later offshoots); this is done primarily for operational security reasons, though many argue it also allows the agency plausible deniability regarding abuses of power by it's subordinate agencies. Most of the actions by 'The CIA' are actually taken by these subordinate organizations, though usually under CIA auspices, and sometimes different agencies come into conflict as a result of this de-centralized command structure and 'need to know' restrictions. Whether these operations can be said to be CIA activity or not is a question of semantics, I suppose, but it becomes relevant when trying to understand how the intelligence budget works and where responsibility for different activities lies.


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PostPosted: Tue May 08, 2007 12:00 am 
Heya folks, longtime no see. I think that pistols for self defence were actually quite common in that time period. This link has a few examples.

http://blindkat.hegewisch.net/pirates/pocketguns.html

Despite what it says about pirates these things were apparently quite fashionable. Kind of like one of those expensive bags, but it shoots people.


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