Op-Ed: History has outrun the Second Amendment

By Patricia Griffin

Today’s opponents to gun control feel their Second Amendment rights have been, and continue to be, eroded. The document had to do with the right for militia to gather and the right for citizens to freely bear arms to thwart any potentially autocratic government.

Is citing the Bill of Rights from 223 years ago a rational and viable argument to resist gun restrictions in modern times?

Firearms then and now:

  • The basic firearms available to colonial America, as listed in the must-haves for militia duty, were “a musket, bayonet and belt, two spare flints, a cartridge box with 24 bullets, and a knapsack.” Weapons for defense and putting food on the table were one and the same.
  • Modern firearms for recreational hunting versus those used in warfare are drastically different. The killing capability is immense. An “uninfringed” access to a pile of primed muskets in 1795 would be no match against one gunman with an AR-15. It would be over in seconds.
    Militia then and now:
  • The Militia Act of 1795 was amended several times, the last in 1903 establishing the U.S. National Guard as the chief body of organized military reserves.
  • The last threat to our border occurred in 1917 (the “Border Conflict”), waged by the US Army (not militia) along the boundary with Mexico.
  • Independent groups are scattered across our nation today with their own ideology, conspiracy theories, and assault weapons. Some have had conflicts with ATF, the FBI, and local authority.
  • In light of the historical perspective above and today’s unsolved domestic terrorism, citing the Second Amendment to resist gun control is irrational.

Patricia Griffin is a retired teacher. She lives in Williston.

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