Knowledge of Automatic Guns When The 2nd Amendment Was Ratified Is A False Hypothesis
While watching the CNN townhall meeting last night, I became interested in how Dana Loesch, spokesperson for the NRA, said that there was knowledge of automatic guns when the Second Amendment was written, so the Second Amendment included ownership of automatic guns.
I’m one who often says that when the Second Amendment was ratified, that the guns of that time consisted of muskets. Loesch’s rebuttal of that caused me to research today. Loesch named the Belton and Puckle guns as automatic weapons that existed when the Second Amendment was ratified.
I first began my research of the Belton gun. Wikipedia has a short article on the Belton gun. That article says that the only evidence of that gun’s existence is the correspondence between Belton and Congress. It then gives the following history. (The Wiki article is supported with embedded links to reference material that I’ve removed from the below quote.)
“Congress commissioned Belton to build or modify 100 muskets for the military on May 3, 1777, but the order was cancelled on May 15, when Congress received Belton’s bid and considered it an “extraordinary allowance”. After the war, Belton attempted to sell the design to the British Army, without success.”
In his letter to Congress, Belton described his design as:
“I would just informe this Honourable Assembly, that I have discover’d an improvement, in the use of Small Armes, wherein a common small arm, may be maid to discharge eight balls one after another, in eight, five or three seconds of time, & each one to do execution five & twenty, or thirty yards, and after so discharg’d, to be loaded and fire’d with cartridge as usual, which I am ready to prove by experimental proof and can with equal ease fix them so as to discharge sixteen, or twenty, in sixteen, ten, or five seconds of time, which I have kept as yet a secret, thinking that in two, or three Months we might have an army thus equipt, which our enemy should know nothing of, till they should be maid to know it in the field, to their immortal sorrow.”
My conclusion is that Loesch’s representation about the Belton gun was dishonest. There is no evidence that Belton’s automatic musket ever existed. Although Congress had knowledge that Belton claimed to have designed a gun that could fire 8 “balls” in 8, 5, or 3 seconds, Congress did not commission its production.
Next, I looked up Puckle guns. According to Wikipedia;
“The Puckle gun (also known as the Defence gun) was a primitive crew-served, manually-operated flintlock revolver patented in 1718 by James Puckle (1667–1724) a British inventor, lawyer and writer. It was one of the earliest weapons to be referred to as a “machine gun”, being called such in a 1722 shipping manifest.”
The Puckle gun had to be mounted on a tripod. The cylinder held 6 to 11 musket balls. After each shot, the crank had to be unscrewed to release the cylinder and the cylinder would then be advanced by hand to the next chamber.
Puckle patented his gun in the United Kingdom. It was intended for navel use on ships where it could be setup on its tripod.
“The Puckle gun drew few investors and never achieved mass production or sales to the British armed forces. As with other designs of the time it was hampered by “clumsy and undependable flintlock ignition” and other mechanical problems.”
I found a video demonstrating the Puckle gun.
There is information about both guns beyond Wikipedia, but that is where I started my research.
My conclusion about Loesch’s representation about the Puckle gun is that it was misleading.
Her take on this is that those ratifying the Second Amendment HAD KNOWLEDGE of automatic guns, so she forms a false hypothesis that since they had knowledge, the second amendment was intended to allow citizens to own automatic weapons. That hypothesis is false because the NRA interprets the Second Amendment to apply to citizens when Belton and Puckle wanted to manufacture their guns for the exclusive use for the military — and Belton’s gun never existed.
I’m pretty sure that there are Constitutional scholars who can compare Loesch’s false hypothesis to other constitutional amendments.
Posted on 02/22/2018, in Gun Control, politics and tagged automatic weapons, Belton gun, Dana Loesch, false hypothesis, NRA, Puckle gun, Second amendment, student shootings. Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.