Right to bear arms

Why is the right to bear arms interpreted as the right to carry firearms? Why not a sword, or a flintlock if you have to have a gun. Obviously we have restrictions on what we mean by arms. For example, as a private citizen you cannot own an armed jet fighter or tank. And nukes are probably so not happening.

On the other hand, if you walked down the street carrying a roman gladius, I suspect the police would want to chat to you.

So, we seem to have narrowed the scope of arms to be C20/21 firearms.

BTW, is ammunition covered under right to bear arms?

Such a right is not absolute: different American states and jurisdictions placed restrictions on various classes at whim, allowing neither the carrying of arms nor self-defence as a right. Therefore such rights may be again in the future diminished for any or all depending on legislators’ prudence.
And thus they may at the same time classify which weapons are or are not permitted. However it is reasonable to expect they would only allow current, and small, weapons. Hauling a ballista about would be unreasonable.

By the same token, we might ask why “freedom of the press,” is extended to forbidding Congress from passing a law that limits the political commentary permissible on Twitter, instead of merely constraining Congress’ ability to stop political commentary produced on hand-cranked printing presses.

The answer is, generally, that in these instances courts have decided that newly developed instances of then-existing concepts such as press, and arms, are covered by the words ‘press,’ and ‘arms.’

But why not knives and swords? Are they not arms?

Because they have yet to be litigated. The Wisconsin State Supreme court just ruled that switchblade bans were unconstitutional based on the 2nd amendment. So yes knives in some cases. There is a nun chuck case in NY going on as well.

There isn’t a National Sword Association that politicians are afraid of. I wish it could be agreed on what arms are reasonable and which aren’t. I don’t have a problem with someone thinking he needs to keep a revolver in his nightstand in case someone breaks in. Or with the guy who has a few shotguns for deer hunting. But I really don’t see the legitimate use for rapid-fire weaponry. Want something that can kill a single deer? Knock yourself out. Want something that can fell 1000 deer in under a minute? Whatever for?

Who decides what is legitimate? You?

Do you make that argument for all laws, or just gun laws?

Who decides which chemicals are legitimate? I mean table salt and plutonium are both just chemicals. Who decides that it isn’t legitimate for me to have the latter?

Who decides which animals are legitimate for me to own? Both dogs and grizzly bears are just animals? Why is the government infringing on my freedom to own a cuddly grizzly bear?

I think it’s legitimate that my car have flame throwers around it just in case I encounter another vehicle that doesn’t use a turn signal. Who decides that’s not legitimate?

Our elected representatives. Let one guy run on the undisputed right to own bazookas, another run on sensible restrictions.

Isn’t the real purpose of the right to maintain the security of a free State? e.g. defend against potential tyranny of a government out of control.

Couldn’t rapid-fire weaponry be useful in such a case?

Maybe in the days when the government and the citizens were on a more equal playing field. But in the event of a heavily armed insurrection, the government can pretty easily eliminate them with bombs, artillery, flamethrowers, etc. There is no real possibility of an armed revolution. Real change happens without resort to weaponry, just ask Gandhi or Walesa.

Who decides what is sensible? You?

Feel free to capitulate and agree. A revolver is as rapid fire as a semi auto handgun as a semi auto rifle. There is no firearm that can fell 1000 deer in under a minute.

I’m obviously no gun expert, but I bet one of these could.

Say hello to my little friend… The General Electric Minigun M-134. It can fire up to 6000 rounds per minute, so if you can just get the 1000 deer to line up properly…


As much as I appreciate the firepower displayed, I should have included the phrase “commonly available to ordinary people”. But to my defense, I suspect most of the deer would run away upon hearing the first few rounds and you’d be unlikely to hit the remaining 900+ :stuck_out_tongue:

Let’s say the deer were assembled in a herd. I bet you could nail a few with one bullet so you wouldn’t quite need a machine gun that sounded like a fart.

That situation is where you would want to go with an area of effect weapon so you get them all at once with no opportunity to flee or retaliate. Since we are discussing things that are at least nominally gun-like, I suggest the Shmel. It is man-portable and handheld, at least, where the mini-gun is neither (outside of movies).

Ninjas need a living…


Well my personal opinion is that the line should be drawn at tanks. And by that I mean that tanks should be legal and freely available, but nothing that is more effective than a tank. So no gunships, fighters, bombers or battleships for private citizens.

I guess if you already own a helicopter and decide to mount your mini gun on it I can’t really prevent that…
On the other hand the only really effective way to defend yourself against someone with a tank is to have an attack helicopter. And if there are a lot of people around with tanks… I kind of want to have a gunship.

But then of course you’re going to have some jerk who wants a fighter jet to take down my gunship with and we get the whole “slippery slope” problem. So in the end, I am willing to give up my right to have an attack helicopter.