Conservative to the Core

Gun sense

By Tom Seymour | Jan 01, 2016

I used to go bear hunting with an assault rifle. It was .69 caliber and was easily as long as I was tall. It took a huge charge of black powder and the cock, or hammer, held a thick, wide flint. It threw a blinding shower of sparks.

The gun was, of course, a Brown Bess, the smoothbore flintlock long arm used by British and some Americans during the Revolutionary War. This gun and other similar firearms were used by the military to assault enemy forces. Flintlocks were the assault weapon of choice, until the first half of the 19th century, when caplocks, firearms that used percussion caps to ignite the main powder charge, replaced the old flintlocks. Our civil war was fought with caplocks.

It seems ironic that “assault rifles” of yesterday are not even considered firearms today. Muzzle-loading guns such as those used to fight the Revolution, the War of 1812 and the Civil War, require no background check to purchase. All such guns are classified as antiques, or replicas of antiques. But let me say this. Any creature struck solidly with a 69-caliber round lead ball shot from a Brown Bess would have little chance of survival. By the same token, that same creature, if shot with a .223 round, the same load used in the “assault rifles” that liberals want to ban, would have a far better chance of survival.

It’s just that the old muzzleloaders made such a big hole. Also, the shocking power from such weapons was immense. A bear killed with an old muzzle-loading gun would be every bit as dead as a bear killed with modern ammo fired from a modern firearm.

Gun hysteria

My point here is that much of the gun hysteria of today has little or no basis in fact. The senators who dream up anti-gun legislation don’t even know the proper nomenclature. For instance, an automatic weapon is one in which the gun continues to fire while the trigger is held down. A semiautomatic weapon, the type used by hunters, requires the trigger to be pulled for each shot. But people like Barbara Boxer and others of her ilk lump automatic and semiautomatic all together.

And maybe the anti-gunner’s ignorance of firearm nomenclature is a good thing. Perhaps if they knew one gun from the other they would call for a ban on the Brown Bess. That would put a lot of historical re-enactors out of business.

President Obama has declared he will use executive action to enact new, strict anti-gun laws, thus circumventing congressional input. This and the cry from Democrats in general to clamp down on firearm ownership has had an opposite effect. That is, people are flocking to gun shops to buy their weapon of choice before they are all banned. Black Friday saw record gun sales in the United States.

I own a .357 magnum revolver bought specifically in response to Sen. Ted Kennedy’s presidential run. Kennedy was a huge anti-gunner. Lots of other people just like me bought guns they either didn’t really need or couldn’t afford, simply because of fear of what might happen if Kennedy became president.

Every once in a while I’ll spot a bumper sticker on some older car that says, “Ted Kennedy’s Oldsmobile has killed more people than my registered handgun.” That, for younger readers, refers to Sen. Kennedy driving off the road on the island of Chappaquiddick, Mass., into a tidal channel and drowning his companion, Mary Jo Kopechne. Sen. Kennedy is long gone now, but his legacy lives on in worn and tattered bumper stickers.

Constitutional carry

While many Democrats opposed it, Maine has adopted a constitutional carry law. This means that those without criminal or other records that would bar them from owning a handgun may carry a handgun concealed on their person or in their vehicle. The “constitutional” part of constitutional carry refers to our constitutional right to bear arms.

Much was said regarding the supposed effects of this law. Reckless people were going to whip out their gun in the heat of the moment. Shootings of all kinds would increase. Maine was going to hell in a handbasket. None of this has happened.

In fact, Mainers are safer now than ever before because the bad guys don’t know who has a concealed weapon on them and who does not.

Even while Maine retains and supports our freedom to own firearms, the threat from the federal government remains. President Obama’s promise rings in our ears and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s threats to confiscate guns conjure images of the failed Australian gun ban.

Gun owners must continue to fight for their second amendment rights, because there will always be an Obama or Clinton lurking in the shadows.

Tom Seymour is a freelance magazine and newspaper writer, book author, naturalist and forager. He lives in Waldo.

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