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18th Century Gun Control

This is a discussion on 18th Century Gun Control within the Gun Rights forums, part of the Gun Forum category; I do not have the link to the original document, but when I was looking for original documents on Gun Control I came across a ...


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Old December 19th, 2011, 12:03 PM   #1
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18th Century Gun Control

I do not have the link to the original document, but when I was looking for original documents on Gun Control I came across a Boston Ordinance of the 1760's. It spelled out that cannon and quantities of powder for same were to be stored in the owners' private warehouses (meaning close to the wharfs) and NOT in private homes. This is not unusual seeing as how Boston was a major port and fitting ships with cannon was taken for granted. Of course, one has to wonder how many people tried to store cannon in their basements and they must have been smaller ship's guns. Grin.

If we REALLY want to see the intent of what they thought was appropriate in the 18th century for private ownership, we should look at the Militia Act of 1792.

http://www.constitution.org/mil/mil_act_1792.htm

Please note that everyone who did not have a rifle was expected to have a musket or firelock AND that the bores of them were to accept a ball sized 18 to the pound or approimately .637" caliber. (This was the actual ball size that was loaded into MILITARY paper cartridges for .69 caliber muskets like the "Charleville" or later Springfield Muskets.) So what does that tell us?

The Anti Gun Nuts HATE it when you explain what was actually written and meant.

The rifle of the time was MUCH more expensive than a musket. It was the tool of the Longhunters and the Frontier, though some folks in the settled regions did own and use them. In the 1750's- 1780's, market hunting of deerskins was a HUGE commercial venture and brought untold wealth into this country on a scale very few people understand. Deerskins were used in place of money even in the settled areas. While the rifle was used to fight NA (Native Americans) and in SPECIALIST units during the Revolutionary war, it was NOT seen as the STANDARD firearm of the Military. It was seen as a HUNTING firearm that could be used for special purposes in war - much the same as scoped bolt action hunting rifles are used in the military today. THAT IS IMPORTANT. IOW, they were making an exception for those who owned rifles NOT to own standard military arms and usually because of the expense of the rifles.

The rifle of the day was more accurate, but it also was:

1. MUCH slower to load and thus had FAR LESS FIREPOWER than a musket.

2. The Caliber was SMALLER than muskets. Thus, the rifle was LESS DEADLY when a shot hit a less vital portion of the enemy's body.

3, Was not as sturdy as the musket. The lock, especially, was more prone to breakage.

4. Did not come with a provision for a bayonet unless it was specially modified for one. The muskets that everyone else were required to have - HAD TO BE fitted for bayonets and the citizens had to have them when they had muskets.

5. When BOTH the military or militia was required to assault a position, the arm of choice was always the musket with bayonet.

So what do just these 5 things tell us? It is really quite simple. The Militia Act REQUIRED every citizen (who did not own a rifle) to own the Most Modern and Up to Date military small arm, Highest Rate of Fire, largest caliber, bayonet fitted, ASSAULT WEAPON.

If we take those criteria into modern weapons; that means every member of the militia would be required to own either an M16A2 or M4 Carbine IN select fire/full auto!!! It could also mean something like the M249 SAW as it is considered an individual weapon.

Now, I know further acts in the early 1900's broke the Militia down into "Organized" that became the National Guard and "Unorganized" which meant ALL THE REST OF US that were not at least 45 and in some cases 60 or older, ESPECIALLY those who had retired from the military. In modern times, the Unorganized Militia is largely ignored EXCEPT it is still on the books when it is needed. Though this is not the only basis for it, this is part of the basis when a LE Officer can "Deputize you on the spot" if it is really required.

Yes, folks, the Founding Fathers really did mean that all Male citizens who were not felons and/or insane, were REQUIRED to have modern assault weapons if they did not own a HUNTING rifle.

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Old December 19th, 2011, 12:45 PM   #2
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The Gun Nuts HATE it when you explain the actual context of what was written and when.

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Yes, folks, the Founding Fathers really did mean that all citizens who were not felons and/or insane, were REQUIRED to have modern assault weapons if they did not own a HUNTING rifle.
No, no. Read the actual works of the founding fathers instead of drawing a parallel to a gun >200 years old to a gun of today. They made laws based on an entire society, not a gun's capabilities. Which is why it's called the Militia Act and not the Random Citizens With Guns Act. It applied to State Militias, which it references many times and which were organized (and the act itself had the details of their extremely precise regimental organization).
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And be it further enacted, That within one year after the passing of the Act, the militia of the respective states shall be arranged into divisions, brigades, regiments, battalions, and companies, as the legislature of each state shall direct; and each division, brigade, and regiment, shall be numbered at the formation thereof; and a record made of such numbers of the Adjutant-General's office in the state; and when in the field, or in serviced in the state, such division, brigade, and regiment shall, respectively, take rank according to their numbers, reckoning the first and lowest number highest in rank. That if the same be convenient, each brigade shall consist of four regiments; each regiment or two battalions; each battalion of five companies; each company of sixty-four privates. That the said militia shall be officered by the respective states, as follows: To each division on Major-General, with two Aids-de-camp, with the rank of major; to each brigade, one brigadier-major, with the rank of a major; to each company, one captain, one lieutenant, one ensign, four serjeants, four corporals, one drummer, and one fifer and bugler. That there shall be a regimental staff, to consist of one adjutant, and one quartermaster, to rank as lieutenants; one paymaster; one surgeon, and one surgeon's mate; one serjeant-major; one drum- major, and one fife-major.
^This is not random citizens.

At the same period women couldn't vote, blacks were slaves, there were zero labor laws, we didn't have much of a national defense at all. Why aren't you drawing that forward and trying to make modern analogies for today?

The founding dads made some laws that were general and applied to everything. Such as our Bill of Rights. But they also made specific laws for their times. You don't see a lot of laws about WiFi and internet pornography in the 1700s. On one hand you're saying you should take it at 100% face value. But then you're saying to translate it into modern speak. Make up your mind. Either they meant everything in the Act to remain like that in perpetuity, with all able-bodied men 18-45 armed with flintlocks in the state militia running around today as an Aids-de-camp...or it was solving a problem THAT EXISTED AT THAT TIME.

Washington called up the militia to put down the Whiskey Rebellion. Now he would call out the National Guard, whose Act directly superceded this one and led to end of this Act. And there's many reasons for that change. Not least of which is training and equipment.

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Old December 19th, 2011, 12:45 PM   #3
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" The muskets that everyone else were required to have - HAD TO BE fitted for bayonets and the citizens had to have them when they had muskets.

When BOTH the military or militia was required to assault a position, the arm of choice was always the musket with bayonet."

Maybe later on but on April 19 1775 that was not the case. Very few in the militia had bayonets. As the colonists approached the North Bridge in Concord, Issac Davis's group was some of the better equipped (Issac was a black/gunsmith) with bayonets and cartridge boxes, "I have not a man amongst us that is afraid to go", as in to lead the way down to the bridge. Issac and Abner Hosmer were killed in the first ragged volley making Issac the first colonial "officer" to be killed. Major Buttrick then gave the order to "FIRE, for God's sake fire as fast as you can!" The first time our side was ordered to fire upon the Regulars. The first colonist volley wiped out 40% of the Regular officers, their street fighting lines broke down into a full retreat due to lack of leadership and discipline.

Many have been lead to believe the shooting started over taxes and other regulations...Not so. The orders of the Regulars that morning was to capture Samual Adams and John Hancock and capture stores of munitions believed to be in Concord and Major Buttrick's home. Even then, we'd argue and complain over taxes and judicial/political appointments, trying to disarm us however was a line they could not cross......O.L.

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Old December 19th, 2011, 12:47 PM   #4
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Now the next thing the Anti Gun Nuts will say is, "Well, that means you are saying someone could own a Nuclear, Biological or Chemical Weapon." Once again they show their fanaticism with that kind of question, but also their ignorance.

The British Military Commanders ORDERED the use of Biological Weapons in the Seven Years War, circa 1756-63, against the hostile NA (Native Americans). This took the form of Pox or Plague infested blankets or even attempting to infect captured NA before they released them to go back and infect as many others in the tribe as possible.

During the American Revolutionary War, General Washington TRIED to get the NA to stay out of the conflict and many did. However, there was some orders by Military or even Civilian Officials who tried the same type of Biological Warfare. But this is IMPORTANT, no "ordinary person or soldier" was ALLOWED to possess or use Biological or Chemical Weapons EXCEPT at the express order of authorized Military or Civilian Officials.

So the Anti Gun Nuts making this argument are at the very least, incredibly (if not deliberately) ignorant of history.

OK, what about "crew served" or larger weapons being allowed? Well, AGAIN, we have historic evidence of how that was handled. If a person owned a private ship; he could have cannon, grenades and powder stored aboard the ship. This due to the fact there were Pirates a Plenty in those days. However, he was not allowed to bring them ashore except for repairs. IF he brought the guns ashore for other than a good reason, then he fell under the MILITIA Acts.

The Militia Acts basically stated a private citizen was encouraged to PAY for a field cannon and then get a Commission in the State's Militia, HOWEVER the cannon then became the property of the State or Commonwealth much as the State National Guards have tanks or cannon today. IOW, unless someone had an exceedling good reason to own a cannon for use on land, it was illegal.

OK, what about other weapons like mortars or hand grenades. In BOTH cases, these were also ONLY to be owned or acquired for Militia Use and thus were not personal property - except aboard ships. There actually were small Coehorn Mortars of the time that were used for Infantry Support much as 60mm Mortars are still used today as well as larger ones used for siege warfare.

I have tried to find other good examples of what we would call "Crew Served Weapons" in the 18th century. The modern examples are like the Ma Duece and M60 or M240 Machine Guns. Well, I can't come up with a good example OTHER to state that such weapons would also have been considered "Militia Property" and NOT private property BECAUSE they were not and are not issued to a single man, except aboard ship.

Of course, cannon, mortars, hand grenades and similar weapons COULD be owned by some people WHEN they demonstrated a sufficient need for them and when they were authorized by Civilian or Local Militia Commanders. A great example of that would be trading posts and settlements close to the frontier over into the frontier. I'm sad to say this is how they could Constitutionally justify the Machine Gun Ban, though I'm SURE most of the Anti Gun Nuts don't realize this.

So, yes, there were restrictions on what Arms people could own even in the 18th century, both before and after the Constitution was ratified.

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Old December 19th, 2011, 12:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xsail View Post
"5. When BOTH the military or militia was required to assault a position, the arm of choice was always the musket with bayonet."

Maybe later on but on April 19 1775 that was not the case. Very few in the militia had bayonets. As the colonists approached the North Bridge in Concord, Issac Davis's group was some of the better equipped (Issac was a black/gunsmith) with bayonets and cartridge boxes, "I have not a man amongst us that is afraid to go", as in to lead the way down to the bridge. Issac and Abner Hosmer were killed in the first ragged volley making Issac the first colonial "officer" to be killed. Major Buttrick then gave the order to "FIRE, for God's sake fire as fast as you can!" The first time our side was ordered to fire upon the Regulars. The first colonist volley wiped out 40% of the Regular officers, their street fighting lines broke down into a full retreat due to lack of leadership and discipline.

Many have been lead to believe the shooting started over taxes and other regulations...Not so. The orders of the Regulars that morning was to capture Samual Adams and John Hancock and capture stores of munitions believed to be in Concord and Major Buttrick's home. Even then, we'd argue and complain over taxes and judicial/political appointments, trying to disarm us however was a line they could not cross......O.L.
Actually, if you look at the MASS Militia Acts PRIOR to the Revolution, you will find the people were required to have a sword or hanger or tomahawk (if they didn't have a bayonet). Of course, most of the Militia's, except for the Provincials, had many members who did not have bayonets. ALSO, some people were allowed certain leeway when they were poor and were issued Arms out of the Colonial Stores when needed.

Of course, this changed with the Militia Act of 1792 I linked.

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Old December 19th, 2011, 01:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DukeRustfield View Post
The Gun Nuts HATE it when you explain the actual context of what was written and when.


No, no. Read the actual works of the founding fathers instead of drawing a parallel to a gun >200 years old to a gun of today. They made laws based on an entire society, not a gun's capabilities. Which is why it's called the Militia Act and not the Random Citizens With Guns Act. It applied to State Militias, which it references many times and which were organized (and the act itself had the details of their extremely precise regimental organization).


^This is not random citizens.

At the same period women couldn't vote, blacks were slaves, there were zero labor laws, we didn't have much of a national defense at all. Why aren't you drawing that forward and trying to make modern analogies for today?

The founding dads made some laws that were general and applied to everything. Such as our Bill of Rights. But they also made specific laws for their times. You don't see a lot of laws about WiFi and internet pornography in the 1700s. On one hand you're saying you should take it at 100% face value. But then you're saying to translate it into modern speak. Make up your mind. Either they meant everything in the Act to remain like that in perpetuity, with all able-bodied men 18-45 armed with flintlocks in the state militia running around today as an Aids-de-camp...or it was solving a problem THAT EXISTED AT THAT TIME.

Washington called up the militia to put down the Whiskey Rebellion. Now he would call out the National Guard, whose Act directly superceded this one and led to end of this Act. And there's many reasons for that change. Not least of which is training and equipment.
When the Militia Acts detail every male citizen from the age of 16/17 to 60 and later down to 45 and who are not insane or felons, are you suggesting those people are not "random citizens?" It doesn't MATTER they were CALLED Colonels or Captains or whatever, they were still private citizens for the most part EXCEPT for the Provincials. If you wish to bring the National Guard up, then their Ancestry is the Provincials and NOT the militia.

Oh, brother, here we go with the stuff about women, free blacks, slaves and YES other minorities. I'll bet you did not know that Native Americans and Scottish descendents could or could not be part of the militia in Mass and other colonies at different times in the Colonial Era either.

I'm not into trying to CHANGE history to suit my thoughts or politics. My own ancestor was an Indentured Servant who was NEVER allowed out of that servitude because he fought against the English King in the upriising of the 19. When he married, his wife ALSO became an Indentured servant for life, though his children were not.

Now, as to translating what they meant into modern terms, how ELSE can we understand what they meant? Of course, when we look at the Federalist Papers, it is QUITE CLEAR the right to keep and bear arms was an individual right BEFORE any government can grant it or take it away. The militia acts ONLY deal with what the governments could and did restrict, so you are mixing apples and oranges.

BTW, you would have more credibility in your arguments if you linked sources and provided historic fact as I have done.

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Old December 19th, 2011, 01:26 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Gus Fisher View Post
Yes, folks, the Founding Fathers really did mean that all Male citizens who were not felons and/or insane, were REQUIRED to have modern assault weapons if they did not own a HUNTING rifle.
This is essentially what I preach to others. All American men should own at least one rifle.

Thanks for the informative post.

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Old December 19th, 2011, 01:36 PM   #8
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If one wishes to understand where a CODIFIED concept of private citizens having the RIGHT to own arms that a King should not tresspass, then all one has to do is look at the English Bill of Rights of 1689.

http://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/england.asp

Actually, long before it was codified, it was always considered a right of a free man to own and possess arms from the English tradition we base much of our law on, though of course we made some big changes.

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Old December 19th, 2011, 01:37 PM   #9
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"At the same period women couldn't vote, blacks were slaves, there were zero labor laws, we didn't have much of a national defense at all. Why aren't you drawing that forward and trying to make modern analogies for today?"

Not true Duke...LAND OWNERS could vote, didn't matter their gender. Yes, there were slaves but many free blacks as well. First black elected to office was in 1760 I think it was. The militias elected their leaders and some were black or black mixed. David Lamson was one such leader...O.L.

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Old December 19th, 2011, 01:42 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xsail View Post
"At the same period women couldn't vote, blacks were slaves, there were zero labor laws, we didn't have much of a national defense at all. Why aren't you drawing that forward and trying to make modern analogies for today?"

Not true Duke...LAND OWNERS could vote, didn't matter their gender. Yes, there were slaves but many free blacks as well. First black elected to office was in 1760 I think it was. The militias elected their leaders and some were black or black mixed. David Lamson was one such leader...O.L.
In Virginia, people could also vote if they owned a business and even if they only employed themselves. A widow inherited a business, so she could then vote as well. What that basically meant was that virtually every tradesman who owned a business could vote, even if he only rented the land or property where the business was located.

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Old December 19th, 2011, 01:48 PM   #11
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Now of course we LONG AGO established slavery to be an evil never to be tolerated in this country and granted women full rights of franchise. That does NOT mean JUST the vote, BTW.

So when we take the 18th century meaning that all citizens who are of legal age, not felons or insane, then that means everyone has the right to keep and bear arms who passes these tests.

Actually, I would argue that right goes even unto some minors to use deadly force to protect their lives or the lives of others, though not very young children of course.

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Old December 19th, 2011, 02:10 PM   #12
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When the Militia Acts detail every male citizen from the age of 16/17 to 60 and later down to 45 and who are not insane or felons, are you suggesting those people are not "random citizens?" It doesn't MATTER they were CALLED Colonels or Captains or whatever, they were still private citizens for the most part EXCEPT for the Provincials. If you wish to bring the National Guard up, then their Ancestry is the Provincials and NOT the militia.
The fact it's not random citizens is because they were required to train and form ranks. Not be Billy Hillbilly sitting with his AR and calling himself a militiaman.

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The claim that the National Guard is older than the nation itself, with over three and a half centuries of service, is based on the claim that the modern-day 101st Field Artillery Regiment, 182nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Engineer Battalion and 181st Infantry Regiment of the Massachusetts Army National Guard are directly descended from Massachusetts Bay Colony regiments formed over 375 years ago. On 13 December 1648, the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony had ordered that the Colony's scattered militia companies be organized into North, South and East Regiments—with a goal of increasing the militias' accountability to the colonial government, efficacy, and responsiveness in conflicts with indigenous Pequot Indians
Quote:
Now, as to translating what they meant into modern terms, how ELSE can we understand what they meant?
Because they didn't time travel when they wrote them. But you are when you put today's standards on 200 year old laws. It's easy to look backwards. But you're saying the laws are "living" in that their content should morph with the times. Okay. But do the conditions also morph with the times? Or is it just the brand of firearm? We don't have the state militia system anymore.

Quote:
BTW, you would have more credibility in your arguments if you linked sources and provided historic fact as I have done.
I guess you missed those giant quotes. They're the things in quotes, btw. And your "facts" are just you saying that a gun back then should be translocated to an "equivalent" gun today, completely ignoring the reasons why they needed those guns.

We have a National Guard now, which 100% supercedes what is written in this act. It is now legally irrelevant. The Militia Act is gone. That is fact. You could cite it in any court in the land and it would be discarded.

Just like lots of other laws have outserved their usefullness because we no longer live in the 18th century.

EDIT: I'm obviously a gun owner. I just get irked with people trying to pick-and-choose from history with no context. You can't look at one portion of one act in absolute isolation and draw any conclusions that apply to all situations 200 years later. I'm sure there's thousands of laws about shoeing horses and throwing waste water and where you can plant trees and whatever else that really mattered in 1792, but it means nothing today. Not even if you translated horseshoe to car tire.

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Old December 19th, 2011, 02:17 PM   #13
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Is there an 18th century version of "Saturday Night Specials?" OF COURSE THERE WERE and the Anti Gun Nuts don't want you to know about that either.

Flintlocks could and were made small enough that a WOMAN could carry one in her muff or clothing. This began with very small wood stocked pistols during the Georgian Era, but became much more common with the inexpensive flintlock boxlock pistols with turn off barrels. Those pistols that were not "best quality" were within the affordability of many people who felt the need to own one. Then as now, even a CHEAP pistol might or did save peoples' lives.

We have a well rusted/corroded CHEAP turn of the century "Saturday Night Special" Revolver I am DARN glad my Grandmother's Brother owned and CARRIED to work for quite a few years. The story goes he bought it from a HOBO at a train station and this for a man who did not hunt at all and was definitely working poor in the 20's. OH MY GOD, no paperwork, no background check, AND he was carrying it loaded and CONCEALED. Yes, and for good reason.

You see the Unions were trying to force workers in the pearl button factories to unionize when they did not wish to. After trying to convince the workers, they began beating up the men with axe handles and clubs. Well, the men learned to gather in groups when they got close to the factories so the Union Terrorist Thugs could not ambush them in small numbers. So that no longer worked. Then the Union Terrorists started telling the women they would beat them up and rape them as well. THAT'S when my Great Uncle bought and carried the cheap Saturday Night Pistol. He told the Union Terrorist Thugs that if they even looked like they would go after the women, he would shoot them dead. They had already informed the local law enforcement of the beatings and threats, but there was not much the LE officials could do in those days. I'm glad to say he only ever had to draw the pistol once and never had to shoot it, but only because the Union Terrorists saw he meant what he said.

I never quite understood why one of my WWI Veteran Grandfathers was for and the other was so highly against the Unions as I was growing up. I actually did not learn the whole story until about 20 years ago.

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Old December 19th, 2011, 02:38 PM   #14
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Yep Gus, I should have said "property", not limited to land per se. :) Good discussion....O.L.

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Old December 19th, 2011, 03:03 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DukeRustfield View Post
The fact it's not random citizens is because they were required to train and form ranks. Not be Billy Hillbilly sitting with his AR and calling himself a militiaman.
I'm sorry but that is just too funny for words. You once again show your ignorance. There are many 18th century accounts of how poorly so many of the militia was trained. One militiaman was fined for having corn in his barrel. Now, the Provincials were another thing entirely, though, but they were NOT regular folks. I might suggest you are mixing up militia with the Provincials.


Quote:
Originally Posted by DukeRustfield View Post
Because they didn't time travel when they wrote them. But you are when you put today's standards on 200 year old laws. It's easy to look backwards. But you're saying the laws are "living" in that their content should morph with the times. Okay. But do the conditions also morph with the times? Or is it just the brand of firearm? We don't have the state militia system anymore.
I see you have not even bothered to inform yourself on USC Title 10 and the Reserve Militia, which you do have in your own state, BTW.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DukeRustfield View Post
I guess you missed those giant quotes. They're the things in quotes, btw. And your "facts" are just you saying that a gun back then should be translocated to an "equivalent" gun today, completely ignoring the reasons why they needed those guns.
No, I am not ignoring the reasons the guns were needed. Are you going to try to even suggest that the 2nd Amendment is only about what is "needed?" If so, you will be turning in the rest of your guns to your state in the near future, if you believe that argument.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DukeRustfield View Post

We have a National Guard now, which 100% supercedes what is written in this act. It is now legally irrelevant. The Militia Act is gone. That is fact. You could cite it in any court in the land and it would be discarded.
Your "facts" are not facts at all.

You don't even know your own state law in this regard, let alone USC Title 10.

"Search CAL. MVC. CODE 550 : California Code - Section 550
Search by Keyword or Citation
Whenever any part of the National Guard of this State is in active federal service, or when Congress so consents thereto, the Governor is hereby authorized to organize and maintain within this State during such period, under such regulations as the Secretary of Defense of the United States may prescribe for discipline in training, such military forces as the Governor may deem necessary to defend and for the security of this State; provided, however, the Governor may authorize the organization and maintenance of such forces at cadre strength at any time. Such forces shall be composed of officers commissioned or assigned, and such qualified citizens or aliens who have declared their intentions to become citizens as shall volunteer for service therein, supplemented, if necessary, by members of the unorganized militia enrolled by draft or otherwise as provided by law. Such forces shall be additional to and distinct from the National Guard and shall be known as the State Military Reserve. Such forces shall be uniformed under such conditions and subject to such regulations as the Governor may prescribe."

and: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reserve..._distinguished

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