The Founding Fathers Did Not Intend the 2nd Amendment To Protect US Citizens From Their Government

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Commentary and Research by Peter J. Krieser

This information refutes the gun lobby's argument that it was the Founding Fathers intention that the Second Amendment involved protection of US citizens from the government. Those on the left argue that assault rifles are not needed for hunting and home protection. However, the excerpt from Larry Pratt, Executive Director, Gun Owners of America on Chris Matthews MSNBC “Hardball” on Monday, December 17, 2012 (below) and Wayne LaPierre’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence on Jan. 30, 2013 (below) shows that gun advocates view of the Second Amendment assault rifle possession isn't just about hunting or protection from criminals. It's about self-protection from the federal, state, and local government. They allege this protection was the Founding Fathers intention. Nothing could be farther from the truth!

The transcript excerpt from Chris Matthews Hardball Monday Dec. 17. 2012 states:


MATTHEWS: Would this be a less free country if you couldn`t have an assault rifle?

PRATT: Yes, because we have guns fundamentally protected by the Second Amendment --


MATTHEWS: Wait a minute. Why would anyone -- what?

PRATT: I thought you`d hear that. Yes. We have guns in order to control

the government.

At the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence on Jan. 30, 2013 (Transcript) Senator Dick Durban questioned Wayne LaPierre as follows:

Mr. LaPierre, I run into some of your members in Illinois and here’s what they tell me, “Senator, you don’t get the Second Amendment.” Your NRA members say, “You just don’t get it. It’s not just about hunting. It’s not just about sports. It’s not just about shooting targets. It’s not just about defending ourselves from criminals,” as Ms. Trotter testified. “We need the firepower and the ability to protect ourselves from our government” -- from our government, from the police -- “if they knock on our doors and we need to fight back.”

Do you agree with that point of view?

LAPIERRE: Senator, I think without any doubt, if you look at why our founding fathers put it there, they had lived under the tyranny of King George and they wanted to make sure that these free people in this new country would never be subjugated again and have to live under tyranny.

I also think, though, that what people all over the country fear today is being abandoned by their government. If a tornado hits, if a hurricane hits, if a riot occurs that they’re gonna be out there alone. And the only way they’re gonna protect themself (ph) in the cold and the dark, when they’re vulnerable is with a fire arm. And I think that indicates how relevant and essential the Second Amendment is in today’s society to fundamental human survival.

The Constitution was ratified by July 2, 1888. It went into effect on March 4, 1789. The first ten amendments, "Bill of Rights" (including the Second Amendment) to the U. S. Constitution were ratified December 15, 1791. The gun advocates say the Founding Fathers intended that gun ownership under the 2nd Amendment isn't just about hunting or protection from criminals. It's about self-protection from the federal, state, and local government. This allegation is not true!



Calliope Film Resources. "Shays' Rebellion" states:

By the year 1786, the "disunited states" (as the Tories liked to call them) had achieved political independence -- but the eastern states seemed on the verge of collapse as the flames of civil war menaced New England.

The American revolution, it seemed, had almost gone too far. General George Washington wrote:

"I am mortified beyond expression when I view the clouds that have spread over the brightest morn that ever dawned in any country... What a triumph for the advocates of despotism, to find that we are incapable of governing ourselves and that systems founded on the basis of equal liberty are merely ideal and fallacious."

Others in the political elite held the same opinion -- even Massachusetts' onetime Revolutionary agitator, Samuel Adams:

"Rebellion against a king may be pardoned, or lightly punished, but the man who dares to rebel against the laws of a republic ought to suffer death."

Only the young Thomas Jefferson -- reflecting more philosophically and from a safe distance in Europe -- disagreed:

"A little rebellion now and then is a good thing. It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government. God forbid that we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion."

All eyes were on Massachusetts, where the insurgents who called themselves "Regulators" or "Shays men" had brought about riots, raids, and the closing of courts.

The Shays insurgents never imagined that their actions would lead to charges of treason against the republic. In fact, they naturally appealed to the republican principles they had fought for in 1776. "I earnestly stepped forth in defense of this country, and liberty is still the object I have in view," an insurgent leader wrote to the public. Eastern political leaders, on the other hand, believed that the gains of the Revolution were being undone by "knaves and thieves" who "intended tyranny." Governor Bowdoin warned that any interference with the legal system would "frustate the great end of government -- the security of life, liberty and property." In a new and precarious republic, the danger of anarchy -- bringing a regression to a Hobbesian state of nature -- appeared all too real. From the commercial viewpoint, the farmers' demands for a circulating paper currency would bring depreciation and fiscal chaos, while non-payment of state taxes meant that men of wealth who had lent large sums to the war effort would be "drained of cash" and would face bankruptcy instead of the economic expansion they had hoped for. As the year 1787 dawned in this atmosphere, it seemed Massachusetts was divided into two armed camps. …

Shays' Rebellion was over, but Massachusetts' officially declared state of insurrection continued. A special court indicted more than 200 rebels -- including Parmenter, who had been caught returning to Massachusetts one night -- and prosecuted them in formal trials. Parmenter's court-appointed defenders included conservative attorney Caleb Strong, a prominent state senator who was almost as hostile to the rebellion as the prosecution. In April 1787, five Shays men charged with treason were condemned to hang. In the election of June 1787, Governor Bowdoin was roundly defeated by the state's most popular politician, John Hancock, famous signer of the Declaration. With a new administration in place, the question of clemency was now a symbolic issue debated by a divided public. General Lincoln himself, the subduer of Shays' Rebellion, came out in favor of mercy. On the other hand Samuel Adams, the influential Revolutionary patriot and head of the governor's advisory council, called for the execution of convicted traitors to the republic. At last a formula was devised which would equally dramatize the justice and the mercy of government: Parmenter and his fellow convicts were paraded at the gallows on June 21, 1787, before a large crowd of spectators -- and were reprieved only at the last instant.

The Rebellion and The Constitution

Shays' Rebellion had a generally unifying effect upon the supporters of a stronger national government, and it was a lesson frequently invoked on the floor of the Federal Convention during the summer of 1787.

For George Washington, who gave the insurrection as a reason for his own attendance at the Philadelphia convention, "there could be no stronger evidence of the want of energy in our governments than these disorders."

Massachusetts, its prestige in the union challenged, sent none other than Caleb Strong as one of its representatives to the Federal Convention, partly in order to signal to the nation that order was being restored -- for Strong was a conspicuously pro-government gentleman representing a notoriously unruly state.

Shays' Rebellion became a recurring example in the debates among framers of the Constitution, encouraging some to favor the "Virginia plan" (which called for an unprecedented and powerful central government) over the alternative "New Jersey plan" (which seemed too favorable to state sovereignty). "The rebellion in Massachusetts is a warning, gentlemen," cautioned James Madison, proponent of the Virginia plan. The Virginia plan -- the basis of a government that balances federal and state power, and balances the power among the states themselves -- carried by a vote of seven to three on June 19, 1787. The proposed Constitution of the United States, safeguarding the institution of property from financial disruption and from future taxpayer rebellions, was signed by 39 representatives of 12 states on September 17, 1787. New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the Constitution -- making it the law of the land -- on June 21, 1788.

Calliope Film Resources. "Shays' Rebellion." Copyright 2000 CFR. , Visited January 29, 2013.

The Virginia Plan envisioned a strong central federal government, whereas the New Jersey Plan imagined a weak federal government with substantially more state autonomy. As stated at

The Virginia Plan

The plan, Randolph confessed, "meant a strong consolidated union in which the idea of states should be nearly annihilated."

… The critical issue, described succinctly by Gouverneur Morris on May 30, was the distinction between a federation and a national government, the "former being a mere compact resting on the good faith of the parties; the latter having a compleat and compulsive operation." Morris favored the latter, a "supreme power" capable of exercising necessary authority not merely a shadow government, fragmented and hopelessly ineffective.

The New Jersey Plan

This nationalist position revolted many delegates who cringed at the vision of a central government swallowing state sovereignty. … Paterson proposed a "union of the States merely federal." The "New Jersey resolutions" called only for a revision of the articles to enable the Congress more easily to raise revenues and regulate commerce. It also provided that acts of Congress and ratified treaties be "the supreme law of the States."

For 3 days the convention debated Paterson's plan, finally voting for rejection. …

By July 10 George Washington was so frustrated over the deadlock that he bemoaned "having had any agency" in the proceedings and called the opponents of a strong central government "narrow minded politicians . . . under the influence of local views." The Virginia plan was adopted. Thus, a strong federal government is exactly what the founding fathers incorporated into U.S. Constitution which went into effect on March 4, 1789 and the Bill of Rights,ratified December 15, 1791.


Shortly, after the ratification of the Bill of Rights the Whiskey Rebellion occurred.

In 1794 thousands of farmers in western Pennsylvania took up arms in opposition to the enforcement of a federal law calling for the imposition of an excise tax on distilled spirits. Known as the "Whiskey Rebellion," this insurrection represented the largest organized resistance against federal authority between the American Revolution and the Civil War. A number of the whiskey rebels were prosecuted for treason in what were the first such legal proceedings in the United States.

The rebellion began in Pittsburgh during October of 1791….In May of 1795 the Circuit Court for the Federal District of Pennsylvania indicted thirty-five defendants for an assortment of crimes associated with the Whiskey Rebellion. Twenty-four rebels were charged with serious federal offenses, including high treason. Two men, John Mitchell and Philip Vigol, were found guilty of treason, and sentenced to hang.

By extinguishing the Whiskey Rebellion, the U.S. government withstood a formidable challenge to its sovereignty. Preceded by Shays's rebellion in 1786, and followed by Fries's rebellion in 1799, the Whiskey Rebellion is distinguished by its size. While all three rebellions were motivated by their opposition to burdensome taxes, neither Daniel Shays nor John Fries ever gathered more than a few hundred supporters at any one time. On at least one occasion, as many as 15,000 men and women marched on Pittsburgh in armed opposition to the federal excise tax on whiskey.

The Whiskey Rebellion also occupies a distinguished place in American jurisprudence. Serving as the backdrop to the first treason trials in the United States, the Whiskey Rebellion helped delineate the parameters of this constitutional crime. Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution defines treason as "levying War" against the United States. During the trials of the two men convicted of treason, Circuit Court Judge William Paterson instructed the jury that "levying war" includes armed opposition to the enforcement of a federal law. This interpretation of the Treason Clause was later applied during the trial of John Fries, and remains valid today.

"Whiskey Rebellion." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. 2005. 31 Jan. 2013


Fries's Rebellion was the third of three tax-related rebellions in the 18th century United States, the earlier two being Shays' Rebellion (central and western Massachusetts, 1786–87) and the Whiskey Rebellion (western Pennsylvania, 1794). John Fries's Rebellion, also called the House Tax Rebellion, the Home Tax Rebellion, and, in Deitsch the Heesses-Wasser Uffschtand, was an armed tax revolt among Pennsylvania Dutch farmers between 1799 and 1800.

When the Quasi-War with France threatened to escalate in 1798, Congress raised a large army and enlarged the navy. To pay for it, Congress in July 1798 imposed $2 million in new taxes on real estate and slaves, apportioned among the states according to the requirements of the Constitution. It was the first (and only) such federal tax. Congress had also recently passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, criminalizing dissent and increasing the power of the executive branch under John Adams.

Opposition to the tax spread to other parts of Pennsylvania. In Penn, the appointed assessor resigned under public threats; the assessors in Hamilton[clarification needed] and Northampton also begged to resign, but were refused as nobody else could be found to take their places.[3] Federal warrants were issued, and the U.S. Marshal began arresting people for tax resistance in Northampton. Arrests were made without much incident until the marshal reached Macungie, then known as Millerstown,[4] where a crowd formed to protect a man from arrest. Failing to make that arrest, the marshal made a few others and returned to Bethlehem with his prisoners. Two separate groups of rebels independently vowed to liberate the prisoners, and marched on Bethlehem.[5] The militia prevailed and Fries and other leaders were arrested.

Thirty men went on trial in Federal court. Fries and two others were tried for treason and, with Federalists stirring up a frenzy, were sentenced to be hanged. President John Adams pardoned Fries and others convicted of treason.

Fries's Rebellion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


…the South argued that each state had the right to secede—leave the Union—at any time, that the Constitution was a "compact" or agreement among the states. Northerners (including President Buchanan) rejected that notion as opposed to the will of the Founding Fathers who said they were setting up a "perpetual union".[43] Historian James McPherson writes concerning states' rights and other non-slavery explanations:

While one or more of these interpretations remain popular among the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other Southern heritage groups, few professional historians now subscribe to them. Of all these interpretations, the state's-rights argument is perhaps the weakest. It fails to ask the question, state's rights for what purpose? State's rights, or sovereignty, was always more a means than an end, an instrument to achieve a certain goal more than a principle.

On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as President. In his inaugural address, he argued that the Constitution was a more perfect union than the earlier Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, that it was a binding contract, and called any secession "legally void".


Today's gun advocates, ultra-left and ultra-right hate groups, and the NRA are alleging that the founding fathers purpose for the 2nd Amendment was to give United States citizens the right to take up arms to protect themselves from Federal Government actions. However, it is clear that the founding fathers did not take this position. Instead the founding fathers thought that taking up arms against the Federal Government was treason! The gun advocates allegation that the founding fathers purpose for the 2nd Amendment is self-protection of United States citizens from the United States Federal Government is false.

Peter J. Krieser

Minnetonka, MN 55305

Peter J Krieser is a 1972 graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School. 1972 he was admitted to the Minnesota Bar. Member Board of Governors: Minnesota State Bar Association, Hennepin County Bar Association, and Minnesota Trial Lawyers Association. Appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court Board of Legal Certification. Member and Chairperson of the Minnesota State Bar Association Council for Legal Certification, which evaluated candidates for legal certification. 1973 until 1999 private practice with an emphasis on civil personal injury, disability, insurance law. 1999 became a Minnesota Assistant Attorney General (Manager of Minnesota AGO Health Licensing Division [1999], Senior litigation attorney [Senior Advocate] Minnesota AGO Health Licensing Division [1999-2009]). Retired 2009. He is, currently, a licensed member of the Minnesota Bar, and the Minnesota U.S District Court Bar.

pkrieser's picture
Oct. 27, 2010 12:36 pm


What people like La Pierre are trying to do is stir up a revolt in this country. It all falls in with the Grover Norquist idea of shrinking government down enough where it is a non factor. People of this mindframe either want a corporate government (like in the 1975 movie Rollerball) or no government at all. Government to them means rules. Without government almost everything could be privatized and exploited for profit. A corporate governement would mean zero possiblilty of a voting system.

La Pierre appears to be mentally unstable. What's worse is that he doesn't actully represent the views of most NRA members and I am surprised they haven't called for him to step down. That may be just a matter of time. I would say that for roughly 90% of Americans, a revolt is the last thing on their minds. We all complain about the government. The U.S. Government has a long history of doing some incredibly terrible things but do we want the alternative of either the power elite running the show or maybe just plain old chaos?

Captain Hiltz's picture
Captain Hiltz
May. 28, 2010 8:31 am

What we need is for the true gun owners of the NRA to take back control of the organization from the parasites that have turned it into a lobbying group for the gun manufacturers and sellers.

A majority of NRA members are for universal background checks, but the management rails against them as unconstitutional. That is just one of many disagreements between the wants of the members and the actions of the so-called leaders.

We need a reverse of the revolt that took place in 1977 during the NRA annual meeting in Cincinnati annual meeting.

"No compromise. No gun legislation" ... "How NRA’s true believers converted a marksmanship group into a mighty gun lobby"

Jul. 7, 2011 11:13 am

I created this account solely to clear up your dellusions with just one quote:

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. ... God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion; what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms." -- Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, 1787

ditkacigar89's picture
May. 6, 2013 4:25 am

There is a difference between an armed rebellion and an unarmed rebellion. An armed rebellion would be an act of treason whether it's 1791 or 1991. An unarmed rebellion is what the "occupy movement" was all about and most of the conservative gun nuts called for criminal prosecution in those cases. An unarmed rebellion is anti-American in their eyes and yet they scream about their constitutional right to have an armed rebellion. It's a deep pshycosis for which there is no cure.

Bush_Wacker's picture
Jun. 25, 2011 6:53 am

"Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence … from the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurences and tendencies prove that to ensure peace security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable … the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that's good."
George Washington

"Those who hammer their guns into plowshares will plow for those who do not."
Thomas Jefferson

And what country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

Thomas Jefferson

"I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them."

George Mason

  • Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive."
    --Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution (Philadelphia 1787).

  • "Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American...[T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people."
    --Tenche Coxe, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.

  • "What, Sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty .... Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins."
    -- Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, spoken during floor debate over the Second Amendment, I Annals of Congress at 750, August 17, 1789
  • "The militia is the natural defense of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpation of power by rulers. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of the republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally ... enable the people to resist and triumph over them."
    -- Joseph Story, Supreme Court Justice, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, p. 3:746-7, 1833

Another liberal progressive bites the dust!

fognog2's picture
Jun. 6, 2013 5:18 am

Perhaps at one time, they could damper government authoritarianism. In the modern world, rifles don't seem to be of much use fighting tanks, drones, smart bombs and missiles.

Examples of that are pretty abundant.

I noticed that when banks and financiers drove Argentina to its knees, the Argentine Army remained in its barracks rather than propping them up with another dictatorship. Their Pres. fled the capitol in a helicopter.

The people, armed with pots and pans, overthrew the neo-liberal conservative government.Their destitution hit a breaking point. The army remained in its barracks. Soldiers are people, too.

Retired Monk - "Ideology is a disease"

Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

A big concern of the Founding Fathers was not that the population would be disarmed by taking firearms away from people (or barring them from possessing them in the first place), but rather that the various States would neglect their Militias, and that when they were most needed (i.e., in an emergency or crisis situation) they would be either unready or unable to be of service.

In regards to the firearms in use at the time - flintlocks - the main problem was that keeping these firearms in good working order took a lot of work and effort, while maintaining proficiency in their use, especially in a military context, required a bit of time and practice. (Flintlock was the general name for any rifle or pistol that used a flintlock mechanism, while the word “musket” referred to flintlocks specifically designed for military use.)

The following excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on Flintlocks ( discussed the problems inherent in using flintlocks/muskets and serves to provide a clear idea of why it would be necessary for Militias to meet and practice together on a regular basis if they were to have any hope of maintaining military effectiveness (especially on short notice)…


Flintlock muskets were the mainstay of European armies between 1660 and 1840. A musket was a muzzle-loading smoothbore long gun that was loaded with a round lead ball, but it could also be loaded with shot for hunting. For military purposes, the weapon was loaded with ball, or a mixture of ball with several large shot (called buck and ball), and had an effective range of about 75 to 100 metres. Smoothbore weapons that were designed for hunting birds were called "fowlers." Flintlock muskets tended to be of large caliber and usually had no choke, so they could also be used to fire a ball.

Military flintlock muskets tended to weigh approximately ten pounds, as heavier weapons were found to be too cumbersome, and lighter weapons were not rugged or heavy enough to be used in hand to hand combat. They were usually designed to be fitted with a bayonet. On flintlocks, the bayonet played a much more significant role, often accounting for a third or more of all battlefield casualties. This is a rather controversial topic in history though, given that casualties list from several battles in the 18th century showed that less than 2% of wounds were caused by bayonets. Antoine-Henri Jomini, a celebrated military author of the Napoleonic period who served in numerous armies during that period, stated that the majority of bayonet charges in the open resulted with one side fleeing before any contacts were made. Flintlock weapons were not used like modern rifles. They tended to be fired in mass volleys, followed by bayonet charges in which the weapons were used much like the pikes that they replaced. Because they were also used as pikes, military flintlocks tended to be approximately five or six feet in length (without the bayonet attached), and used bayonets that were approximately 18 to 22 inches in length.

Flintlocks were prone to many problems, compared to modern weapons. Misfires were common. The flint had to be properly maintained, as a dull or poorly napped piece of flint would not make as much of a spark and would increase the misfire rate dramatically. Moisture was a problem, since moisture on the frizzen or damp powder would prevent the weapon from firing. This meant that flintlock weapons could not be used in rainy or damp weather. Some armies attempted to remedy this by using a leather cover over the lock mechanism, but this proved to have only limited success.

Accidental firing was also a problem for flintlocks. A burning ember left in the barrel could ignite the next powder charge as it was loaded. This can be avoided by waiting between shots for any leftover residue to completely burn. Running a lubricated cleaning patch down the barrel with the ramrod will also extinguish any embers, and will clean out some of the barrel fouling as well. Soldiers on the battlefield could not take these precautions though. They had to fire as quickly as possible, often firing three to four rounds per minute. Loading and firing at such a pace dramatically increased the risk of an accidental discharge.

When a flintlock is fired it sprays a shower of sparks forwards from the muzzle and another sideways out of the flash-hole. One reason for firing in volleys was to ensure that one man's sparks didn't ignite the next man's powder as he was in the act of loading.

An accidental frizzen strike can also ignite the main powder charge, even if the pan has not yet been primed. Some modern flintlock users will place a leather cover over the frizzen while loading as a safety measure to prevent this from happening. This also slows down the loading time, which prevented safety practices such as this from being used on the battlefield.

The black powder used in flintlocks would quickly foul the barrel, which was a problem for rifles and for smooth bore weapons that fired a tighter fitting round for greater accuracy. Each shot would add more fouling to the barrel, making the weapon more and more difficult to load. Even if the barrel was badly fouled, the flintlock user still had to properly seat the round all the way to the breech of the barrel. Leaving an air gap in between the powder and the round (known as "short starting") was very dangerous, and could cause the barrel to explode.

Handling loose black powder was also dangerous, for obvious reasons. Powder measures, funnels, and other pieces of equipment were usually made out of brass to reduce the risk of creating a spark, which could ignite the powder. Soldiers often used pre-made "cartridges", which unlike modern cartridges were not inserted whole into the weapon. Instead, they were tubes of paper that contained a pre-measured amount of powder and a lead ball. Although paper cartridges were safer to handle than loose powder, their primary purpose was not safety related at all. Instead, paper cartridges were used mainly because they sped up the loading process. A soldier did not have to take the time to measure out powder when using a paper cartridge. He simply tore open the cartridge, used a small amount of powder to prime the pan, then dumped the remaining powder from the cartridge into the barrel.

The black powder used in flintlocks contained sulfur. If the weapon was not cleaned after use, the powder residue would absorb moisture from the air and would combine it with the sulfur to produce sulfuric acid. This acid would erode the inside of the gun barrel and the lock mechanism. Flintlock weapons that were not properly cleaned and maintained would corrode to the point of being destroyed.

So at the time of this country’s founding, people living on the frontier and out in the countryside would definitely keep and be proficient with flintlocks for both defensive purposes and to hunt with.

However, there would not be much incentive for people living in more urban areas to keep and maintain flintlocks. To begin with, they were expensive to obtain, and urban dwellers would have no real, day-to-day need for keeping such weapons in the first place (i.e., they didn't need to protect themselves from Indians or wild animals and they certainly did not hunt for food). Thus the real basis for the 2nd amendment was to ensure that States could and would maintain their militias.

So when gun fanatics try to justify their ownership of modern day weapons such as ARs etc., by comparing them to the flintlocks and muskets that the Founding Fathers had available to them, they are being either naïve or rather disingenuous (e.g., they are fond of claiming that the "musket was the assault rifle of its day" which, in a sense was true, but definitely does not convey the true or full context of the 2nd amendment). I highly doubt that too many of these gun fanatics would be willing to put in the time, effort, and practice needed to either keep their flintlocks in good operating condition and/or maintain their own proficiency with this type of weaponry.

(Note: Tench Coxe was a big proponent of having the federal government actively provide firearms to private citizens for Militia use, and even thought that these firearms should would be given away free to or subsidized for Militia members who could not otherwise afford them. He worked tirelessly towards this goal throughout his public career.)

Gary the Gun Nut
Feb. 3, 2013 2:16 pm

@fognog2 It will be evident if you check some of my posts in other threads that I am a staunch defender of the 2nd. Please check your sources on the quotes you use as some of them are not verifiable.

mjolnir's picture
Mar. 3, 2011 11:42 am
Quote Gary the Gun Nut:

(Note: Tench Coxe was a big proponent of having the federal government actively provide firearms to private citizens for Militia use, and even thought that these firearms should would be given away free to or subsidized for Militia members who could not otherwise afford them. He worked tirelessly towards this goal throughout his public career.)

Well... First, Peirmont has ruled that Tench Coxe is not worthy of consideration as a source for Founder intent. Mostly because Coxe proves my point and spanks Pier.

Second, That is not how I would characterize Tench Coxe. Tench Coxe and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, 1787-1823

Third, Coxe & Frasier was a musket manufacturing company

Capital1's picture
Jul. 31, 2012 6:38 am
Quote Gary the Gun Nut:[...]However, there would not be much incentive for people living in more urban areas to keep and maintain flintlocks. To begin with, they were expensive to obtain, and urban dwellers would have no real, day-to-day need for keeping such weapons in the first place (i.e., they didn't need to protect themselves from Indians or wild animals and they certainly did not hunt for food).[...]
Really? I think your statement may be overly broad.

"While not designated as militia type weapons by the Militia Act of 1792, General Gage (British) in 1775 recognized the military value of pistols and other guns. During the British garrison of Boston, and the subsequent American siege of that town after the battles of Lexington and Concord, General Gage allowed Bostonians to evacuate the city. The inhabitants who left had to lodge their weapons with the selectmen who marked their names on them for return later so the insurgent American forces could not be supplied with weapons. "On the 27th of April the people delivered to the selectmen 1778 fire-arms, 634 pistols, 973 bayonets, and 38 blunderbusses; . . ." 46. General Gage did not intend to permanently disarm the people, even in the midst of battle for the weapons were to be returned, but he recognized the value to his enemy of being supplied with arms by refugees of war.

As the British army sat penned up under siege in the city for several months however General Howe, who had replaced General Gage, received intelligence that some civilians who remained in the city had not turned in their weapons. Those citizens had previously been considered loyal Tories, but as the American lines outside the city became more impenetrable the general became more suspicious-even paranoid of the intentions of the citizens for keeping their arms. He ordered that all civilians were, "immediately to surrender them at the court-house, . . .that all persons in whose possession any fire-arms might hereafter be found should be deemed enemies to his majesty’s government." 47. Thus English citizens lost one more liberty that had long been enjoyed as a rite of free men. Arbitrary government would not tolerate the possibility of armed resistance."

(46),(47) - History of the Siege of Boston pp. 94, 95.

History of the Siege of Boston p. 208.

The numbers are hard to pin down since at first Gage allowed women and children to leave but later kept them hostage. Of the 4-5 thousand known to have left Boston we have a gun/person ratio of at least 1/2, hardly the epitome of an unarmed populace.

mjolnir's picture
Mar. 3, 2011 11:42 am


Further commentary by: Peter Krieser

The Constitution was adopted on September 17, 1787, by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and ratified by conventions in eleven States. It went into effect on March 4, 1789.

Shays Rebellion penalty for convictions of insurrection occurred after adoption of the Constitution: Two of the condemned men, John Bly and Charles Rose, were hanged on December 6, 1787.

Civil War:

Amendment 14

Section 2.

Representatives shall be apportioned … except for participation in rebellion, or other crime

Section 3.

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.

It is clear the founders of the United States did not pass the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution with the idea that the Second Amendment incorporated a right to take up arms against the federal government. At the time of the Civil War the criminal nature of insurrection or rebellion against the federal government was again reiterated in Section 2 and Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment.


pkrieser's picture
Oct. 27, 2010 12:36 pm

The citizens need protection from a shutdown of the government.

Robindell's picture
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Trump Is Using Racist White People To Make The Rich Richer

There is this whole mythology that Donald Trump came to power because 53% of white women voted for him, because 66% of white working men who didn't have a college degree voted for him.

That may be, but those are not his constituents. Those are his suckers. Those are his rubes.

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