“History is bunk” was a statement that has been attributed to Henry Ford.
Keep that statement in mind.
Bret the Beer Drinker (AKA Bret the Rapist) and Super Skier are among the Supreme Court justices who speak reverently of their “originalist” view of the U.S. Constitution.
Originalism means that the Constitution is interpreted from the viewpoint, and only the viewpoint, of what the framers knew in 1787 and therefore what they obviously mean by the various terms and conditions of the U.S. founding document.
Take the Second Amendment for example: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”.
The crux of that statement is the word “Arms”.
So what originalist meaning did that have, one might ask.
Examining the weapons of the most recent war to the framers’ document – that war being the American Revolution – might be the best way to answer that question.
The arms were the bayonet, various muskets and a type of long rifle (called a rifle because it was “rifled”; it had spiral grooves in the barrel that made the ball fly farther and more accurately that smooth bore “muskets”).
Since I have never heard white supremacists defending the right to keep and bear bayonets, I am going to assume that the originalist scrutiny that has given us the current sad state of affairs with guns in America has been focused upon the weapons of 1787 that were firearms –“Arms”.
The weapons that existed in 1787 were muzzle loaders – to prepare a muzzle loader for firing, one rammed a patch into the barrel with a ramrod, poured black powder into the barrel from a funnel-like powder horn, rammed a second patch on top of the powder and then rolled a ball in on top of the charge; then some powder was poured into a little pan located beneath the barrel where the charge resided; there was an access channel – a hole – so the flash from the pan could travel to the charge and ignite the charge and send the bullet on its way.
When a target was in sight the charge was detonated by tripping a trigger that flicked a lever that induced a spark from a piece of flint that was mounted in the lever (some say that the Zippo lighter stole this technology, but eliminated several steps) then the spark flashed the powder in the pan which traveled up the channel to the charge; the charge exploded and the ball flew more or less toward the target (more than less in the case of the rifles).
If the target had been a squirrel, the need to re-load was only driven by the possibility that there might have been two squirrels, and a second shot might have been able to double the size of the evening’s stew; slow – but quiet – reloading probably wouldn’t have adversely affected the success of the second shot (or the life of the shooter); if, on the other hand, the target had been a red coated Hessian charging with his own musket with bayonet brandishing, and if there were lots of them so charging with muskets and bayonets brandishing, and if the ball had missed the first one - or only damaged him - the act of reloading must have become rather dicey.
So, from an “Originalist” point of view, it would seem that the “Arms” mentioned in the Second Amendment should be considered to be pretty much single shot weapons.
Multi-shot, rifled barrel pistols didn’t even appear as Colt prototypes until the 1840’s.
That’s fifty years or so after the Second Amendment was written.
Multi-shot rifled barrel long guns first appeared in volume with the 1894 Browning designed Winchester Model 94.
That’s one hundred and seven years later.
The M16 began to take shape in the 1950’s.
Until a light low recoil weapon like the M16 was invented, high capacity removable magazines made no sense. The 30 caliber M14 was basically unusable with a magazine: it had too much recoil to shoot that many bullets.
All that points to a fact ignored by the originalists.
There were no Colt Six Shooters or Winchester Model 94’s, AR-15’s or high capacity magazines in 1787.
Originalism is bunk.