Among the many reasons I like reading history is you come across perspectives from an earlier time that offer substantive meaning on what culture is going through today.
At the moment, I'm reading a book, Mayflower, by Nathaniel Philbrick, which was published in 2002 and win the National Book Award. It not only tells of the travel over to the New World by the Pilgrims, but the continuation of the community over the next 50 years. (If you're interested, you can find it here.)
Last night, I came across the following passage --
"Despite their show of defiance, the Pilgrims were deeply troubled by the Narragansett threat. Their little village was, they realized, wide open to attack. Their cumbersome muskets took an agonizingly long time to reload."
I know it's often been said in gun debates, but it's always out of context, as a random observation. But it takes on a far more forceful impact when seeing it addressed in reality. The Pilgrims felt at risk against arrows because though they had rifles, those "took an agonizingly long time to reload."
This -- as is often pointed out -- is the world the Founding Fathers lived in when they wrote the U.S. Constitution and put in the Second Amendment about a well-armed militia. A world where muskets didn't just take time to reload, but an agonizingly long time.
Geez, by that standard, even the repeater shot gun that cowboys used in the Old West would probably have been a horrifying concept.
So, let's hear to for semi-automatic weapons! For an average shooter, a 30-round magazine can be emptied in about 15 seconds. Two rounds a second. Not so agonizing to load at all. Progress!! Alas, it's the results that have become agonizing.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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