After GCA68 passed, the gun banners seemed ascendant, unstoppable. I heard increasing arguments that the Second Amendment was a collective right, that it was written to allow the National Guard to be armed – and while the logic was missing from the arguments, it was pretty obvious to me that they were passing laws that bloody well infringed on the ‘right to keep and bear arms’. I didn’t expect to be able to own handguns for the rest of my life.
I expected that, as a nation, we would go through increasingly restrictive legislation. Remember, the National Rifle Association was first and foremost an organization that organized shooting competitions – not a particularly politically active bunch. NRA moved into political activism, and others followed . . . but by 1994, under Clinton, they passed what was called the Assault Weapons Ban. The only glimmer of hope was that it had a ten-year expiration date.
In the Seventies, I looked at what was left unregulated, and saw that I could still get replicas of percussion revolvers developed about the time of the war between the states. A bit of calculation showed that the Remington New Model Army had about the same muzzle energy as a 38 special, and, with a cylinder that was easy to change, could be reloaded fairly quickly.
A repeating rifle, using percussion technology, was a bit more challenging. The Colt Dragoon revolver offered a heavier cylinder, roughly equivalent to the 45 Colt or 44/40 cartridge energy levels, and Val Forgett at Navy Arms was offering one with an 18 inch barrel and a detachable stock.
So I bought one of each, with a spare cylinder for the short gun – recognizing that the Dragoon was nearly equivalent to a model 1873 Winchester carbine, and that the Remington pattern revolver, with a spare cylinder, was nearly equivalent to a cartridge revolver.
There has been a couple of significant improvements for caplock revolver reliability in the past few years – wonder wads have the original purpose of reducing the possibility of multiple discharges, but can also be used to load the revolver with the equivalent of a .410 shotgun load of birdshot. The other new development is percussion cap keepers – small vinyl tubes that surround the percussion cap, keeping it from falling off due to impacts and recoil. They are a bit easier to use than in Wild Bill Hickock’s day.
Yet despite having more efforts at gun bans, the Supreme Court has reached the conclusion that “shall not be infringed” means what it says. The gun banners seem to realize that their desired legislation is not constitutional. Now, we just have to see how the court cases on pistol braces come out. The issue of gun control in my lifetime has turned out far better than I had expected.