Friday, October 21, 2005

In which i get mail, from a usually reliable source (not a lawyer.)

In your blog, you asked
"My question: are bows and arrows arms within the meaning of the second
amendment and the kentucky constitution? Swords? Any case law on this?"

I'd certainly expect them to be covered by the Second Amendment;
don't know about Kentucky. Guns were becoming widely available
by the time of the Revolution, but that didn't mean that
everybody had them, and there're things they're not very good for,
like using after you've run out of ammo,
and reloading a muzzle-loader musket when you're on horseback
surrounded by peasants with pitchforks just doesn't work,
though pistols and bayonets gradually took over some of those jobs.

Swords were part of standard US Army weaponry at least as late as
Custer's 1876 defeat at Little Bighorn, and probably later,
so a well-ordered militia would be expected to have them.
General Lee may not have used his sword for anything other than
surrendering, but uniforms during the War Between the States
were designed to let you reach your sword for good reasons.

As far as bow and arrow go, not only did the Indians use them
effectively against the Americans until the late 1800s,
but massed use of bow and arrow was one of England's great
military strengths during the Middle Ages - Henry V's victory over
the French at Agincourt in 1415 was one of the prominent examples,
though the archers not only had armor-piercing "cop-killer" arrow-heads
but were also armed with pointed sticks
(which were the cheap version of pikes and spears)
used to defend against horsemen (or attackers with raspberries
and with swords, axes, etc. to kill armored knights after knocking them down.

And while William Tell http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Tell
was from the 1300s, he was still popular in fiction and
literary criticism in the 1760s as an enemy of tyrants.

So bows and arrows were used by well-ordered militia as well as
less-ordered militia
and bandits and terrorists and Native American Homeland Security,
useful for taking out armored knights and European armies
and faster to reload than colonial-period rifles or probably than any guns
until the revolver showed up a few decades later.

Maybe I should clarify that the propsed ordinance didn't ban bows and arrows, just their use. My right to own a gun might not include the right to shoot it off in my yard, slightly different issue. But I have the right to read a book, not just own one, so I'm not sure on this. Meanwhile, the pro-bow lobby is out in force so it may not pass anyway.

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