Commentary: ‘Weapons of war’ should not be legal on streets

I become angrier and more discouraged every day I listen to the news, and there has been another shooting in one of our schools in America. We have got to do something about this! So many of these shootings are done with what I call Weapons of War – AR14 and AR15.

What are they? These have been developed and used in faraway countries where our enlisted personnel are fighting wars. They can shoot up to 600 bullets a minute! They are being sold at gun shows and, on our streets, and being used to kill our children.

Do you know when the 2nd amendment was approved? “The Second Amendment provides U.S. citizens the right to bear arms. Ratified in December 1791, the amendment says: 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.” Do you know what the guns were like? muskets; and what were muskets? Here is how you loaded them and how many you could shoot in a minute!

Muskets or any flintlock firearms are generally always reloaded via the muzzle like a cannon. First, a “powder horn” or “powder flask” is used to pour “grains of shot” aka gunpowder down the muzzle and into the bore where it settles at the breech. Experts may be able to eyeball how much powders needed for a successful “fire,” but many people use a ‘measuring flask’ in order to make sure the correct amount’s inserted. For many later muskets,100 grains of shot is recommended.

After the gunpowder’s inserted, a cloth wad is placed on the muzzle and then the lead ball or bullet is placed on top of the wad. The wad isn’t always needed, but it helps to make sure the ball’s airtight within the barrel so that it won’t come rolling back out. The wad also helps to secure an airtight chamber in the breech which ultimately makes the ignition more effective. The detachable “ramrod,” which is usually always conveniently ready to withdraw from a tube underneath the barrel, is used to tamp the lead ball down the barrel until it’s snug with the powder in the breech above the trigger and below the pan.

Once the ball’s nice and snug, the ramrod is reinserted into its holder. The reloader then needs to “prime” the gun before he or she can fire it. This is done by lifting up the mechanism known as a “frizzen” where the above-mentioned dish-like space known as a “pan” sits underneath.

A secondary smaller powder horn known as a “priming horn” is used to fill the pan with a finer version of gunpowder known as “primer” or “priming powder.” It’s important that primer is put into the pan because primer contains less saltpeter aka potassium nitrate than normal gunpowder.

Unlike your typical, coarse gunpowder, primer is smokeless when it ignites, and since the pan sits close to the operator’s eye when he or she is aiming, you can imagine why it’s a good idea to have a smokeless ignition. But of course, in times of war, getting a shot off no matter what is far more important than avoiding smoke in your eye. And remember that primer is also much finer than regular powder. That means it can catch a spark more easily and therefore acts as an engine’s spark plug, while the powder in the breach is the fuel so to speak.

Once the pan is primed, the frizzen is locked down to cover it, protecting the primer from the elements. The next step is to pull back the ‘cock.’ The cock is the hammer-like mechanism attached to the trigger that holds the flint. Once the gun is fully cocked, all the operator needs to do is aim and pull the trigger. When the trigger’s pulled, the cock snaps forward, smacking the flint against the frizzen. The frizzen unlocks and opens up from the force, revealing the pan.

This allows sparks from the flint to simultaneously fall into the pan and ignite the primer. A hole in the bottom of the pan allows the gunpowder behind the lead ball to also ignite forthwith. And presto! If everything is dry and loaded correctly, the bullet should zoom out posthaste. But aiming is a different story.

Historically, musketeers could reload a muzzleloader four times per minute on horseback.

That was the weapon of war when the 2nd Amendment was passed. We need to get the AR14 and AR15 off our streets and out of our schools. I am thankful that my grandchildren are 28 and 20 and not in elementary or high school anymore. I almost cry whenever I see the TV news broadcasting how our nation’s children are being trained to “lock down and shelter in place.” I feel like I am living in the Wild West and fear for what is happening in our nation.

I implore everyone who lives in Delaware to contact their state senator and request that they vote to get Senate Bill 68 out of committee and onto the floor for a vote and to vote for it when it is up for the floor vote. I am a lifelong Democrat and have never voted Republican. However, I promise I will vote for my Republican senator if he helps to get this bill out of committee and onto the floor and votes to finalize the passage.

Betty Deacon is a resident of Lewes.

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