By Mark Sumner / Daily Kos
On Wednesday night CNN had a Townhall-style debate in which NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch appeared to scowl at grieving parents and prove once and for all that the organization she represented was exactly as awful as it seems. No matter what approach was made, no matter how much either logic or grief was brought to bear, Loesch refused to consider anything that would put any limits on the sale of any weapons system whatsoever.
Loesch’s guns-at-any-cost whoppers hit a nadir when she responded to a comment that the Second Amendment was written at a time when firearms consisted of muskets by claiming that the Revolutionary War period was far more advanced than people believe:
“At the time there were fully-automatic firearms that were available, the Belton gun and the Puckle gun.”
It’s a claim Loesch has made before. On the blog supporting “The Dana Show,” she went so far as to extend her claims about the Puckle gun.
“One could argue that the so-called ‘assault rifle’ pre-dated the Second Amendment.”
One might argue that—if one was a lying asshole capable of sneering in the face of grieving parents while simply making shit up. Because this is a Puckle gun.
It was a two-man, tripod-mounted contraption where each barrel had to be loaded in advance with a ball and powder. With an experienced crew and good conditions, it could fire at a rate of almost three shots … per minute. And it held somewhere between 6 and 11 shots. Also, there was never a single Puckle gun in America. Only a handful were ever made in England, where the whole design was a failure. It’s unlikely that any signer of the Constitution had ever heard of it, or knew of its existence.
And Loesch’s other example of an 18th century “assault rifle,” the Belton gun, is even worse.
It’s worse because the Belton gun never existed at all. Belton proposed the gun to the Continental Congress and made extravagant claims that it could fire at a rate of multiple shots per second. He also claimed to be able to “prove by experimental proof” that he could build this weapon, but the Continental Congress turned him down when Belton asked for too much money to build his wonder weapon. If there was ever a single Belton gun, there is no surviving record.
So, Loesch is defending the idea that that the framers of the Constitution had the assault rifle in mind using one gun that had proved to be a failure and never come to America, and a second gun that never existed at all.
In previous attempts to defend this idea, Loesch was adept at smearing together timelines. Not only did she mention the Puckle gun as that Revolutionary War machine gun, she said …
“The Colt revolver followed not long after and in the late 1800s the Gatling gun, which fired 200 rounds per minute, appeared on the market.”
The first Colt revolver appeared in 1835, some 52 years after the end of the Revolutionary War. That’s more than the gap between the Wright Flyer and commercial transatlantic jet airliners. Not only that but the flintlock muskets that the Revolutionary armies used were along designs that hadn’t changed much in 150 years. The authors of the Second Amendment had no experience with more advanced weapons or any expectation that any advance would happen.
There was one feature of the Puckle gun that would particularly appeal to Trump supporters.
This early automatic weapon was rather bizarrely designed to fire round bullets at Christians and square bullets at the Muslim Turks. Square bullets were believed to cause more severe wounding than round ones, and according to the 1718 patent, ‘would convince the Turks of the benefits of Christian civilisation’.
That thrilling bit of 18th-century hate comes with a tech—firing square bullets—that no modern weapon can match. Why could the Puckle gun manage this? Because its barrels were not rifled. It didn’t spin the bullets for improved accuracy. The barrels were not rifled. So not only was Loesch’s Puckle gun not an assault rifle, it was not even a rifle at all. None of this stopped Loesch from trying to use these fantasy weapons to try and claim that the founding fathers would have been thrilled to support an AR-15 in every home.
“Many in the media love mass shootings,” @DLoesch tells the crowd at CPAC. “Crying white mothers are ratings gold.”
— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) February 22, 2018
Meanwhile, Marco Rubio demonstrated the other end of the NRA equation. Though he disagreed with the idea of teachers walking around elementary schools packing heat and tiptoed close to the idea of a limit on magazine size, when it came to the one question that counted, he was a tower of Jell-O.
When Kasky kept asking Rubio whether he would continue to accept the NRA’s contributions, the senator said that was the wrong way to look at it and that people “buy into” his agenda.
In other words, yes, Rubio will continue to pocket millions from the NRA. Because it’s not that people buy into Rubio’s agenda. It’s just that they buy it.
As expected, Loesch insisted that guns had nothing to do with all those bullets that were delivered to the children of Parkland, Florida. Instead, she repeatedly referred to the shooter as an “insane monster.” Which seems possible. Unlike the Belton gun, Loesch’s performance demonstrated that insane monsters are real.
What many people don’t understand, or don’t want to understand, is that Wayne, Chris and the folks who work so hard at the @NRA are Great People and Great American Patriots. They love our Country and will do the right thing. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 22, 2018