By David Tripp and Noah Davis
I make this title in jest but let me lay out the premise of the statement in a relative way. The Charleville Musket was one of the most advanced rifles of its day during the 1770-1776 time period. There were smooth bore and rifled bore versions, hardened retaining bands for the barrel, the scouring stick was modified with a pear shaped head for better cleaning and powder compression. The scouring stick had a compression spring. Finally it had a modified lock plate, just to name just a few of the changes during that span of years.
It had a mount for a Bayonet that could be between one and two feet long. They were imported from France primarily during the war for independence. This rifle would later be the forefather of the Springfield Musket of 1795. The Charlesville had not changed much since its earliest days of production in 1717. But it was the most advanced, widely popular and accessible firearm of its day. American colonists used it throughout the expansion west, for hunting, for home defense, personal protection, and as their primary weapon if called into action for the crown or local militia.
Now, based on the American Heritage Dictionary, “assault” is defined as “a violent physical attack” or “a strong or cutting verbal attack”. In June, 1775 at Bunker Hill, when the colonists ran low on or out of ammunition, they attached their bayonets and swung their rifles as they were clubs. I am sure in that day, when the battle was down to hand to hand combat even items such as shovels, fists, rakes or rifles with no ammunition all would have been deemed “assault weapon”.
Since those days, several things have happened. For one, we experienced the Industrial Revolution, which gave us complex machinery that could make straighter barrels to improve accuracy and make more precise cuts and holes. It also provided the ability to create hardened steel and alloys, all of which improved reliability. More recently, we have learned to create plastics, clear glass and LED lighting to further advance optics. We have learned to make shells and cartridges that speed up the loading process.
During the American Civil War, the Springfield 1861 musket was the most common rifle. It used paper cartridges, percussion cap primers and had flip up sights. Its firing rate increased from around 1 round a minute to an average of 3 from the 1770 rifle versions. As time passed during the war, the invention of the revolving rifle made its appearance based on the revolver pistols of the day. Additionally the lever action rifles such as the Henry, which gave a distinct advantage to one group over any group using Springfields, as it had a 15 round tubular magazine and could reload shortly after firing with little to no delay.
During World War I, we had the advent of the bolt action and semi-automatic with magazine and clip fed rifles used by infantry. These were similar to the ones used by civilians for hunting for the period. But World War II is where things started shifting. Despite the creation of the infantry-carried automatics such as the M1A1 Thompson Submachine gun, civilians would normally still use Semi-Automatics such as the M1 Garand or similar. The military had a monopoly on automatics and civilians would not be allowed to go down that path without considerable fees.
This continues all the way to the Vietnam war when the M16 was produced. At some point the decision was made to remove its ability for full-auto fire, as it was uncontrollable, overheated the barrel and ammo consumption was way too high. So they eventually downgraded it to just having a semi-auto and 3 round burst. To this day it is still the mainstay of the U.S. military. The only close equivalent on the civilian side is the Armalite-15 (AR-15) which only has the capability for semi-auto.
Today the six-times great grandson of that Charleville Musket rifle that matches all the same criteria, “most advanced, widely popular and accessible” is being called an assault weapon even though it does not have the capabilities of what is used by the military. It can be argued that anything you pick up and use for violence can be considered an “assault weapon”, a pencil, baseball bat, knife, or even your fist.
We have a population who has failed to teach our kids the history of our country. We have allowed those who hate our country and heritage to indoctrinate and sway the youth we entrusted to the state run school systems into believing their ideology. Corporations and billionaires use money to influence those we elect to represent us and conspire to remove our rights. The free press is now owned by those same billionaires and it has been weaponized to distort perceptions, thought, and reality.
What if back then they had gotten away with disarming the colonists’ way of self defense would our country still be under British rule to this day, or would we have been invaded and ruled over by Spain, France or some other country because our forefathers lacked the ability to defend their homes.
Let us not forget that the old Charleville Musket they refused to forfeit, which today would be considered an antique. Rather than an “assault” rifle that represented cutting edge technology of its time. The rifle that enabled our forefathers to drive off the British and pave the way for the United States to be formed and at that time for freedom to be grasped.