Wednesday, March 4, 2009


NO, we are not speaking of the contribution firearms make to natiional, State, Local and private personal protection, nor to the jobs the firearms industry provides.

Most folks get around by other means than walking. Whether you ride a bus, ride a bike or drive a car, without the firearms industry you would be walking or being pulled by a horse. Your washing machine and waffle iron, your electric guitar and its amp, your computer, even your clothing all would not have been possible but for the American firearms industry and specifically one inventor therein. His name was John Hall.

John noticed that loading a muzzle loading rifle took lots of time and was awkward. Plus, soldiers had to stand to do it, and on a battlefield that ain't good. So John invented a flintlock - yes, this was back before percussion caps - where the lock and the chamber were built into a block that popped out. Just pour in the powder, drop in the bullet, snap the block back in line with the barrel, prime the pan and fire!

But this wasn't good enough for John, because he also noticed that if a gun was broken, whatever part had to be replaced had to be custom-made because every gun was individully made from scratch. It took a while, but working out of the Harper's Ferry arsenal he finally fabricated the machine tools to precisely make every piece from the barrels right down to the screws exactly the same. A thousand guns could be taken apart and the parts thrown into a heap, and any barrel could be put with any reciever using any screw and the result would be a thousand guns each as good as any of the many guns they were put together from.

Unfortunately for John, Harper's Ferry Arsenal was infected with a case of office politics from Hell, and his operation was disbanded. If you wonder how the Federal Government could make such a stupid mistake and allow this to happen, you haven't been reading the news.

But the people who worked for John Hall took their experience with them, and they were the founders of American industry as we know it. The knowledge of how to mass-produce spread across the nation, and less than 75 years later, automobiles were rolling off Henry Ford's assembly line in Detroit.

It will probably come as a surprise to you that most of the things we enjoy in peacetime have their ancestry in the weapons of war. The Piano, that ultimate symbol of refinement (upon which Jackson Brown plays his damn peacenik music) is a descendant of the harp, which is the descendant of the bow - not the violin bow, the bow used to shoot arrows in ancient warfare. The carbon fiber frames that make the bikes that greenie-weenies ride to work so light were developed for space exploration, which began when the Nazis developed the V-2 ballistic missile during World War II. The Internet on which this blog is posted began as a Defense Department project. (Al Gore is as usual full of crap).

So next time someone tells you firearms are evil, point to his car or bike or even his shirt, and tell him he's a hypocrite. If he's naked and on foot, well, get him some shoes and a blanket. And tell him John Hall says "you're welcome".

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