And so, depart ye from this Web Electric and hie ye to the village square, there to step upon a soapbox and harangue all who pass by to your heart’s content. Or perhaps dip your sharpened goose quill in a well of ink and scribe your thoughts on paper to be carried one to another upon horseback. Or if ye must, set forth your thoughts in lead and antimony type, roll ink upon it and squeeze paper to it with a hand-cranked press which ye can then distribute from town to town in carts drawn by oxen.
Sounds pretty ridiculous, doesn’t it? But if the 2nd only applies to the technology available in the late eighteenth century, then the other rights (like those of the first, pastiched here) would also be so limited.
The idea that the 2nd Amendment only applies to muskets is as ridiculous as the claim that it only allows the government to arm its own troops. The Bill of Rights forbids the government from infringing on certain rights (which exist irrespective of what government might say, indeed, they must in order to be rights at all) as concepts, not the specific implementation of those rights.
Indeed, time and again the courts have ruled that the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights were not limited to just the methods, means, and technologies available to those who first wrote them. As the late Justice Scalia wrote in the Heller Decision:
Some have made the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment . We do not interpret constitutional rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications, e.g., Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U. S. 844, 849 (1997) , and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search, e.g., Kyllo v. United States, 533 U. S. 27, 35–36 (2001) , the Second Amendment extends, prima facie,to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding.
Then there’s the flip side. The folk who say the 2nd only applies to Muskets (which we’ll take as shorthand to mean those arms available in the 1780’s–which include various forms of rifle, cannon (which, yes, were privately owned), and so forth–don’t really mean it. Ask them, then, if they’re okay with anyone who wishes carrying a brace of pistols like these:
around Manhattan Island, or in Downtown Los Angeles? Or Washington DC? Would the law in any of the cities or states with the strictest gun control allow the carrying of pistols like that? Have any of the “reasonable gun control” (which always mean “more restrictions than we have now, for any given now) groups lobbied for those places which forbid the carrying of handguns without onerous and difficult to obtain permits, to allow people to carry these per the 2nd Amendment (which, they claim, does protect muskets)?
Spoiler: they haven’t.
No, these people making that argument know it’s false. And they don’t mean even that much. No, they only make that argument in the hope that it will convince you that they don’t need to follow the correct procedure to change the Constitution or any of its Amendments: the Amendment process. Because thy know they wouldn’t be able to get any such amendment passed: 2/3 of the House, and 2/3 of the Senate (or a convention called by 2/3 of the States) to officially propose an Amendment, and then 3/4 of the State Legislatures to ratify it.
If they can convince you that they don’t have to do that, then they can ban things to their heart’s content, requiring only a simple majority vote and Presidential signature for Federal law, or whatever each individual State or city requires to pass state and municipal laws.
Don’t be fooled. The Bill of Rights guarantees rights not technologies.