Contributed by Scud Langley
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Though the debate about gun rights in the United States seems to be a recent phenomenon, new evidence has shown that there has been disagreement about the 2nd amendment from the very beginning. Though many of the founders often wrote in supportive terms of the right of the people to keep and bear arms, a recent discovery in Wayne, Pennsylvania, which is just outside of Philadelphia, has given new insight into the debate that was waged even when the Bill of Rights was first being considered.
Local man Jim Hollaway was digging through his shed and found an old box that contained pieces of several letters written in fine script that were close to crumbling. Not sure what they were, he took them to an antique shop to have them evaluated and discovered that they were dated to around 1782-1783 and were contributed to a man named Anson Tremble. Though the letters were not fully intact, it was clear through several sections that Mr. Tremble was no fan of the proposed 2nd amendment and was quite forceful in his desire to see it eliminated. An intended recipient could not be found as the letters were somewhat ragged, but an excerpt from one of the partial sections reads:
“… and though it may be incumbent upon me to voice my displeasure of the proposal, I shall not but present several unquestionable points that should be taken into consideration before ratification is to be presented, and furthermore, I shall not be silen[ced] in this endeavour. That any man would or should need such an arm as the British Land Pattern [Mus]ket (what we now know as “Brown Bess”) is beyond reasonabal [sic] and should not be taken in a serious manner, as this device… [and] is no more than a killing [machine] designed for the sole purpose of taking away the life of man. The .75 caliber ball which fires forth from the muzzle is a horrendous piece of artill[ery] and is capable of more than incapacitating anything in its path. This is not the weapon of an husbandman intent on defending his flock… It is true that I have taken up the arm and have fired it upon an open field and I shall say without any shame to my honour that [the] explosion that proceeded forth was deafening, the spark and flash that shot out from the contact of the flint to the frizzen was disorienting and unsettling, and the pain and numbness caused to my shoulder from the stock slamming backwards after the discharge has yet to begin healing. The bellowing smoke that lingered from that awful black power was caught up in my lungs after the shot and I dare say that I may never brea[th] the same again… No, this is no hunting weapon and should not be [con]sidered…”
Though it has been difficult to nail down just how much influence Mr. Tremble held in the debate and who his intellectual peers were, a single reference to a “Mr. Anson” as a “gormless nancy-boy” was found amongst the journal entries of Josiah Bartlett, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, but it is unclear if this is a direct reference to Anson Tremble. Nevertheless, this finding has managed to shed a little more light on the debate that has seemingly raged on since the dawning of the Bill of Rights.