Stoodley's Tavern, Portsmouth NH, as it appears today. Here, on 13 December 1774, after a miserable day's ride of 65 miles through a snowstorm, is where Paul Revere delivered the news of British troop movements which led to the seizure by local patriots of the powder and arms at Fort William and Mary.
Politico promises us that: "Obama set to unveil curbs on gun sellers: Executive actions expected next week will be part of the president's new year push to make progress on long-stalled problems before the 2016 presidential election heats up."
In addition, we are told -- "Coming Soon: Legislation To Heavily Regulate Ammunition In New York."
Charles C.W. Cooke writes: "Of all the ill-considered tropes that are trotted out in anger during our ongoing debate over gun control, perhaps the most irritating is the claim that the Constitution may indeed protect firearms, but it says “nothing at all about bullets.”
". . . To propose that a government could restrict access to ammunition without gutting the Second Amendment is akin to proposing that a government could ban churches without hollowing out the First. If a free people are to enjoy their liberties without encumbrance, the prerequisite tools must be let well alone."
All of these maneuvers are a reminder that we have been here before. In "Encroachments of the Crown on the Liberty of the Subject: Pre-Revolutionary Origins of the Second Amendment" by Stephen Halbrook in 1989, is this transcript of King George the Third's diktat that sparked our fight for independence:As reprinted in the Conn. Courant, Dec. 19, 1774, at 3, cols. 2-3:
At the Court at St. James's the 19th Day of October, 1774.
The KING'S most excellent MAJESTY in Council,
Earl of Rockford, Lord Viscount Townshend,
Earl of Dartmouth, Lord Mansfield,
Earl of Suffolk, Lord North.WHEREAS an Act of Parliament has passed in the Twenty Ninth Year of the Reign of his late Majesty King George the Second, intitled, "An Act to empower his Majesty to prohibit the Exportation of Saltpetre, and to enforce the Law for impowering his Majesty to prohibit the Exportation of Gunpowder, or any sort of Arms or Ammunition, and also to empower his Majesty to restrain the carrying coastways of Saltpetre, Gunpowder, or any sort of Ammunition."And His Majesty judging it necessary to prohibit the Exportation of Gunpowder, or any sort of Arms or Ammunition, out of this Kingdom, doth therefore, with the advice of his Privy Council, hereby order, require, prohibit and command that no Person or Persons Whatsoever (except the Master General of the Ordnance for his Majesty's Service) do, at any time during the space of Six Months from the date of this Order in Council, presume to transport into any parts out of this Kingdom, or carry coastways any Gunpowder, or any sort of Arms or Ammunition, on board any Ship or Vessel, in order to transporting the same to any part beyond the Seas or carrying the same coastways, without Leave and Permission in that behalf, first obtained from his Majesty or his Privy Council, upon Pain of incurring and suffering the respective Forfeitures and Penalties inflicted by the afore mentioned Act....Signed, G. Chetwynd.
The decree was published in 5 Acts Privy Council, 401, and was renewed from time to time until 1783.
This action, reinforcing an earlier British raid to seize colonial gunpowder from the Powder House in Somerville, MA, on 1 September 1774, led to the colonists' response in what became known as The Powder Alarm. The Crown had surprised the colonists by beating them to the powder. It would not happen again.
In the current issue (January/February 2016) of Muzzleloader magazine, is a description of the next moves in a cold war that would end at Lexington and Concord on 19 April 1775.
The next day, 14 December, after failing to trick the small garrison into surrendering the powder, the patriots in New Hampshire under arms marched to the Fort and seized 100 barrels of the precious "Unum Necessarium" as Sam Adams called it -- "the one thing needful." And the day after that, says Wikipedia:On October 19, an Order in Council confidentially issued by King George prohibited the export of 'powder, arms, and warlike stores' into North America. The secret order also called for the immediate securing of all arms and munitions that were stored in the colonies. Within this one order, the British Crown would not only stop arming the colonists, but it would also begin to secure the arms and ammunition that were already in the colonies.It did not take long for news of the order to reach the ears of the many patriot spies that prowled the gutters, back alleys and countryside of New England. Central in this interception of this order was the prolific patriot and insurrectionist Paul Revere. This intelligence came into his hands in early December, about the same time that British Admiral Graves was seen in Boston preparing four warships . . . to depart, loaded with troops, for a yet unknown destination and mission. While none of the ships were heading directly to Portsmouth (NH) to secure the powder (at Fort William and Mary), the news of their movement created nervousness and anxiety. Quickly, Revere and his agents went into action . . . With the stores of powder and arms at Fort William and Mary being so sizable, the people of Massachusetts and New Hampshire naturally assumed that this would be one of the first targets of the departing vessels.Paul Revere took it upon himself to warn his brethren in Portsmouth, NH. The winter in New England was already off to s miserable start since before Thanksgiving, the roads and trails were thick with snow and ice. On the morning of December 13, despite a snowstorm blowing, Paul Revere saddled his horse and began the 65 mile ride to Portsmouth . . . On a day when most stayed indoors, warm with drink in hand by the fire, Revere slogged north to deliver the news of the assumed impending seizure . . .Late in the day of December 13, Revere arrived in Portsmouth. . . Before he took time to care for himself and his horse he set out to find Samuel Cutts, a high-ranking leader n the Portsmouth resistance to the Crown . . . Following a 15 minute meeting in Stoodley's Tavern, Revere then departed, anxious to begin his trip home. -- "A Most Unhappy Affair: The Portsmouth Powder Alarm of1774, Part One" by Vincent C. Spiotti, Muzzleloader, January/February 2016, pp. 37 - 44.
The next day, additional rebel forces arrived in Portsmouth from across the colony, as well as from Maine. Led by John Sullivan, the rebels returned to the fort late on the night of December 15, overran the post without gunfire and removed muskets, military supplies and 16 cannon marked as the property of the King. British authorities declared the raids - for which Sullivan later received a stipend from the Continental Congress - high treason.
Of course that was then, and this is now. Exactly who today should be charged with high treason for their actions in attempting to disarm the American citizenry is open to debate at the muzzles of our loaded rifles. And we, today, are far better armed and supplied with ammunition than the Founding Fathers ever dreamed. The only question is, do we have the guts and determination to use those instruments to defend our liberty, our property and our lives as they did?