BY FRANK WOOTEN
The Second Amendment assures Americans’ right “to keep and bear arms.”
But which arms?
When this Bill of Rights guarantee was loaded into the national consciousness in the late 18th century, arms were muzzle-loaded muskets and flintlock pistols.
When early 21st century Americans wage ideological gunfights over which arms we can keep and bear, the field of fire ranges much higher on the advanced-technology — and bloody-devastation — scale.
That’s because throughout our species’ belligerent history, we have relentlessly created new destructive devices to impose our will upon each other.
Some AR-15 enthusiasts insist that our Founding Fathers mandated personal-possession gun rights so we could defend ourselves against not just common criminals but government tyrants.
So if that’s the constitutional case, shouldn’t we be able to bear not just assault weapons but weaponized drones?
After all, if King George III’s legions had been packing M240s and cruise missiles, the American revolutionaries would have been decisively outgunned.
Yet beyond today’s debate over which arms we can keep and bear lie tomorrow’s wunderwaffen (German for wonder weapons).
And while few of these arms actually exist (yet), it’s just a matter of time before at least some of them warp from the realm of imagination into our allegedly real — and really dangerous — world:
■ Eye Beam: From Gort in 1951’s “The Day the Earth Stood Still” to Cyclops in “The X-Men,” this remains a, well, visionary innovation.
■ Blaster: Featured in 1956’s “Forbidden Planet,” a classic forerunner of many space-age rayguns to come.
■ Phaser: Standard sidearm for “Star Trek” crew members. Usually set on “stun,” though when needed set on “kill.”
■ Hammer: No, not the kind with which your drive nails and hit your thumb. The Mighty Avenger lightning kind that Thor grabs to pound malefactors into deserved oblivion.
■ Shield: Deflects incoming shots. Rightly championed by Ronald “Raygun” Reagan in missile-defense push that helped bankrupt Soviet “Evil Empire” Union.
■ Batarang: Indispensable non-fatal option on Batman’s utility belt.
■ Gas Gun: Non-lethal weapon used by Green Hornet to put targets to sleep. The Penguin frequently employed a variation of this device — an umbrella gun that emitted knockout vapors of varying hues.
■ Ten Rings of Power: One for each hand digit. Wielded to vile effect by The Mandarin in “Iron Man 3,” which opens on May 3, they include the Ice Blast, Flame Blast, Electro-Blast, Matter Re-arranger and Disintegration Beam. But the most ominous of these ring-a-dingers is the Mento-Intensifier, which gives the bearer mental control of the victim.
OK, so even 100-round-magazine fans should know that Americans don’t have a right to keep and bear (and wear) a Disintegration Beam ring.
But while pondering which arms we have a right to keep and bear, behold my inspiring idea for a weapon of sorts that could keep the peace — and quiet — without causing physical harm:
Your television remote control has a “mute” button.
Why can’t somebody invent a similar device — a Mute Beam — that works not on TVs but on people?
We all are routinely subjected to the inane, unsolicited jabberings of friends, strangers, enemies, co-workers, family members, politicians and other verbose variants of their loquacious ilk.
Imagine a small gadget that can spare you that ordeal. Simply point it toward such talkative tormentors and press a mute button to render them silent to your ears — even as they wrongly assume you’re still hearing every irrelevant word of their incessant prattle.
An occasional nod of the head, “uh-huh” or “sure” should suffice to delude most of those gabbing menaces into mistakenly assuming that you are still listening.
Of course, the smaller this merciful gizmo, the better your chances of concealing its timely implementation.
And the sooner the Mute Beam is available, the sooner we can exercise this right that those Founding Fathers left out:
Our freedom from speech.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.