Gun-control advocates often argue that gun-control laws must be more restrictive than the original meaning of the Second Amendment would allow, because modern firearms are so different from the firearms of the late 18th century. This argument is based on ignorance of the history of firearms. It is true that in 1791 the most common firearms were handguns or long guns that had to be reloaded after every shot. But it is not true that repeating arms, which can fire multiple times without reloading, were unimagined in 1791. To the contrary, repeating arms long predate the 1606 founding of the first English colony in America. As of 1791, repeating arms were available but expensive.
(David Kopel, H/T Bearing Arms)
Actually ... while quite interesting, I'm not certain that the entire explanation is absolutely necessary.
However, it's also interesting to see the timeline of draconian regulation of firearms ownership, manufacture and transfer during recent years:
Gun Control has been entirely political since 1968
The Second Amendment has been accepted as (relatively) sacrosanct until the at least the Post-Eisenhower years, when creeping socialism became "popular" in America, and social activists began revising the image of America.
[see some sources at the bottom of this page]
In 1968, during the Johnson Administration, the Gun Control Act of 1968 imposed stringent controls on firearms. (Became the National Firearms Act)
Passage of the Gun Control Act was initially prompted by the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1963. The President was shot and killed with a rifle purchased by mail-order from an ad in National Rifle Association (NRA) magazine American Rifleman. Congressional hearings followed and a ban on mail-order gun sales was discussed, but no law was passed until 1968. At the hearings NRA Executive Vice-President Franklin Orth supported a ban on mail-order sales, stating, "We do not think that any sane American, who calls himself an American, can object to placing into this bill the instrument which killed the president of the United States.While Johnson was a Democratic President, you will note that the NRA supported the new bans.
(This was only the first reason why I have since been reluctant to support the NRA, although I am currently a member; but the year is not over yet.)
The passing of the bill was encouraged by the assassinations of Presidential Candidate Bobby Kennedy and Afro-American Activist Martin Luther King, Jr.,in the same year.
In 1972, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was created. This expanded the role of the Treasury Department, which was often referred to as the "Revenoors" during Prohibition. Their new duty was enforcement of the National Firearms Act.
In 1986, we saw the laws against "Cop Killer Bullets" and, conversely, the Firearms Owners Protection Act (this last also imposed additional penalties on certain crimes committed with guns. and some restrictions on illegal importation of guns).
In 1990, the Crime Control Act (under president GW Bush) imposed penalties on felonies in school zones, and also unregulated construction of automatic firearms.
In 1994: The Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act ... Background Checks/Waiting Period, and NICS.
In 2013, President Obama proposed "sweeping" gun control measures ... most of which were already in effect ... and the rest ineffectual. Also Colorado voters recalled several pro-Gun-Control state senators who were just pissing them off!