By awa

3 thoughts on “Were There Limitations on Arms Ownership in Early America”
  1. Were there limitations on arms ownership in early America?

    Prior to independence being won, yes there were indeed limitations on arms ownership. If the King’s minions decided that either an individual or the colonial militia posed a threat to the crowns control, then the arms would be seized by force and the owner arrested. In April of 1775 the British army occupying Boston marched to Concord to Seize the Concord Militia’s stores of arms and powder. Didn’t quite work out as planned.

    After Independence was won, and enshrined in the Constitution, effectively no limitations on arms ownership was made at the federal level until the NFA of 1934.

    1. At the state level it’s an entirely different question. I think some states had prohibitions on concealed carry but no issue with open carry. There were other restrictions as well; Halbrook discusses this. I don’t remember any details, but I do remember he cites a Texas supreme court decision from before the Civil War (so before the 14th Amendment) which held some Texas gun restriction to be unconstitutional under the 2nd Amendment. That was interesting because it means the state court recognized the wording of the 2nd Amendment (quite unlike that of the 1st) applies to all levels of government, not just to the Federal government. It’s unfortunate this isn’t more widely understood, i.e., the 14th Amendment wasn’t necessary to make that be true though of course it helps to have it stated a second time.

      1. State laws are a lot more complicated. In the post reconstruction, Jim Crow South, Blacks (and often known Republicans) were prohibited from owing or carrying firearms. Wouldn’t want to interfere with a visit by the Klan would we. New York’s infamous “Sullivan” law was designed to be used against opponents of Tammany Hall. Seeing a pattern here? Democrats disarming those who may object to their corruption and intimidation. The more things change the more they stay the same.

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