Thursday, October 01, 2015

Some American gun history

Slavery, the Second Amendment, and the Origins of Public-Carry Jurisprudence - The Atlantic

From the article:

As early as 1840, antebellum historian Richard Hildreth observed that
violence was frequently employed in the South both to subordinate slaves
and to intimidate abolitionists. In the South, violence also was an
approved way to avenge perceived insults to manhood and personal status.
According to Hildreth, duels “appear but once an age” in the North, but
“are of frequent and almost daily occurrence at the [S]outh.” Southern
men thus carried weapons both “as a protection against the slaves” and
also to be prepared for “quarrels between freemen.” Two of the most
feared public-carry weapons in pre-Civil War America, the “Arkansas
toothpick” and “Bowie knife,” were forged from this Southern heritage.

The slave South’s enthusiasm for public carry influenced its legal
culture. During the antebellum years, many viewed carrying a concealed
weapon as dastardly and dishonorable—a striking contrast with the values
of the modern gun-rights movement. In an 1850 opinion, the Louisiana
Supreme Court explained that carrying a concealed weapon gave men
“secret advantages” and led to “unmanly assassinations,” while open
carry “place[d] men upon an equality” and “incite[d] men to a manly and
noble defence of themselves.” Some Southern legislatures, accordingly,
passed laws permitting open carry but punishing concealment.  ...

In the North, publicly carrying concealable weapons was much less
popular than in the South. In 1845, New York jurist William Jay
contrasted “those portions of our country where it is supposed essential
to personal safety to go armed with pistols and bowie-knives” with the
“north and east, where we are unprovided with such facilities for taking
life.” Indeed, public-carry restrictions were embraced across the
region. In 1836, the respected Massachusetts jurist Peter Oxenbridge
Thacher instructed a jury that in Massachusetts “no person may go armed
with a dirk, dagger, sword, pistol, or other offensive and dangerous
weapon, without reasonable cause to apprehend an assault or violence to
his person, family, or property.” Judge Thacher’s charge was celebrated
in the contemporary press as “sensible,” “practical,” and “sage.”
Massachusetts was not unusual in broadly restricting public carry.
Wisconsin, Maine, Michigan, Virginia, Minnesota, Oregon, and
Pennsylvania passed laws modeled on the public-carry restriction in

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