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Going Armed with Dangerous and Unusual Weapons to the Terror of the People
How the Common Law Distinguished the Peaceable Keeping and Bearing of Arms



Much ink has been spilt in recent times over what restrictions on firearm ownership by law-abiding citizens are permissible under the Second Amendment. Since it is litigation-driven, the debate evokes superficial references to the common law at the Founding and in the early Republic. Some states recognized going armed with dangerous and unusual weapons to the terror of the people as a common-law offense or made it a statutory crime. Some also required persons who went armed and made threats to others to get sureties to keep the peace. The peaceable carrying of arms was not an offense in any state, other than to the extent some states restricted the carrying of concealed weapons. The right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment and some state constitutions was sharply distinguished from going armed and making threats to others.

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Stephen P. Halbrook, Ph.D., J.D., is a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the books, Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State”, The Founders' Second Amendment and Securing Civil Rights, the latter two of which were cited in the the U.S. Supreme Court cases of District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago as well as his earlier Amici Curiae Brief in Heller on behalf of 55 members of the Senate, the Senate President, and 250 members of the House of Representatives. Dr. Halbrook is also the author of the book, That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right (Independent Institute).


New from Stephen P. Halbrook!
GUN CONTROL IN THE THIRD REICH: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State”
Presents the definitive history of how the Nazi regime used gun control to disarm and repress its enemies and consolidate power. Previous books on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust fail even to mention the laws restricting firearms ownership, which rendered Jews, political opponents, and other disfavored groups defenseless.







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