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Even the New England colonies had 'gun laws'

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Recently, Texas has been at the forefront of relaxing restrictions on guns. It’s joining the ranks of “open-carry” states and more controversially, will soon (in August) be one of only eight states that allow concealed carry weapons on public college campuses. However, seven states have written into their laws exceptions limiting certain areas on campus from their carry laws. Only Utah has a statute specifically naming public colleges and universities as public entities that do not have the authority to ban concealed carry, and thus, all 10 public institutions in Utah allow concealed weapons on their property.

 

Of course, that’s down south and out west where gun-totin’ is much more common.

 

Up here in the Northeast where I reside, plenty of New Englanders believe no one should own a gun.

 

Thankfully, my state of New Hampshire isn’t completely gone and hasn’t begun adopting restrictive gun laws like its neighbors, particularly Massachusetts and Connecticut. There are still many in this state who appreciate the right to “keep and bear Arms.”

 

Speaking of which, if you would like to learn the originalist views of the right to “keep and bear Arms,” you may read about it here.

 

Many conservatives believe that states never had gun laws until the progressives took over. But New England states have always had laws concerning guns, going all the way back to the colonial era, even back to the 1600s.

 

Today, the mention of the words “gun law” is synonymous with gun restriction. After all, no state would ever pass a law encouraging the “keeping” and “bearing” of Arms, would they?

 

Well, maybe a state wouldn’t, but things were a lot different back then. Those who lived in the original New England colonies thought differently about guns and the responsibility of their citizens. Liberal Massachusetts is a perfect example of the pendulum wildly swinging from one extreme to the other.

 

The Massachusetts Bay colony “required” that every able-bodied man (adult male) own a weapon. In 1632 a Plymouth colony statute ordered that “every free man or other inhabitant of this colony provide for himself … a sufficient musket … 2 pounds of powder and 10 pounds of bullets with a fine of 10 shillings per person who was not armed.”

 

Just imagine a Massachusetts state legislator suggesting such a thing today. He would be run out of the state.

 

The 1632 statute added specifics to a 1630 order requiring that every town in the colony make sure that every person, servants included, be “furnished with good and sufficient Armes.” The residents had to reimburse the towns “when they shall be able.” In other words, the town would provide you with a firearm and you would pay the town back, “when they shall be able.”

 

Today we are told by our government that we must buy Obamacare. Back then it was a gun. Apparently, they didn’t have much fear that “more guns = more violence.” On the contrary – they held the correct belief that more guns equaled less potential for violence.

 

But, you may say, we conservatives are always arguing against the government forcing us to do things, that the forced purchase of health care, or anything for that matter, is unconstitutional. Well, you’d be correct, except there was no United States or Constitution in 1630.

 

By 1636 people in the colonies were also required to bring their guns to church … those Bible thumpin’, gun totin’ radicals. By the time of the Revolution, preachers (the Black Robed Regiment) were even conducting drills with the armed parishioners after services concluded.

 

By 1650 any Connecticut resident above the age of 16 was required to be armed. But what if one couldn’t afford it? Surely, like Obamacare, there must’ve been a “gun subsidy” program for the poor.

 

Well, yes and no. If you didn’t have the money, you were to bring “corn or other salable items” that the issuing militia clerk could then sell to pay for your weapon – or you could work it off. There’s your subsidy for you. Try doing that today for those who receive Obamaphones.

 

Still, during the colonial period, authorities wished to know who was armed. In Rhode Island, the militia would go door to door not to confiscate weapons but to make sure every household had enough gun powder and bullets.

 

Could you imagine a knock on the door? You open it and the gentleman says that he’s from the sheriff’s office and is just checking to see you are properly armed and have enough ammo.

 

How I long for the good old days – except for the whole Indian attack thing, cold and starvation, lack of indoor plumbing and such.

 

(Attribution: Clayton Cramer

 

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