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However, in America "the requirements for self-defense and food-gathering had put firearms in the hands of nearly everyone." The feeling was that "[I]f the government be equitable; if it be reasonable in its exactions; if proper attention be paid to the education of children in knowledge, and religion, few men will be disposed to use arms, unless for their amusement, and for the defence of themselves and their country." The necessity of self-defense against criminal attacks was also a reason for keeping and bearing arms.As early as 1697 there were complaints that Philadelphia was becoming invested with "pirates and rogues," and in that year, William Penn felt strongly enough to write that "there is no place more overrun with wickedness than Philadelphia." The following excerpt from a letter written from Falmouth, Virginia, on July 29, 1764, by William Allason, a merchant, to Messrs.The French and Indian War introduced the English to an unaccustomed kind of warfare.The French and their Indian guerrillas did not restrict their full-scale war to pitched battles, but also utilized the ambush and hit-and-run techniques, which have become the hallmark of modern guerrilla warfare.Boyle and Scott, merchants in Glasgow, is instructive on the defensive pistol-carrying habits of civilians. As it is sometimes dangerous in traveling through our wooden Country Particularly at this time when the Planters are pressed for old Ballances, we find it necessary to carry with us some defensive Weapons, for that purpose, you'll be pleased to send us by some of the first Ships for this River a pair of Pistols about 30/ [shillings] Price.Let them be small, for the convenience of carrying in a side Pockett, and as neat as the Price will admit of.The earliest Virginia settlers were often in terror that the Spanish massacre of the Huguenots at Fort Caroline in Florida might be repeated in their own province. All colonists were soldiers in such warfare because all lived on the battlefield.
The French and Indian War taught the futility of European battle lines in the wilderness, and the colonists took a new and confident view of their ability to defend themselves.Men were required to perform militia and posse duty. The colonies continued and expanded upon this common law institution, and their belief in it profoundly influenced the development of the American system of government. Our Constitution should thus be interpreted by reference to the common law and to English institutions that shaped its adoption. The nation that was to rebel was but a string of separate colonies, separately governed, and each concerned with different economies, some with fishing or tobacco and others with farming or the fur trade. Their link was their common allegiance to the Crown and their inheritance of the English common law.They also shared the unique experience of living on a new continent.A strict interpretivist approach can cut both ways. On the one hand, the right to arms is preserved as it existed in the eighteenth century by limiting the right to those arms commonly possessed by the people at that time and to their modern equivalents.On the other hand, limiting the right to arms to that dimension, modern arms falling outside that dimension would lie outside the right to arms. This article will demonstrate that the Framers intended that the second amendment guarantee to the individual the right to keep and bear arms for the following purposes: (1) to enable the individual to perform militia duties; (2) to deter governmental oppression; (3) to maintain public order; and (4) to enable the individual to exercise his right to self-defense.