Historical Analogues: Text, History, and Tradition From a More Civilized Time

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As we’ve seen, when arguing about the text, history and tradition of gun control in America, a lot of the historical carry laws that existed in the 19th century restricted concealed carry, but allowed open carry.

As supporters of gun control struggle to justify the legality modern gun control laws under Bruen — including restrictions on concealed carry struggle to come up with historical analogues — the counterargument I’ve heard to this point is that while open carry wasn’t restricted, it was considered such a faux pas in urban areas that it was effectively banned by social custom if not law.

Maybe…though a lot of the people putting forward that argument seem to be projecting their own views onto 19th century society. Regardless,

I think it’s also quite possible that the conceal carry laws of the time were routinely violated by peaceable people back then just as they are now by many people. Or maybe the laws just weren’t enforced.

Look at the advertising from the era for small handguns, like these Colt ads from the early 20th century. They all seem to assume that carry was something lots of people — even “classy” people — did regularly. And some of these ads ran in mainstream publications.

It’s not like today where you only really see gun ads in gun-related or gun-adjacent publications. The Literary Digest, for example, was a huge publication in its day. So it seems reasonable that these and other highly concealable pistols were in regular, every day common use.


Konstadinos Moros is an Associate Attorney with Michel & Associates, a law firm in Long Beach that regularly represents the California Rifle & Pistol Association (CRPA) in its litigation efforts to restore the Second Amendment in California. You can find him on his Twitter handle @MorosKostas. To donate to CRPA or become a member, visit https://crpa.org/.

This post was adapted by TTAG from tweets posted by Konstadinos Moros.

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  1. There you have it. This is the way “decent” people defended themselves against “ruffians” or as we have always called them “society’s dregs”.

    There shouldn’t be any laws prohibiting ANYONE from defending themselves against such animals… PERIOD!

    • “permits” were usually an issue only in urban environments…out in the sticks people pretty much did as they pleased…I know my old man did….

  2. “the counterargument I’ve heard to this point is that while open carry wasn’t restricted, it was considered such a faux pas in urban areas that it was effectively banned by social custom if not law.

    Maybe…though a lot of the people putting forward that argument seem to be projecting their own views onto 19th century society.”

    The typical left wing falsehood they all believe, that causality=correlation.

    I’ve had that argument with them too, they are complete morons. And they always point to a few larger ‘urban’ places where it may have been taboo in a part of that society sector, they are convinced this is proof positive. Its not proof of anything. They don’t consider that the majority of ‘urban’ in the 19th century was not Chicago or New York sized cities, and in the majority of the country in the 19th century, around 85% – 90%, the ‘urban’ were places where open carry was acceptable its just that not that many did it as a matter of personal choice.

    Its like them saying ‘I didn’t see it rain therefore it did not rain’ when its raining outside and they didn’t look out the window.

    They are projecting their own views onto 19th century society.

    • …and American law, not English law. The gun controllers love to use firearms laws dictated by the King of England in the 18th century (which were more like the “may issue” laws in New York and New Jersey pre-Bruen – if you were in the King’s favored groups, you could be armed).

      It’s easy to beat back these laws by simply referencing the events April 19th, 1775 at Lexington & Concord.

    • Actually it does. Under Heller and Bruen, it is the late 18th Century (after passage of the Bill of Rights in 1791) up to the passage of the 14th amendment in 1868, well into the 19th Century..

      • Good point. I’d kind of forgotten about them referencing up to the 14th as well.

        The point I was trying to make, is that anything more recent, (say 20th century,) is pretty much out the window, much to the shagrin of people, (and I use that term loosely,) like Hochul, Schumer, Bloomburg, Soros, Newsome, Walz, etc.

  3. Firearms don’t make people any more or less civilized. A civilized society requires morals, ethics and a desire to live by those ideals. Along with the courage and desire to meet Evil head on, with a take no prisoners mentality. Because Evil is the ultimate enemy of a civilized society. Nothing more…Nothing less.

  4. In civilized Victorian and Edwardian society many laws were only intended to be enforced against “ruffians”, “undesirables” and “trouble-makers”. The “respectable classes” were not targeted by any of them.

        • Noted and thank you! I typically don’t encounter much of anything older than the 70-80’s so good to learn.

        • SAFE
          That reminds me..
          My grandmother used to carry around a Savage 99 ‘suitcase’ breakdown rifle in .22 Highpower. That was up in Alaska, in the mid 1910s. We wound up with it, and it had been stored somewhere that must have gotten water about 6″ up in the barrel for a while. Ruined that section of the bore. Did a bit of talking to a few gunsmiths, and we decided to send the barrel off to be bored and chambered to take the .25-35 as they fed just fine in the brass circular magazine, and no other modifications were needed.

          Still shoots pretty good today!

  5. “Text, History, and Tradition from a more Civilized Time.”

    A more civilized time? Absolutely. In 1910 women couldn’t vote and it would be another 55 years until the so-called “Civil Rights Act” was passed. You know, the act that superseded the Constitution and has yet to be repealed??

    If only.

    • Bigotry much there Johnny?

      You propose the same thing the left wing wants to do to the 2A and law abiding gun owners today – take rights away.

      Women should have the right to vote, just like any one else. There should have been a Civil Rights Act. Without these things, without that bolstering of the Constitutions promise of ‘We the people’ – there would be no constitutional rights today. You think our republic would have exist as free without that? Nope, it would mean a subjugation of a sector of society to government and another sector of society …. or in other words the very tyranny that by its structure and intent and purpose the Constitution was suppose to prevent. If a government can decide that one society sector is not worthy of the inalienable freedoms of the Constitution, you know, that thing the left wing is trying to do to law abiding gun owners today, then there is a tyranny.

      • The Republic took a turn towards bigger and bigger government since the 19th amendment was ratified. It was already turning that way when the disastrous 18th amendment was ratified but while woman’s suffrage and the teetotalitarian movements were inextricably linked it was not the women who voted it in -it was their whipped husbands and sons who were to blame.

        The issue is that a constitutional republic can not survive a universal franchise. It needs to be limited to productive members of society. I’ve always been intrigued by the system put forth in Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers” where only veterans were allowed the franchise -and only AFTER they have retired from service. The reasoning behind this system is well laid out in the book so I won’t go into that here but I think the failures of our current system of universal franchise is self-evident just observing the mess it has gotten us into at this point.

        The system is broken -it is crashing and likely will not survive even in the limited capacity we are operating at today. We can blame the women but in the end it is Weak Men who inevitably bring on hard times such as we are facing. Bread & Circus is the result and the punishment all rolled up into one.

        • There was much discussion during the various Constitutional Conventions about whether only land-owners should be able to vote. The argument went if you didn’t have “skin in the game” (ala property), then your vote could be easily bought.
          Sums up ballot harvesting, etc….
          Personally, I think the biggest turn was the explosive expansion of the Commerce Clause.

  6. “Or maybe the laws just weren’t enforced.”
    or maybe they were only enforced selectively as per demographic or other data point.

    • That was certainly the case with the San Francisco concealed carry ordinance, which was intended to disarm Blacks, Mexicans and Chinese, but which was rarely enforced against whites.

  7. In reality gun control in Europe was lax as well during the early 1900’s. Terrorists from Serbia had no trouble buying 4 FN 1910 .380 Auto pistols to gun down the Archduke of Austria who actually was the best friend the Morons had at the time.

    The difference between the Europeans and the savage blood soaked land of Capitalvia is that the Europeans passed tough gun control that vetted all gun purchases, outlawed concealed carry in most states, and required safe storage laws which resulted in a civilized society compared to the the rivers of blood and carnage that flow now every day in Capitalvania where life is considered cheap and expendable.

    There were roughly 76 Million people in the U.S. in 1900 and today there is 330 million plus. What is even more troubling is that studies have shown that when the population increases the rate of mental illness’ always far exceeds the percentage of population growth.

    Trying to compare yesterday of the early 1900’s to today’s societal problems , especially with the almost complete breakdown of family life, is a fool’s errand.


    • You’re living proof that mental illness is rampaging out of control. You keep showing up here to push your debunked anti gun garbage knowing full well that your comments will help sell more guns.

      How mental is that.

    • Europe has a rich history with rivers of blood and carnage that flow throughout its East and West. Most if which has been at the direction of the “civilized society” which has governed it.

      Try harder.

      • to Rick

        You flunked European History Classes. You speak of wars between states not the dramatic fall of domestic homicide and mass murder by nut cases.

        • to dacian,

          And you flunked Critical Thinking classes.

          Any wild guesses whether or not those European states still would have decided to invade their neighbors if their neighbors were armed to the teeth? Answer: look no further than Switzerland.

        • To No Common Sense

          Obviously you flunked WWII History Classes. Hitler did not invade Switzerland because it was mountainous and not suitable for Blitzkrieg and tank warfare. It had zero to do with the private citizen owning firearms. Hitler knew that mountain fighting would result in too high a losses of German Soldiers to make it worth conquering the country and he was not sure he could conquer it.

          I might also add that the French citizens own thousands of private weapons and it did not stop Hitler from steam rolling over them in weeks. So much for your fantasies about private citizens defeating well equipped and highly trained armies. Stay out of conversations about Europe you are out of your league.

    • dunderhaid.
      Compare the early 1900 (or late 1800s’) to life in the 1950s and early 1960s then get back to us…

      Hint: Pay attention to what Yuri has to say..

      • To Stuck in remedial reading classes.

        Your link had zero to do with the dramatic fall in homicide and mass murder rates due to the tough gun control laws in Europe.

        And by the way if you think the U.S. does not brainwash their people like the Russians do then you are not a product of higher education. The brainwashing the average American got in the early stages of the Vietnam war was a classic example of U.S. propaganda at its finest.

        And here is one for you. During the great recession in the 1980’s the Russians took a homeless American off the streets in the U.S. and had him tell the Russian people what happens to an American when he loses his job because he can very well end up losing everything and end up on the street because unlike Russia everyone is not given an apartment to live in or a guaranteed job or the other plethora of social programs Russians are guaranteed including enough to eat.

        I am sure T Tag will trash this post so you will never get a chance to see it.

        • Dunderhaid.
          Oh I see it all right.

          It’s just more of your drivel.

          Move to Russia and find out for yourself.

          We have several friends who are Russian, and still have relatives back there.

          You might want to have a word with them to find out what it is ACTUALLY like ‘back in the USSR’…

          “The brainwashing the average American got in the early stages of the Vietnam war was a classic example of U.S. propaganda at its finest.”
          The brainwashing was coming from the leftist media, you moron.

          Again, we have a Viet friend who got out of ‘Nam with just the clothes on her back. She still goes home occasionally, now that she’s an American citizen and can do so without winding up dead.

          I think talking to her for at least a week should be a REQUIREMENT for all the ‘skulls full of mush’ (like you,) before graduating from High School.

        • to Stuck

          Vietnam is now one of the most prosperous countries in S.E. Asia proving that the doom and gloom of U.S. prophesies about what would happen if Uncle Ho won was all just U.S. propaganda.

          Anthony Bourdain before he passed away even had a private residence there and ate lunch there with President Obama when he visited the country.

          I might ad that Vietnam and the U.S. are now allies and are together aligned against Chinese Expansion in the region, something the U.S. should have done decades ago rather than the U.S. starting a disastrous war with Vietnam.

  8. What was more civilized about that time was that no one batted an eye when a ruffian was shot, or beaten about the head and ears with a gentleman’s cane.

  9. We have a .32 Colt pistol like that one in the family. My great-grandfather had an auto parts business in El Paso and sold the Mexican military a lot of parts for their trucks. One time, an officer came in begging for a part that he couldn’t find anywhere else in town. He knew they’d eventually need it, and had several in stock. The officer was so impressed that he gave him the pistol as a gift.

    Imagine the uproar if a Mexican Army officer crossed the border with a concealed weapon in 2023?

    In some ways, society has greatly improved since those days, but in this particular way, it’s gone to hell.

    • Jennifer. When I was 13 I bought two rifles at separate yard sales. One was a .22 and one a 1903 Springfield. Rode them home on my bike.

      The guy that sold me the 1903 told me that if my dad was not happy with the sale that he would take it back. He did not have to.

      America was a different country then. Some things were bad. But some things are bad today and the country has lost its way to boot.

      • people seemed better then…more responsible, more civilized…crime…particularly violent crime….was pretty rare….

    • “Imagine the uproar if a Mexican Army officer crossed the border with a concealed weapon in 2023?”

      Seems to me they’ve been doing it for quite a while, just in their off-duty civvies (i.e., cartel dress), and half the population is only now seeming to notice.

  10. Reading this historical take on gun control feels like stepping into a time machine – apparently, in the 19th century, open carry was the original fashion statement! 🕰️💼 However, I can’t help but wonder if our ancestors were just rebellious trendsetters, casually violating conceal carry laws like it was a style choice. And those Colt ads? Talk about marketing to the ‘classy’ concealed carriers of yesteryear. Who knew the Wild West had a dress code?


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