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Old 10-10-2017, 10:40 AM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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1) Legal weapons in US states ca. 1790? 2) Which arms were possessed by the Army but not citizens?

See queries.

Re query 1:

Admittedly, jurisprudence after Sept. 25, 1789 was not advanced in dealing with these Federal issues, but by then even the states and their respective militias would have a long legal case-law archive. What was the _legal_ landscape at the time?

Re query 2:

For the sake of argument I leave out the occurrence of a citizen owning ships of the line. In general, though, which armaments, due to their cost or complexity/maintenance, would be almost inconceivable for a single citizen (or family) to own, but part of the inventory of the Army?

E.g., did anyone have a cannon in their barn, and not be generally recognized as a lunatic? Assuming it was legal, per query 1).

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 10-10-2017 at 10:42 AM.
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Old 10-10-2017, 10:51 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
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This wasn't really an issue in the Colonial period. Common defense against Indians and other hostile elements was more important than anything else (at least with regard to guns). Colonial law generally required males to own a musket (some limited this to white males).

The 1689 Bill of Rights made it nominally legal for Protestants to keep guns in England, but in actual practice this right was illusory. So what sort of guns were permitted wasn't really an issue there either.
  #3  
Old 10-10-2017, 11:00 AM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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OP cx: Query 1, perhaps should be said "which weapons--or class of weapons, if that was even a working concept--were illegal...."
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Old 10-10-2017, 11:09 AM
XT XT is offline
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Quote:
For the sake of argument I leave out the occurrence of a citizen owning ships of the line. In general, though, which armaments, due to their cost or complexity/maintenance, would be almost inconceivable for a single citizen (or family) to own, but part of the inventory of the Army?
Well, you answered your own OP then discounted the question so not sure how this is going to play out. As you acknowledged, private citizens owned armed ships both before, during and after the Revolutionary War, and those indeed had various types of cannon on board. I don't think there was anything in the Continental Army inventory that you couldn't own as a private citizen. Things like rocket artillery were probably beyond most people...that's the only thing I can think of that might have been beyond what a private citizen in the US could own or, at least I've never heard of one in private hands.

Quote:
E.g., did anyone have a cannon in their barn, and not be generally recognized as a lunatic? Assuming it was legal, per query 1).
Why would they be? To answer the question, sure, some people had a cannon. I don't believe that by simply owning a cannon you would be considered a lunatic either before, during or after the RW. Why would they be?
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Old 10-10-2017, 11:18 AM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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Originally Posted by XT View Post
Well, you answered your own OP then discounted the question so not sure how this is going to play out. As you acknowledged, private citizens owned armed ships both before, during and after the Revolutionary War, and those indeed had various types of cannon on board. I don't think there was anything in the Continental Army inventory that you couldn't own as a private citizen. Things like rocket artillery were probably beyond most people...that's the only thing I can think of that might have been beyond what a private citizen in the US could own or, at least I've never heard of one in private hands.



Why would they be? To answer the question, sure, some people had a cannon. I don't believe that by simply owning a cannon you would be considered a lunatic either before, during or after the RW. Why would they be?
Well, you read the queries perfectly and answered them to a T, including the last e.g., which I left in OP with some trepidation...and it serves me right, when a questioner the indeterminate whether he is posing a rhetorical question or not.

It also poses a risk _at the moment_ to the intrinsic value of this GQ thread. So let's kill the "what other people think" to the simple "if an individual or family had such an armament how rare was it."

Last edited by Leo Bloom; 10-10-2017 at 11:19 AM.
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Old 10-10-2017, 11:19 AM
Derleth Derleth is online now
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A previous thread of mine which touches on similar issues: When did military weapons start to become orders of magnitude better than civilian weapons?
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Old 10-10-2017, 11:26 AM
XT XT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo Bloom View Post
Well, you read the queries perfectly and answered them to a T, including the last e.g. I left in OP with some trepidation...and it serves me right, when a questioner the indeterminate whether he is posing a rhetorical question or not.

It also poses a risk _at the moment_ to the intrinsic value of this GQ thread. So let's kill the "what other people think" to the simple "if an individual or family had such an armament how rare was it."
I would say that having something like a cannon in the time period you specified was fairly rare as a percentage of the population. Most of the cannon in the early period had been either captured from the Brits during the war or manufactured locally, which was pretty rare as well. If one was a ship's captain then you'd have access to a cannon. If you were a wealthy landowner you could have a cannon, but why would you want one unless you just wanted on or had captured one yourself and wanted it as a prize. The average farmer I doubt would have and any use for something like that, but then farmers tend to collect junk too, so it probably happened from time to time that some guy had a captured cannon in his barn just because. I doubt you can get a really precise answer to this with cites, as I doubt anyone cared enough to go out and take an arms census to see what all was out there. My WAG is, basically, anything the British Army had access to (with some very narrow things like rocket artillery batteries, perhaps) that private citizens of the new US had. Certainly, anything the Continental Army had would have been in the hands of some private citizens somewhere. It just wasn't a thing back then to think about restricting access to military arms from private citizens or worrying about what was out there...or even having the resources to go out and really look to see, register stuff and perhaps place bans or constraints on it. The fledgling US government had bigger fish to fry...like people making whiskey and not paying taxes on it.
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  #8  
Old 10-10-2017, 11:29 AM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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Derleth's thread, and his reference to it, are impeccable.

For the sake of bibliography and coherence, perhaps a factual point there can be briefly recalled by anyone answering, or re-considered in the light of Query 1?
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Old 10-10-2017, 11:36 AM
XT XT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo Bloom View Post
Derleth's thread, and his reference to it, are impeccable.

For the sake of bibliography and coherence, perhaps a factual point there can be briefly recalled by anyone answering, or re-considered in the light of Query 1?
It's really asking a different question so not sure how applicable. Several people mentioned that during that time period you couldn't own a ship of the line, say. I suppose that's true enough (though I think it's the cost, not anyone stopping you), but then the US didn't have ships of the line then either. Some of the most powerful warships we had during this period were privately owned. By 1812 I think we might have crossed that line when the US frigates really started to operate. Even then, they were no match for British ships of the line...they were simply a nasty surprise for those arrogant British frigate captains in one on one duels.

To answer the other OP, I'd say that even during or after the civil war, in the US, private citizens could and did own just about every piece of technology the military had, with the possible exception being naval. I doubt many private ship owners could afford iron clad warships. But cannon, repeating rifles, even Gatling guns? There are instances of private citizens buying those privately for their men and outfitting them with them during the war.
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Last edited by XT; 10-10-2017 at 11:39 AM.
  #10  
Old 10-10-2017, 12:39 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
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Originally Posted by XT View Post
.... I doubt you can get a really precise answer to [OP Query 2] with cites, as I doubt anyone cared enough to go out and take an arms census to see what all was out there.... It just wasn't a thing back then to think about restricting access to military arms from private citizens or worrying about what was out there...or even having the resources to go out and really look to see, register stuff and perhaps place bans or constraints on it. The fledgling US government had bigger fish to fry...like people making whiskey and not paying taxes on it.
Good point.

As you have properly refined the relative importance or verifiability of the issues in OP, it can be asked: given the historiography of US jurisprudence, which were the first legal matters that addressed in whole or in part what is now called, in all its semantic obesity, "gun control"--including taxation. That is, when the powers that be took notice whatsoever of weaponry in possession.

(Actually, as a classification of criminal law in assaults is a different strand of this historical inquiry, but is relevant nonetheless.)
  #11  
Old 10-10-2017, 01:33 PM
mixdenny mixdenny is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XT View Post
To answer the other OP, I'd say that even during or after the civil war, in the US, private citizens could and did own just about every piece of technology the military had, with the possible exception being naval... But cannon, repeating rifles, even Gatling guns? There are instances of private citizens buying those privately for their men...
And well beyond the Civil War period. When the Thompson sub machine gun was introduced, it was advertised to the general public. There is a famous ad that shows a cowboy firing a Tommy towards some rustlers, which really looks out of place.

https://armsandthelaw.com/archives/2...r_issues_i.php

Other ads called it an "anti-bandit" gun. I can recall tripod mounted, 30-06 machine guns for sale at gun shops in the 1970s. They were war surplus and were only a couple hundred bucks, but that put it out of my range. And I just shrugged at them and wondered, "what would I do with one?" I think it is one of the Dirty Harry movies where Clint walks through a gun shop with one on the showroom floor for $175 or whatever.

Dennis

Last edited by mixdenny; 10-10-2017 at 01:35 PM.
  #12  
Old 10-10-2017, 02:12 PM
griffin1977 griffin1977 is offline
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So when was the first legislation restricting weapons brought in, in the US? When did it become illegal to own a working heavy artillery piece?
  #13  
Old 10-10-2017, 04:56 PM
mixdenny mixdenny is offline
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The first one was the Gun Control Act of 1968, that mainly dealt with interstate sales, restrictions on importing non-sporting weapons and required serial numbers on newly made guns:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_Control_Act_of_1968

This was amended by the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 which banned the sales of automatic weapons to private citizens. However, it did have an amnesty period where you could register all the machine guns you already owned. This pool of weapons remains constant to this day, no more can be added to the "transferable" list.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firear...Protection_Act

Dennis
  #14  
Old 10-10-2017, 04:59 PM
Orwell Orwell is offline
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Originally Posted by griffin1977 View Post
So when was the first legislation restricting weapons brought in, in the US? When did it become illegal to own a working heavy artillery piece?
US laws generally came in waves. The first wave was The National Firearms Act of 1934 and The Federal Firearms Act of 1938. Before that time, there were few restrictions on sale of ownership in the US.

Note that fully automatic guns (machine guns) are not outlawed even now, but are subject to rigorous regulations, taxes and clearances. Even if you are willing to pay the money and jump through the hoops, you can only own machine guns made before 1986. Thompson Maching Guns are a good example. They are old, and sell for over $20,000, because it's illegal to make and sell new ones.
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Old 10-10-2017, 05:14 PM
Moriarty Moriarty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mixdenny View Post
The first one was the Gun Control Act of 1968, that mainly dealt with interstate sales, restrictions on importing non-sporting weapons and required serial numbers on newly made guns:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_Control_Act_of_1968

This was amended by the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 which banned the sales of automatic weapons to private citizens. However, it did have an amnesty period where you could register all the machine guns you already owned. This pool of weapons remains constant to this day, no more can be added to the "transferable" list.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firear...Protection_Act

Dennis
Besides omitting the 1930's legislation that Orwell mentioned, this answer only discusses federal legislation. As I understand it, there were quite a lot of gun laws at the local level in the 19th century. I believe places like Tombstone, Arizona outright banned guns within city limits. And I also recall Al Capone doing a year in jail when he was arrested carrying a gun in Philly in 1929.

ETA: I can see that the quote I'm responding to might have been limited to addressing laws regarding automatic weapons (it's not really clear to me). I wasn't trying to be harsh. Regardless, my point still stands: there were local restrictions well before there were federal laws in place.

Last edited by Moriarty; 10-10-2017 at 05:15 PM.
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Old 10-10-2017, 05:39 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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I would assume the problem with a canon in the barn was cost - not just the cost of the piece, but the cost of loading it. A canon as I understand it uses substantially more powder than a rifle, so you'd blow your year's budget for hunting powder on a few shots - not to mention the cost of iron balls used for nothing more than being fired off and probably lost. Metal too was not cheap. Nothing was cheap in the days before automation. So, it would be an expensive hobby; and as many have mentioned, there is no practical use for a canon. Fire at marauders? Only works if they conveniently line up for you... or you need a lot of powder and shot.
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Old 10-10-2017, 07:42 PM
mixdenny mixdenny is offline
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...Regardless, my point still stands: there were local restrictions well before there were federal laws in place.
Yes there were, but in the context of the OP question #2: "Which arms were possessed by the Army but not citizens", they didn't really do anything. You just had to drop your guns off at the city limits and pick them up when you left.

And yes, 1934 is a better year for the first restrictions but not a real ban. Part of the impetus for the 1968 act was the fact that a Supreme Court decision gutted the Act of 1934. Turns out you were supposed to register, but you could not be prosecuted if you didn't.

To add to the continuing cannon discussion, they were also first restricted in 1934, being classed as Destructive Devices. But owning one would just be for a collection I would think, as they are suitable neither for committing or preventing a reasonable crime. Recalling gun shows put on by the legendary Ohio Gun Collectors at the Cleveland IX Center, people do indeed own some extremely serious shit. I personally know people with tanks** that have mounted, real machine guns. All perfectly legal. He usually has the dummy guns mounted.

I wonder if any cannon has been used in a crime?

**OK, it is a Ferret, not a tank, but try arguing that with someone facing one on the road. I've driven in the thing - what a hoot! Here is one for sale:

http://www.track-kickers.com/for_sale.php

Dennis
  #18  
Old 10-10-2017, 11:57 PM
kopek kopek is offline
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Originally Posted by XT View Post
. Things like rocket artillery were probably beyond most people...that's the only thing I can think of that might have been beyond what a private citizen in the US could own or, at least I've never heard of one in private hands.
I couldn't find a fast cite but I am sure civilians at some of the frontier (Ohio/Indiana-ish) settlements had some variety of Congreve-like Rockets basically to frighten Native forces who were used to cannons by that time -- circa 1816-25. If memory serves there was a mention of them in an early volume on the Indian Wars of the time. I don't know any civilians who had a Puckle (an early form of flintlock "machine gun") but if you had one it would have been perfectly legal. Heck, its legal today - but that's a different question.
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Old 10-11-2017, 12:04 AM
kopek kopek is offline
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Originally Posted by griffin1977 View Post
So when was the first legislation restricting weapons brought in, in the US? When did it become illegal to own a working heavy artillery piece?
It isn't. Most of the restrictions are on the ammo. You want and can pay for a Long Tom, fine and dandy. It is the shells Uncle Sugar is most interested in. But even then it is possible. There are various sources of information but the most amusing while still being informative is:

https://www.online-paralegal-program...gal-in-the-us/
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