English Legal History – Right To Bear Arms

I read recently with some interest that in England past, we once had our own version of the second amendment. What a shock to the system to find this very discussion developing from an article in the Washington post. British Lawyers argues with the same vigor as modern day adversaries.


The legal ins and outs of the article is rather in depth, but it does allude to the reality that at one point, even children were taught to bear arms in those times and that many normal folk of the day would be armed with guns and knives for protection against those gangs and highway robbers. However the law was very grey

there was the very common practice of people carrying knives, as a necessary tool for everyday use in cutting food and other tasks–and necessarily available for self-defense in an emergency. So we know that the Statute of Northampton was not interpreted literally. A literal reading would forbid what the law required: watch and ward, Flutrand arms training. What did the law actually forbid? The only case on the subject seems to be Sir John Knight’s Case, from 1686. It was charged that Knight and three friends “did walk about the streets armed with guns, and that he went into church of St. Michael, in Bristol, in the time of divine service, with a gun, to terrify the King’s subjects.

” In the prosecution’s theory of the case, Knight’s intent was “to terrify.” The Chief Justice of the King’s Bench agreed with that legal standard.

The Chief justice of the time observed the law to be antiquated and questionable as it was deemed that gentleman may ride armed for their own protection.

(James Tyrrell, Bibliotheca Politica 639 (London, W. Rawlins, S. Roycroft & H. Sawbridge 1694) (Statute of Northampton allows persons to carry arms “in their own defence against Illegal Violence.”). The major criminal law treatise of the 18th century and for several decades of the 19th century was William Hawkins “Pleas of the Crown” (1716). It said that the Statute of Northampton applied “where a Man arms himself with dangerous and unusual Weapons, in such a Manner as will naturally cause a Terror to the People.” So we have the standard that peaceable carry is lawful, and terrifying carry is unlawful. That is the standard which is advocated by the amicus brief which I joined, and which Professor Satia criticizes. She writes that: The amicus brief by Kopel et al. paints a picture of widespread gun carrying incongruous with this well-established history.

One can clearly deduce that in England there existed within the legal system a 2nd amendment of sorts that existed prior to the constitution of the United States Of America. The basis of which is entirely similar to the reasoning behind the 2nd amendment in the USA.

the legal system and judiciary faced the same issues and opposition that is faced today with the USA Second Amendment, and at the basis was man’s right to defend himself.

via English legal history and the right to carry arms – the washington post