Believe it or not, before NRA lobbying for the gun industry and right wing fear and zealotry, gun regulation made a lot of sense:
Anti-concealed carry laws not only existed but were ubiquitous from the Colonial period through the start of the 20th century. Forty-five states adopted such laws, with most enacted in the early 19th century. They were a reaction to rising crime and interpersonal violence, especially in the South and the so-called Wild West, where anti-gun carry laws were rapidly put in place when cities and towns were established.
The laws often clearly stated what had motivated their passage. For example, New Jersey’s 1686 law imposed concealed carry restrictions by saying that “no person or persons … shall presume privately to wear any pocket pistol … or other unusual or unlawful weapons within this Province” because the practice induced “great Fear and Quarrels.” An 1821 Tennessee law sought to punish anyone “so degrading himself” by carrying prohibited weapons including pistols. Georgia’s 1837 law began: “An Act to guard and protect the citizens of this State, against the unwarrantable and too prevalent use of deadly weapons.” Alabama’s 1839 anti-concealed carry law was titled “An Act to Suppress the Evil Practice of Carrying Weapons Secretly.” Delaware’s 1852 law targeted “all who go armed offensively to the terror of the people.” The point was unmistakable: Anyone who carried a concealed gun was probably up to no good.
Robert J. Spitzer is a professor of political science at the State University of New York at Cortland. He is the author of five books on gun policy, most recently, “Guns Across America: Reconciling Gun Rules and Rights.”