A Right to Bear Arms: State and Federal Bills of Rights and Constitutional Guarantees

By Stephen P. Halbrook | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
Constitutions Without Bills of Rights

Four of the original states adopted written constitutions once independence was declared, but adopted no bill of rights. These states were New York, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Georgia. British war measures left the conventions of these states with little leisure to declare abstract rights. Further, the philosophical views would be expressed that a free people had little use for a written list, and that the existence of such a list could be misconstrued by future despots to deny the existence of any rights not mentioned. The following traces the constitutional conventions and the various manifestations of attitudes toward the right to bear arms in these four states.


NEW YORK

Swords in Defense of Their Liberties

Ever since the British began to threaten the right to have arms in 1768, New York's newspapers were in the forefront of patriotic endeavors to arouse sympathy for Bostonians throughout the colonies. Not surprisingly, in revolutionary New York, keeping and bearing arms was an unquestioned fact. This reality is exemplified by newspapers of New York City in 1776, before its occupation that fall by the British under General Howe.

Detailed instructions for the home manufacture of gunpowder and advertisements for sword canes were published in the New York Packet

-79-

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