Pistols, Crime, and Public Safety in Early America

22 Pages Posted: 9 Jan 2008 Last revised: 4 Mar 2008

See all articles by Clayton E. Cramer

Clayton E. Cramer

College of Western Idaho

Joseph Edward Olson

Hamline University - School of Law


There is currently a rather vigorous debate under way about the meaning of the Second Amendment. What arms does it protect? The District of Columbia, in its attempt to defend its 1976 gun control law, has argued that the widespread possession of handguns represent an especially serious public safety hazard, and that even if arguendo, the Second Amendment protects an individual right, it would not extend to handguns, which it characterizes as uniquely dangerous weapons that present unique dangers to innocent persons. This paper examines what the history of pistols in early America tells us about what was likely the Framers original intent in protecting the right of the people to keep and bear arms with no apparent limitations concerning handguns and concludes that, unlike radio or nuclear power, repeating firearms (of some sort) were not only foreseeable but eagerly expected.

Keywords: handguns, Second Amendment

Suggested Citation

Cramer, Clayton E. and Olson, Joseph Edward, Pistols, Crime, and Public Safety in Early America. Willamette Law Review, Vol. 44, 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1081403

Clayton E. Cramer

College of Western Idaho ( email )

5500 East Opportunity Drive
Nampa, ID 83687
United States

Joseph Edward Olson (Contact Author)

Hamline University - School of Law ( email )

1536 Hewitt Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55104-1237
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics