Firearms and Weapons Legislation up to the Early 20th Century

113 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2013 Last revised: 26 Jul 2023

Date Written: January 15, 2013


This document is a compilation of state firearms and weapons legislation from the colonial era until the start of the twentieth century. This research provides a comprehensive view of firearm and weapons regulations during this era. This document was created in an attempt to understand the historic scope of the Second Amendment in the wake of the Supreme Court's Heller and McDonald decisions. Relevant legislation is categorized by type as well as historical era. Sources are divided into four historical periods: (1) English, which includes English statutes up to the split with the American colonies in 1776; (2) Colonial, which includes statutes passed within the American colonies beginning in 1607 and continuing to the ratification of the Constitution in 1791; (3) Pre-14th Amendment; and (4) Post-14th Amendment.

NOTE* - The contents of this document have been incorporated into the Duke Center for Firearms Law, Repository of Historical Gun Laws, available at . The Repository is a much more comprehensive database of historical firearms regulation and I strongly recommend anyone doing historical firearms law research look to the Repository first.

Keywords: 2nd Amendment, Second Amendment, Heller, McDonald, Firearms, gun, guns, Constitutional law, originalism, original meaning, constitutional history, state constitutions, Statute of Northampton, civil rights, weapons, 14th Amendment

JEL Classification: K14, K1, K2

Suggested Citation

Frassetto, Mark, Firearms and Weapons Legislation up to the Early 20th Century (January 15, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Mark Frassetto (Contact Author)

Everytown for Gun Safety ( email )

PO Box 4184
New York, NY 10163

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