Sunday, May 04, 2008

"...and that in self-defense any man has a right to bear arms...", NY Times, 9/22/1852

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They have been making an unco' noise in Boston about the carrying on concealed weapons, to which certain parties, in consequence of the Liquor Law, have felt obliged to resort in self-defense. A man named Richardson, whose zeal on behalf of temperance had outstripped his discretion, and concentred much angry feeling upon him, bore arms in preparation for the worst; and having been arrested upon the charge, was taken before Mr. Justice Timperly for examination. The Justice, after a fair hearing, dismissed the charge, on the ground that the man had serious reason for apprehension; and that in self-defense any man has a right to bear arms.
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While this learned dictum conflicts oddly with the supposition that the law is fully equal to the protection of the citizen, we receive it as a singularly useful precedent. Street difficulties in New York are not so much the result of the exclusion as of the abuse of ardent spirits. But they are at least as frequent as in Boston; and probably the need of triple steel is as pressing here as there. Under the Aldermanic regime, our bullies have fallen into bad habits, which it will take some time for the present improved order of things to correct. In the meantime, we have Mr. Justice Timperly for it, that we may bear revolvers; that their use is justifiable in self-defense; and, in short, that the social organization is so far dissolved, that justice itself stands ready to utter the warning, sauve que peut [a frantic rush to escape]. Alas, for the times and the manners!
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Copyright The New York Times

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