Historical Analogues: Text, History, and Tradition From a More Civilized Time

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As we’ve seen, when arguing about the text, history and tradition of gun control in America, a lot of the historical carry laws that existed in the 19th century restricted concealed carry, but allowed open carry.

As supporters of gun control struggle to justify the legality modern gun control laws under Bruen — including restrictions on concealed carry struggle to come up with historical analogues — the counterargument I’ve heard to this point is that while open carry wasn’t restricted, it was considered such a faux pas in urban areas that it was effectively banned by social custom if not law.

Maybe…though a lot of the people putting forward that argument seem to be projecting their own views onto 19th century society. Regardless,

I think it’s also quite possible that the conceal carry laws of the time were routinely violated by peaceable people back then just as they are now by many people. Or maybe the laws just weren’t enforced.

Look at the advertising from the era for small handguns, like these Colt ads from the early 20th century. They all seem to assume that carry was something lots of people — even “classy” people — did regularly. And some of these ads ran in mainstream publications.

It’s not like today where you only really see gun ads in gun-related or gun-adjacent publications. The Literary Digest, for example, was a huge publication in its day. So it seems reasonable that these and other highly concealable pistols were in regular, every day common use.


Konstadinos Moros is an Associate Attorney with Michel & Associates, a law firm in Long Beach that regularly represents the California Rifle & Pistol Association (CRPA) in its litigation efforts to restore the Second Amendment in California. You can find him on his Twitter handle @MorosKostas. To donate to CRPA or become a member, visit

This post was adapted by TTAG from tweets posted by Konstadinos Moros.

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