Gun Case Prompts Lawyers to Look Way Back—to 1328

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tags: guns, gun control, Open Carry

Both sides of the national gun debate are poring over history books to try to bolster their case on whether residents of the nation’s capital can more freely carry guns on the street….

In the current case, parties that want to keep Washington’s gun-control rules in place—lawyers for both the city and Everytown for Gun Safety—are pointing to a 1328 English law passed during the reign of Edward III, decades before guns existed anywhere in the British Isles.

The law expanded on a 1285 statute that made it a crime “to be found going or wandering about the Streets of [London], after Curfew…with Sword or Buckler, or other Arms for doing Mischief,” according to a brief filed in September by lawyers for Everytown, a gun-control group backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

A collection of historians and the California Rifle and Pistol Association, a group associated with the NRA, filed their own understanding of the 700-year history of Anglo-American arms regulation. That brief, as well as one filed by the plaintiffs in the case, argues that the jury acquittal in 1686 of a man, “Sir John Knight,” who brought to a church in Bristol “a gun, to terrify the King’s subjects,” serves as evidence that the 1328 law wasn’t meant to apply broadly.

Lawyers for Washington and gun-control groups argue that officials in densely populated areas should be allowed some say over who can carry guns outside the home. Since the Heller ruling, that argument has held sway in appeals courts in New York, Philadelphia and Richmond, Va.

Read entire article at WSJ

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