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For example: a canon, certain types of muskets etc...

Were there laws for whether women or freed slaves could not own specific weapons?

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I'm not sure that slaves were considered citizens at the time, so would you rather have us focus on individual groups of people, or on citizens as a whole? – Reliable Source Dec 21 '12 at 1:20
I recently got into this discussion and a friend of mine noted that some cannon at the time were privately owned, though I have not looked into it deeper. Not sure about other weapons, though considering we were still a frontier/colony/country its doubtful there were laws regarding who owned what. – MichaelF Dec 21 '12 at 11:54
I'd certainly believe cannons were privately owned. Honestly, it seems like a modern assult rifle or a modern colt 45 would be a more dangerous weapon than a canon. The point being the model of owning anything in 1789 is not the same as in 2013 – timpone Dec 22 '12 at 22:13
@timpone - what do you mean by "model"? ALso, unrelated, you can own a tank in USA (sadly, without actual weapons working). – DVK Dec 23 '12 at 23:16
like the mental model of what the concept means (in a large cultural sense). Honestly, I'm a little mixed on the gun ownership issue (the issue at hand); I'm not at all mixed on the absurdity of the original intent doctrine – timpone Dec 25 '12 at 18:58
up vote 11 down vote accepted

Short answer - There were no federal legal prohibitions against weapon ownership in 1789.

Long answer. During that year the "United States" had at least 14 governments. For the first two months of the year, the territory was governed by the Articles of Confederation. I haven't reviewed all of the legal precedents under the AoC, but I'm willing to bet my collection of Stack Exchange Hats that AoC had no restrictions on gun ownership. Philosophically, that was an issue that would have been reserved for the states. For the last ten months of the year, the United States was governed by the Constitution. A quick review of the legislation passed that term, indicates that they didn't touch weapons laws. (they hadn't even passed the 2nd amendment yet). Furthermore since the clear intent of the drafters of the constitution was to avoid specifying negative rights, the absence of any mention of weapons, then there were no restrictions on weapon ownership.

But I said 14 governments, and I've only touched two. The other 12 were the state governments (Rhode Island didn't ratify the constitution till later). State laws may have restricted weapon ownership.

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Add the word "Federal" (or something of that sense) to your first sentence, and this may be good enough for an upvote. It is only very late that you mention state laws, but without look at those, this can only really be half the answer. – T.E.D. Dec 21 '12 at 14:55
One other state ratified late, so the number may be 13 – Mark C. Wallace Dec 21 '12 at 14:56

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