Mississippi’s Pioneering Gun and Ammunition Control Law

Be it enacted,…That no freedman, free negro or mulatto, not in the military service of the United States government, and not licensed by the board of police of his or her county, shall keep or carry firm-arms of any kind, or any ammunition, dirk or bowie knife….and it shall be the duty of every civil and military officer to arrest any freedman, free negro, or mulatto found with any such arms and ammunition, and cause him or her to be committed to trial in default of bail.

Mississippi Black Code, 1865. Quoted in Stephen P. Halbrook, That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984), 108.

David Beito is a Research Fellow at The Independent Institute and editor of the Independent book, The Voluntary City: Choice, Community, and Civil Society (with Peter Gordon and Alexander Tabarrok).
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