The People Were Armed
Virginia Company colonists arrived at Powhatan (Jamestown) in 1607, with firearms.Read the Charters of Virginia, Carolina, Pennsylvania, also the Confederation Articles for New England. Available HERE or HERE.
For the next 182 years, American colonists regularly and constantly used firearms for defense, hunting, fighting, enforcing civil order, social functions, and militia training.Smith, J. 1608. "A True Relation...". Archived by University of Michigan HERE. Archived in edited form by the Wisconsin Historical Society HERE., Percy, G. 1608. "A Discourse of the Plantation..." - excerpts. Archived by virtualjamestown.org HERE, also by the National Humanities Center HERE., Andrews, JC. Militia of Jamestown Colony, 1607-1622. Military Collector & Historian; 2008, Vol. 60 Issue 4, p280., Philbrick, N. Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War. New York:Penguin Books; 2006:88., Sons of the American Revolution. Watertown's Military History. Boston:D. Clapp & Son; 1907:1-3. Available HERE or HERE., Morgan, ES. American Slavery, American Freedom. New York: WW Norton; 1975:240.
There was no police protection or professional military force in Colonial America. Citizen militias fulfilled those functions.French, LA. The History of Policing America From Militias and Military to the Law Enforcement of Today. 2018. Lanham, MD:Rowman & Littlefield; 2018.
The American frontier was hostile and disputed. Frequent wars were interspersed with constant smaller conflicts.See: Powhatan Wars, Pequot War, Dutch War, Peach War, Esopus Wars, Metacom's War, Bacon's Rebellion, King William's War, the Protestant Revolution, Queen Anne's War, Ginck's Riot, Tuscarora War, Yamasee War, Father Rale's War, King George's War, French and Indian War, Pontiac's War, Lord Dunmore's War, Revolutionary War, Shay's Rebellion. People regularly owned and used firearms.See Thomas Church's account of his father's experiences ending Metacom's War: Church T. Entertaining Passages Relating to Philip's War. Boston: B. Green; 1716. Available HERE or HERE or HERE. It is worth the effort to read this document. Its stark realities are astounding., For a comprehensive, evidence-based, unchallenged historical account of early American firearm ownership, see: Cramer, CE. Armed America: The Remarkable Story of How and Why Guns Became as American as Apple Pie. Nashville: Nelson Current; 2006. Available HERE., That colonial men wanted to keep a gun and feared to be without one: Morgan 1975. p.240., Benjamin Franklin's preamble to the 1755 Pennsylvania Miltia Act describes a normally armed citizenry. LINK., "Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation,..." James Madison, Federalist No.46 available HERE and HERE.
Militia laws varied according to geographic location and evolved across a period of 182 years.Shy, JW. A New Look at Colonial Militia. The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 20, no. 2, 1963, pp. 176–185. Available HERE., Millett AR, Maslowski P, Feis WB. For the Common Defense, A Military History of the United States from 1607-2012. New York: The Free Press; 2012.
Two characteristics of militia service remained constant: male citizens of a described age were expected or required to own fighting arms, and no militia law ever mentioned or implied any restriction on the citizen right to own and use firearms for legitimate non-militia purposes.An archive of New York militia laws is kept HERE., Virginia Militia laws are available HERE and HERE., Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania “Militia Act, 25 November 1755,” Founders Online, National Archives. Available HERE., Bowling Green State University keeps an archive of Colonial laws for 13 colonies HERE., A list of militia laws for all Colonies plus New Haven and Plymouth, with source citations, has been compiled by Cramer, CE: Colonial Firearms Regulation; April 6, 2016. Available at SSRN - http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2759961., The texts of original State Constitutions are archived at the Yale University Avalon Project.
A study of colonial probate records suggests a rate of 50% to 79% private ownership of firearms in latter Colonial America.Lindgren J, Heather JL. Counting Guns in Early America. Wm & Mary L. Rev, 2002;43:5,2, p.1838. Available HERE.
Colonial Americans regularly and normally owned and used firearms.