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2007

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Mandatory Gun Ownership, The Militia Census Of 1806, And Background Assumptions Concerning The Early American Right To Arms: A Cautious Response To Robert Churchill, William G. Merkel Dec 2006

Mandatory Gun Ownership, The Militia Census Of 1806, And Background Assumptions Concerning The Early American Right To Arms: A Cautious Response To Robert Churchill, William G. Merkel

William G. Merkel

In "Gun Ownership in Early America," published in the William and Mary Quarterly in 2003,' Robert Churchill drew on probate inventories and militia records to make the case that arms ownership was pervasive in late colonial, revolutionary, and early national America. Churchill concluded with the observation that "[i]t is time to ponder what these guns meant to their owners and how that meaning changed over time."'2 In his substantial contribution to this volume of Law and History Review,3 Churchill takes up that challenge himself and advances the claim that widespread arms ownership engendered a sense of possessory entitlement, and that …