Five laws in force on Dec. 15, 1791, that required individuals to have or carry arms, independent of the militia and the military

The following chart shows that four states (Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, and North Carolina), that had laws requiring individuals to have or carry arms in some non-militia and non-military situations, contained about 1,629,579 people, or about 43.76% of the U.S. population at that time.

The laws in the chart below exclude militia and military laws requiring the keeping and bearing of arms because those organizations probably had their own rules and regulations for arms.

Original Text of Law

Brief Summary


Georgia – 1770 – No. 191

“An Act for the better security of the inhabitants, by obliging the male white persons to carry fire arms to places of public worship. …

II. And for the better and more effectual carrying this act into execution, Be it further enacted, That the church warden or church wardens of each respective parish, and the deacons, elders, or select men, of other places of public worship, shall be obliged, and they are hereby empowered to examine all such male persons, either in or about such places of public worship, at any time after the congregation is assembled, on Christmas and Easter days, and at least twelve other times in every year, and if, upon finding any person or persons liable to bear arms, and bring them to places of public worship as aforesaid, without the arms and ammunition by this act directed, and shall not within fifteen days after such offence is committed, inform against such person or persons so offending, in order to recover the penalty as aforesaid, such church warden or church wardens, deacons, elders, or selectman shall, for every such neglect of duty, or giving information as aforesaid, forfeit and pay the sum of five pounds, to be recovered and applied as in this act is before directed.”

P. 157, Watkins-A Digest of the Laws of the State of Georgia (1799)

“Obliges” white men to carry fire arms to places of worship.


Massachusetts – March 6, 1632

“As an addi[tion] to an order made the 22nd of March, 1630, it is ordered that if any single p[er]son be not pvided [sic] of sufficient armes allowable by the prided capt or leifeten’s, before the 10th of Aprill nexte, shalbe compelled to serve by the yeare with any maister that will retaine him for such wages as the Court shall thinke meete to appoynte.”

Vol 1, Page 93, Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England (Boston: William White, 1853)

If someone required to carry arms cannot afford them, then he must find a job to pay for them.


Massachusetts – March 9, 1636-1637

“And all such persons (except such as some Courte or the counsel shall see cause to dispence with, & except those of Boston who shall hearin bee ordered by the magistrates there) shall come to the publike assemblyes with their musketts, or other peeces fit for servise, furnished with match, powder, & bullets, upon paine of … for every default, to bee levyed & imployed as aforesaid.”

Vol 1, Page 190, Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England (Boston: William White, 1853)

Authorizes a penalty for not coming armed to public assemblies if arms are required by duty.


New York – Feb. 14, 1787 – Chap. XX

“An Act for the better apprehending of Felons. . . . .

That all men generally be ready, and armed and accoutred, at the commandment and summons of sheriffs … to pursue and arrest felons whenever there shall be occasion … and they who will not do so … shall be punished by fine…”

Page 336, Laws of the State of New-York, Vol. 1

Calls for a penalty for not being armed when asked to pursue a felon.


North Carolina – 1782 – Chap. XLVII

“An Act to oblige the Inhabitants of Bladen county to attend Public Meetings With their Arms. . . .

II. … all persons attending the county courts, elections, and all other public meetings in the said county be, and they are hereby required to bring their guns, and at least six rounds of ammunition to repell the enemy in case they should attempt to surprise the good citizens of said county, …”

Page 474, State Records of North Carolina, Vol. XXIV

Requires those attending certain public events to carry guns.

The arms laws and quotes in the last three charts (E, F & G above) combined make a strong case that individuals having arms was important in 17th and 18th century America.