Guns in Early Vermont

April 30, 2018

by John McClaughry

Stephen Halbrook is probably the nation’s leading authority on the role of firearms in Western history. During the passage of the regrettable gun control bill in Montpelier, I was boning up on the views of the early Vermonters on firearms, and I came across Halbrook’s article “The Right to Bear Arms in the First State Bills of Rights: Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Vermont, and Massachusetts”. It can be found in volume 10 of the Vermont Law Review that appeared in 1985.

After describing the debates in Pennsylvania and North Carolina,  Halbrook turns to Vermont, whose founding fathers put Article 16 into Chapter I of the early republic’s constitution.  That’s the article in the Bill of Rights that says that Vermonters have the right “to keep and bear arms for the defence of themselves and the State.”

Here’s a quote:  “The legacy of Ira Allen, founding father of Vermont, symbolizes the understanding of the right to keep and bear arms in the early republic. This legacy included his constant exercise of this right by carrying pistols for self-protection, his participation in the adoption of the Declaration of Rights which explicitly recognized this right, and his purchase and eventual distribution of 20,000 muskets to the populace. Pistols in the pocket and an arsenal at home were options available to every free citizen of the Green Mountain State.”

There is no doubt that the right of armed self defense was foremost in the minds of this state’s founders. What they would say to Gov. Scott about limiting the number of shells a citizen can defend himself with probably couldn’t be printed in today’s papers.

John McClaughry is the vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Roger Joslin April 30, 2018 at 8:37 pm

Good one John. Phil Scott and those other idiots were reacting to a unfortunate incidence and not thinking clearly about our true rights. Perhaps they shouldn’t be in public office, if they can’t think more clearly than that.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

About Us

The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

Latest News

VT Left Wing Media Bias Unmasks Itself

July 24, 2020 By Rob Roper Dave Gram was a long time reporter for the Associated Press, is currently the host of what’s billed on WDEV as a...

Using Guns for Self Defense – 3 Recent Examples

July 24, 2020 By John McClaughry  The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal last week published eleven news stories about citizens using a firearm to stop a crime. Here are...

FERC ruling on solar subsidies could help Vermont ratepayers

July 21, 2020 By John McClaughry Last Thursday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission finalized its updates to the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), in what the majority...

The Moderate Left’s Stand for Free Speech

July 17, 2020 By David Flemming Harper’s Magazine, a long-running monthly magazine of literature, politics, culture, finance, and the arts, is hardly what you would call a ‘politically...

Trump’s Regulatory Bill of Rights

July 16, 2020 by John McClaughry “President Trump [last May] issued an executive order entitled  ‘Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery.’ The executive order includes a regulatory bill...