You might hear people say owning guns and carrying them around everywhere we go is a god-given right.

Well, we can actually thank Buddhists for our guns, and they don’t recognize a supreme deity. It was in China, beginning in the 900s during the early Song Dynasty (when Buddhism was thriving and encouraged), that the first guns were created. They used bamboo tubes with projectiles blown out of them by exploding gunpowder to kill their enemies.

From that point on, guns became more advanced and even large cannons were developed as well as “hand cannons.” Next, guns were used by Hindus in the Majapahit Empire.

Then, apparently Muslims were the next group armed with the latest guns available by the 1200s as they fought invading Mongols in the Middle East.

Some sources only refer to guns as being developed around the 1300s, however, because that’s when they started being used in Europe, and were finally in the hands of Christians. And boy-oh-boy! That’s when the process of making guns more and more lethal really took off!

But when pressed, people who say gun ownership is a god-given right will explain that what they really mean is that self defense is a god-given right. Okay. But that’s different from claiming ‘I need to carry a lethal weapon with me all the time in public places’ isn’t it?

As the U.S. Supreme Court considers prohibiting guns in public places (New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen), the history of weapons and laws associated with them are being examined again.

The facts of the case are that the state of New York requires a person to show a special need for self-protection to receive an unrestricted license to carry a concealed firearm outside the home. Robert Nash and Brandon Koch challenged the law after New York rejected their concealed-carry applications based on failure to show “proper cause.” A district court dismissed their claims, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed.

The question for the Supreme Court: Does New York’s law requiring that applicants for unrestricted concealed-carry licenses demonstrate a special need for self-defense violate the Second Amendment?

According to Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history and science in society at Wesleyan University, even medieval weapons law, including a 1328 English statue prohibiting the public carry of edged weapons without royal permission, is at the center of this debate.

In an article Tucker wrote, published by The Conversation, she states that in the 2008 decision by the Supreme Court over District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the Court ruled that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects an individual right to possess a firearm for personal self-defense in the home, Justice Antonin Scalia claimed there was a long tradition granting freedom to possess weapons, citing the 1689 English Bill of Rights, which influenced those who put together our Constitution. She also points out that the English Bill of Rights includes this clause: “The subjects which are Protestant may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law.”

Some who think everyone has a god-given right to carry guns with them wherever they go seem to want to skip over the “as allowed by law” part of that phrase.

Tucker is one of 17 professors of law, American history, and English history, who signed an amicus brief presented to the Supreme Court that: “Demonstrates through a review of historical evidence that neither English nor American history supports a broad Second Amendment right to carry firearms or other dangerous weapons in public based on a generic interest in self-defense.”

U.S. states and territories have a long history of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous weapons in public. Even in the wild and woolly West, before the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral in October 1881, visitors in Tombstone, Arizona were required to disarm upon arrival, either at a hotel or a lawman’s office, according to Smithsonian Magazine, which also notes that residents of the famed cattle towns of Dodge City, Abilene, and Deadwood had similar restrictions.

One thing for sure that played a part in the creation of guns is irony. For without gunpowder there would be no guns, and gunpowder came about after Chinese alchemists accidentally discovered saltpeter, then combined it with charcoal and sulfur. They weren’t trying to blow things up, just the opposite. They were trying to discover a potion for immortality.

Steve Gillespie is an editor with Paxton Media Group. Email him at

Steve Gillespie is an editor with Paxton Media Group. Email him at

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