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Prior Supreme Court View Took Right of Citizens to Carry Arms across State Lines for Granted

Prior Supreme Court View Took Right of Citizens to Carry Arms across State Lines for Granted
If the Supreme Court had acknowledged Dred Scott to be a citizen, they would have had to acknowledge his right “to keep and carry arms wherever [he] went.” (Dred Scott. Oil on canvas by Louis Schultze, 1888. Acc. # 1897.9.1. Missouri Historical Society Museum Collections. Photograph by David Schultz, 1999. NS 23864. Photograph and scan (c) 1999-2006, Missouri Historical Society.)
AmmoLand posted an article of mine on Tuesday offering a rebuttal to Neil H. Buchanan, a “professor of law” at The George Washington University who claims:

“[T]he Second Amendment is simply not relevant to the US gun debate. None of the proposals to limit gun purchases, to limit (or even ban) carrying weapons in public, to require background checks, to forbid gun ownership by domestic abusers, to limit magazine capacities, or any other proposal on the horizon even comes close to bumping up against the Second Amendment.”

In exposing all the kinds of misinformation Prof. Buchanan was spewing to a readership that won’t know they’re being had, I missed one important point.  Fortunately, there was a knowledgeable reader providing feedback who reminded me of something I should have remembered: The opinion in the Dred Scott case as it relates to the right to bear arms.

The infamous decision that held that “a negro, whose ancestors were imported into [the U.S.], and sold as slaves,” even if freed, could not be an American citizen and thus could not sue in federal court? What, so now “racist gun nuts” are reduced to supporting slavery?

Of course not, and anyone leveling that accusation will be attempting to use it in a lying smear to keep a truth they don’t want people to know about from being shared.

I should have remembered, though, because I referenced the case in a letter I wrote to then-Mayor of Cleveland Michael R. White back in 1999, when challenging his embracing of “gun control” while refusing to acknowledge its racist roots.

Here’s the relevant passage from Supreme Court majority rationale:

“It would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognised as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.”

A subsequent observation from Cruikshank and cited in Heller clears up that bit about rights being “given”:

“This is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence…”

The bottom line though, particularly for those who would rewrite keeping and bearing arms out of American history, is that doing so by free men was considered non-controversial back in the day, to where even the Supreme Court considered it as something taken for granted. Noting the circumstances of Dred Scott and his family moving between states and the Court’s considered use of the  qualifier “wherever they went,” it’s apparent no one back then thought it a big deal or otherwise illegal for a free man to cross state lines armed.

And while some states enacted edicts against concealed carry, those were not put to a Second Amendment challenge, meaning the Dred Scott acknowledgement is something proponents of nationwide concealed carry reciprocity might want to use. They also might want to keep in mind that obtaining permission was once an alien concept to most Americans.


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David Codrea’s opinions are his own. See “Who speaks for Oath Keepers?”



David Codrea blogs at The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance (, and is a field editor/columnist for GUNS Magazine. Named “Journalist of the Year” in 2011 by the Second Amendment Foundation for his groundbreaking work on the “Fast and Furious” ATF “gunwalking” scandal, he is a frequent event speaker and guest on national radio and television programs.



  1. To me David to have to carry a CCP is also alien. It seems clear that it is a flagrant violation of the law, so why would I admit that such and such state is correct and not use my Constitutional right.I do not wish to be a rebel, but this is my Constitutional right, correct?

    1. No, it is NOT your “constitutional right”.

      The US Constitution does not give you that, or many other, right. It is your Natural right, PERIOD. The US Constitution, Bill of Rights, lists those things that are NOT under the purview of those that serve within our governments, but was retained by the people; including weapons, what type, how many, how they are carried. It does ALLOW those who serve within our government to do certain things ONLY if specific named in writing things occur, and then this is to be handled ONLY in the manner described within the US Constitution.


      So what RIGHT is to be protected from those that serve within our governments is put into writing here?
      The right of the people to be secure that no one will search or take their person, house, papers, effects (*other things they may have).

      When can those that serve within our governments LAWFULLY, constitutionally search/take the things of the people?
      ONLY when they have PROBABLE CAUSE for a WARRANT; and within that warrant should be
      – description of the thing, place, person to be searched and or seized. It has to be a LAWFUL warrant, not signed by a judge and left blank to be filled out after the action(s) described above is implemented. That is a crime (signed, blank warrant) on both the part of the judge and the officer(s). Notice that the Fourth Amendment does not say that the people are free of those things ONLY in their own homes, but anywhere that they are, and anything that the people have must have a lawful warrant in our nation to be implemented lawfully instead of these actions that are done hourly throughout our nation against the American people and in full support of the destruction of our nation from within (think TSA, etc and see that the hourly is an apt description – make one no longer wonder why our nation is being destroyed from within, doesn’t it. Knowledge of the document that all (or most) of us here are bound to is one of the MAJOR ways to stop aiding or creating the destruction from within. The next step would be to KEEP THE OATH.

      Okay, now that this is understood, what does the Second Amendment say?
      Constitution of the United States of America, Second Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

      What is to be protected from those that serve within our government? The peoples right to KEEP AND BEAR ARMS. When and for what reason can this be modified or stopped by those serving within our governments? There is NO reason for which those who serve within our government cannot PROTECT and DEFEND the people implementing that right. This is what “shall NOT be infringed” means. No one who serves within our government in any position has the LAWFUL authority to do other then to PROTECT and DEFEND the American people in any way they want to carry arms, how many that they wish to own, etc.

      But if a weapon of any type, nor no weapon at all, is used in a crime, say injuring or killing a person, what about then? The action of injuring or killing a person, etc is in itself the crime, not the weapon used. That action of injuring or killing is what law enforcement has lawful authority over ONLY, and only if it breaks a law because in our nation we are to do anything we want AS LONG AS we cause no harm to another or to anothers property. PERIOD.

      James Madison: “Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the end of government, that alone is a just government, which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own.”

      “As general rule men have natural right to do anything which their inclinations may suggest, if it be not evil in itself, and in no way impairs the rights of others.” In Re Newman (1858), 9 C.

      “Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self-preservation, commonly called the first law of nature….
      All men have a right to remain in a state of nature as long as they please; and in case of intolerable oppression, civil or religious, to leave the society they belong to, and enter into another.
      When men enter into society, it is by voluntary consent; and they have a right to demand and insist upon the performance of such conditions and previous limitations as form an equitable original compact…
      All positive and civil laws should conform, as far as possible, to the law of natural reason and equity….
      “Just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty,” in matters spiritual and temporal, is a thing that all men are clearly entitled to by the eternal and immutable laws of God and nature, [Page 418] as well as by the law of nations and all well-grounded municipal laws, which must have their foundation in the former….
      The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but only to have the law of nature for his rule.
      In the state of nature men may, as the patriarchs did, employ hired servants for the defence of their lives, liberties, and property; and they should pay them reasonable wages. Government was instituted for the purposes of common defence, and those who hold the reins of government have an equitable, natural right to an honorable support from the same principle that ” the laborer is worthy of his hire.” But then the same community which they serve ought to be the assessors of their pay. Governors have no right to seek and take what they please; by this, instead of being content with the station assigned them, that of honorable servants of the society, they would soon become absolute masters, despots, and tyrants. Hence, as a private man has a right to say what wages he will give in his private affairs, so has a community to determine what they will give and grant of their substance for the administration of public affairs. And, in both cases, more are ready to offer their service at the proposed and stipulated price than are able and willing to perform their duty.
      –> In short, it is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in the power of one, or any number of men, at the entering into society, to renounce their essential natural rights, or the means of preserving those rights; when the grand end of civil government, from the very nature of its institution, is for the support, protection, and defence of those very rights; the principal of which, as is before observed, are Life, Liberty, and Property. If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renunciation. The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave…
      –> Now what liberty can there be where property is taken away without consent? (asset forfeiture)” Samuel Adams

      “Constitution of this state declares, among inalienable rights of each citizen, that of acquiring, possessing and protecting property. This is one of primary objects of government, is guaranteed by constitution, and cannot be impaired by legislation.” Billings v. Hall (1857), 7 C. 1.

      “Right of protecting property, declared inalienable by constitution, is not mere right to protect it by individual force, but right to protect it by law of land, and force of body politic.” Billings v. Hall (1857), 7 C. 1.

      It is your NATURAL RIGHT, the US Constitution only requires that those who serve within our governments at all levels DEFEND and PROTECT that, and our other, rights. It cannot LAWFULLY be regulated or registration be required because this was one of the areas in which the PEOPLE retained, did NOT delegate any power to the government. Want to be free? To conitnue to be able to own stuff, including the shirt on your back? KEEP your Oath, if you took one, and if not take and KEEP it! Because if we lose America, YOU, me, everyone around us will own NOTHING – not clothing, not food or drink, not transportation of any kind, not property, not our children, not even the idea that we will be able to chose who we mate with, marry, etc.

      *such as goods; movables; personal property.

      1. I suspect that this also holds true.

        “The people cannot delegate to government the power to do anything which would be unlawful for them to do themselves.” — John Locke

      2. Having read a number of Constitution’s from the federal to the State, particularly the original 13 Colonies, I notice one important aspect that people completely ignore.
        None of those documents give the authority “to execute the Laws of the Union” to any agency of government. There are no police, or any law enforcement agency mentioned, and the sheriff is generally looked upon as a bailiff of the court. In fact police were formed to hunt down slaves, and later to intimidate political enemies. The same functions they perform today.
        The one body recognized with the power as noted in the very first words of the Constitution is “We the People”. That body defined is the Militia so “I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people.” – George Mason.
        “[T]he whole people” as defined in the state statutes is able-bodied men, and the necessary support of the community with various assignments such as providing weapons to those required to keep a rifle, but could not afford one. This is clearly laid out for all to see, but for some reason those who claim to be patriots or pro-2nd skim over it, deny it, or worse, disparage it.
        This is a nation of popular sovereignty so naturally government would have no authority to carry out any of the legislation that certainly could be considered unconstitutional. Then there is the issue of one suspected of committing a crime. Today, an innocents life is ruined. There is the high cost of defense, but in most cases innocent people will accept a plea for fear that the vast majority simply believe that because a person has been arrested, they are automatically guilty. They will not risk the ignorance of a jury, particularly when the jury is being instructed by an instrument of the state.
        I’ve seen, or heard about enough people who have been framed, and by “those who serve within our government” to know that giving the authority to arrest to any unlawful agent is a very, very bad idea.
        I’m sure Patrick Henry saw it the same way when he spoke of an armed Militia, and sought a Bill of Rights. As a student of the character of men, he trusted few, and would not leave the faith of the nation to agents of government.
        If you want a winning strategy against gun control, you fight for the revitalization of the Militia. Think of all the benefits it brings. Emergency services on the spot as the people would be involved in their own safety instead of waiting for some technician. Background checks would be an integral part of maintaining “A well regulated militia”.
        Crime on the streets, in the halls of the government, and in the courts would be greatly reduced.
        If you don’t want a nation of popular sovereignty then there is no point at all in making an argument for the 2nd amendment.

  2. It’s nothing short of amazing that some high school kid will be ordered to remove a tee shirt some teacher finds offensive…. which causes his/her parent’s attorney files a First Amendment violation. Then shortly thereafter, the US Supreme Court agrees to hear that case. They always seem ready to hear a First Amendment case. The Second Amendment? Not so much.

    Our Second Amendment rights are trampled on throughout this Country year after year…. but the US Supreme Court refuses to hear any of those cases, or if they do…. their decision leaves lots of wiggle room for the anti-gun crowd to side-step or interpret the decision to suit themselves.

    Like the First Amendment, we need an acknowledgement from those ‘non-political’ Jurists that the Second Amendment is an absolute Right given to law abiding citizens by the US Constitution. A Right, like all the others in our Bill of Rights. None of the other Nine Rights require ‘permission’ from a government agency to be exercised, so why would our Founders leave the Second Amendment open for debate and control by the government? They didn’t.

    No where in the Constitution does it state that we lose the right to protect ourselves and family when we cross a State line. There’s plenty of documents written by the framers of our Constitution explaining why they wrote the Amendments, which also expanded on their meaning. How come the US Supreme Court Jurists can’t find those papers? Do those Jurists understand the difference between a Right and a Privilege?

    Lose the Second Amendment and we’ll lose them all. Obama certainly tried to dismantle our Constitution…. but thankfully didn’t have the time, political strength or backing of the police or military to pull it off.

    The US Supreme Court should leave politics aside…. and do their job.

  3. The real issues are there are too many people, including Judges, who think they have the authority and right to take my rights away based solely on their opinion. And, generally, I’m not able to stop them.

  4. The freedom to go armed as Dred Scott had is precisely why i don’t agree with HR38 which in one way is better than what we have so far as traveling in or through states whose criminal politicians don’t obey their oath or the laws of our land BUT IT STILL IS GIVING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT an authority that was never assigned to them. Constitutional carry with no infringements is the only guideline, all other “ compromises” are just that… still bowing to criminals in office that should be behind bars or under 6 feet of dirt legally n lawfully.

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