It means just that, but remember that the Bill of Rights was part of the federal Constitution, and did not prevent the states from regulating some aspects of bearing arms. For example, in STATE v. ROBERT S. HUNTLEY, the state court in North Carolina had to deal with a defendant who had armed himself, gone out in public and made threatening speech. Neither going about armed nor speaking was, in itself, illegal, but together, the court found that the two constituted a breach of the peace.
Originally Posted by NJCardFan
The defendant was tried upon the following indictment:The defendant's attorney argued that if these facts were true, they did not constitute a crime under the common law. The court disagreed, and its findings against the defendant were in three parts:
The jurors for the State upon their oath present, that Robert S. Huntly, late of the county aforesaid, laborer, on the first day of September, in the present year, with force and arms, at and in the county aforesaid, did arm himself with pistols, guns, knives, and other dangerous and unusual weapons, and being so armed, did go forth and exhibit himself openly, both in the daytime and in the night, to the good citizens of Anson aforesaid, and in the said highway and before the citizens aforesaid, did openly and publicly declare a purpose and intent, one James H. Ratcliff and other good citizens of the State, then and there being in the peace of God and of the State, to beat, wound, kill, and murder, which said purpose and intent, the said Robert S. Huntley, so openly armed and exposed and declaring, then (p.419)and there had and entertained, by which said arming, exposure, exhibition, and declarations of the said Robert S. Huntley, divers good citizens of the State were terrified, and the peace of the State endangered, to the evil example of all others in like cases offending, to the terror of the people, and against the peace and dignity of the State.
1. The offence of riding or going armed with unusual or dangerous weapons, to the terror of the people, is an offence at common law, and is indictable in this State.Thus, while there is a right to carry, the states can determine that there are times or places where the exercise of that right would result in a breach of the peace. Mostly, the concern in colonial times was against groups under arms, especially during public gatherings such as church services, or using a weapon against persons under judicial protection. The 1776 Delaware Constitution barred carrying weapons at elections in order to prevent coercion at the polls, stating that "no person shall come armed to any of them, and no muster of the militia shall be made on that day.Ē So clearly, there was an understanding that the right to keep and bear arms could be abused, and the brandishing of arms in certain venues would constitute such an abuse. In addition, an owner of private property would be within his rights to bar weapons from his property.
2. A man may carry a gun for any lawful purpose of business or amusement, but he cannot go about with that or any other dangerous weapon, to terrify and alarm, and in such manner as naturally will terrify and alarm a peaceful people.
3. The declarations of the defendant are admissible in evidence, on the part of the prosecution, as accompanying, explaining, and characterizing the acts charged.
BTW, the courts usually found that concealed carry was less likely to be protected by the Second Amendment than open carry, since assassins, criminals and others who were trying to conceal arms tended to be more likely to do so in the commission of a crime, while those who carried openly were less likely. It was the intent of the carrier, and the abuse of the right, which was restricted, rather than the right itself.