the court confine themselves entirely to the consideration of the distinction between a law prohibiting the right, and a law merely regulating the manner in which arms may be worn. They say, there can be no difference between a law prohibiting the wearing concealed weapons, and one prohibiting the wearing them openly.
We think there is a manifest distinction. In the nature of things, if they were not allowed to bear arms openly, they could not bear them in their defence of the State at all. To bear arms in defence of the State, is to employ them in war, as arms are usually employed by civilized nations. The arms, consisting of swords, muskets, (p.161)rifles, &c., must necessarily be borne openly; so that a prohibition to bear them openly, would be a denial of the right altogether. And as in their constitution, the right to bear arms in defence of themselves, is coupled with the right to bear them in defence of the State, we must understand the expressions as meaning the same thing, and as relating to public, and not private; to the common, and not the individual defence.