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State v. Wilburn
Tennessee Supreme Court
66 Tenn. 57 (1872)
An 1870 Tennessee statute prohibited the public or private carry of various weapons, including pistols and revolvers. The Tennessee Supreme Court held that the act was too broad because it amounted to a prohibition against ownership of military-style guns. A new version of the statute was passed in 1871, containing much the same language as the 1870 version but allowing the carry of army pistols. However, the law stipulated that army pistols could only be carried openly in the hands. Robert Wilburn (defendant) carried two handguns—one a military revolver, the other a non-military-style pocket pistol. Wilburn was indicted on two counts of violating the 1871 law. The second count, which pertained to the revolver, was dismissed before trial. The jury acquitted Wilburn on the first count, which pertained to the pocket pistol. The state (plaintiff) appealed the dismissal of the second count to the Tennessee Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Nicholson, C.J.)
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