The Assize of Arms of 1252 [England] stated that all "citizens, burgesses, free tenants, villeins and others from 15 to 60 years of age" should be armed. The poorest of them were expected to at least have a bow. This made it easier for the King to raise an army, but also meant that the bow was a commonly used weapon by rebels during the Peasants' Revolt. From the time that the yeoman class of England became proficient with the longbow, the nobility in England had to be careful not to push them into open rebellion. This was a check on the power of the nobility of England which did not exist on the European continent.
This from a Wikipedia discussion of the history of the long bow. Food for thought.
Funny, I was just reflecting on my way home from a hunting trip to the Arizona/Mexican border that the reason Mexico is out of control is that the citizens cannot arm themselves. If every citizen were issued a weapon the drug cartels would be powerless.
Well, I'd like to believe that last statement but just can't. My understanding is that most of the casualties in Tijuana and and other border towns are rival drug gang members, presumably all very well armed. I don't think armed citizens can disrupt the economics behind the drug cartels. But I wish it was otherwise ...
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