"At the time of the ratification of the Bill or Rights possession of artillery by private citizens was commonplace. Shocked? Well, in the American Revolution and the War of 1812 the United States relied upon privateers for most of its sea power. Privateers were privately owned ships crewed by civilians who contracted with the US government and operating under a letter of marque and reprisal to raid the commerce of enemy nations, primarily Britain. The ships were not subject to military discipline or command and they sold their captures for profit. These ships, and indeed most merchant vessels of the time, carried several cannon. It would be a safe bet to say that at ratification there were more cannon in the hands of civilians than in the hands of the US government."
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