Learning from their experiences, the colonists used French and Indian guerrilla techniques to their advantage in the Revolutionary War.
The French and Indian War taught the futility of European battle lines in the wilderness, and the colonists took a new and confident view of their ability to defend themselves.
The statement of one purpose behind the right to arms does not limit the broader rights protected. Chief Justice John Marshall admonished that the Constitution cannot take on the "prolixity of a legal code....
[O]nly its great outlines should be marked...." Also, the conditions and circumstances of the period require a finding that while the stated purpose of the right to arms was to secure a well-regulated militia, the right to self-defense was assumed by the Framers. "It is never to be forgotten that, in the construction of the language of the Constitution ..., as indeed in all other instances where construction becomes necessary, we are to place ourselves as nearly as possible in the condition of the men who framed that instrument." Thus courts must liberally construe the protections of the Bill of Rights to carry out the Framers' intent. The approach that the Framers' intent is controlling will be followed in this article.
The French and their Indian guerrillas did not restrict their full-scale war to pitched battles, but also utilized the ambush and hit-and-run techniques, which have become the hallmark of modern guerrilla warfare.They were not persuaded of the advantages of limited warfare waged only during clear weather in open field, nor were they accustomed to pitched battles and the trumpet-heralded attack.The Indians struck without warning and were a nightly terror in the remote silence of backwoods cabins. Moreover, the threat from such Indian warfare did not disappear until ten years-after the defeat of Custer's force in 1876 on the Little Bighorn River in Montana. Thus, the Framers were certainly concerned with the threat posed to national security by Native Americans. Parts of the English colonies suffered intermittent threats of invasion by the French, the Dutch, and the Spanish.Boyle and Scott, merchants in Glasgow, is instructive on the defensive pistol-carrying habits of civilians. As it is sometimes dangerous in traveling through our wooden Country Particularly at this time when the Planters are pressed for old Ballances, we find it necessary to carry with us some defensive Weapons, for that purpose, you'll be pleased to send us by some of the first Ships for this River a pair of Pistols about 30/ [shillings] Price.Let them be small, for the convenience of carrying in a side Pockett, and as neat as the Price will admit of.