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How do you picture Texans protecting themselves in public when much of the state was still a frontier? Contrary to popular stereotypes, Texas had some of the strictest weapon regulations in the country during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. During this period, Texas enacted a series of regulations commonly referred to as deadly weapon laws. These laws prohibited the carrying in public of concealable weapons such as pistols, bowie knives, and brass knuckles. Drawing from a wealth of county criminal records, Dr. Brennan Rivas will discuss why the laws were put in place, how the laws were enforced, and what happened to people who violated these laws. As a bonus, you'll learn how to find out if your ancestor was a criminal. Join us!

Brennan Gardner Rivas currently holds the Bill & Rita Clements Fellowship for the Study of Southwestern America at SMU. She was previously a lecturer at Texas Christian University where she received her Ph.D. in 2019. Her article “An Unequal Right to Bear Arms: State Weapons Laws and White Supremacy in Texas, 1836-1900” was published in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly in January 2018.

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