I've been trying to track down the early legal and ideological sources of bans on concealed weapons, which were enacted in many states in the 1800s. Bliss v. Commonwealth (1822) struck down an 1813 ban enacted in Kentucky, but later cases generally upheld the concealed carry bans, often on the grounds that open carry was available as an option. And in the course of my research, I ran across this interesting item, from the Richmond, Virginia Grand Jury in 1820, see Daily National Intelligencer, Sept. 9, 1820, at 2 (paragraph breaks added):
On Wearing Concealed Arms
We, the Grand Jury for the city of Richmond, at August Court, 1820, do not believe it to be inconsistent with our duty to animadvert upon any practice which, in our opinion, may be attended with consequences dangerous to the peace and good order of society. We have observed, with regret, the very numerous instances of stabbing, which have of late years occurred, and which have been owing in most cases to the practice which has so frequently prevailed, of wearing dirks: Armed in secret, and emboldened by the possession of these deadly weapons, how frequently have disputes been carried to extremities, which might otherwise have been either amicably adjusted, or attended with no serious consequences to the parties engaged.
The Grand Jury would not recommend any legislative interference with what they conceive to be one of the most essential privileges of freemen, the right of carrying arms: But we feel it our duty publicly to express our abhorrence of a practice which it becomes all good citizens to frown upon with contempt, and to endeavor to suppress. We consider the practice of carrying arms secreted, in cases where no personal attack can reasonably be apprehended, to be infinitely more reprehensible than even the act of stabbing, if committed during a sudden affray, in the heat of passion, where the party was not previously armed for the purpose.
We conceive that it manifests a hostile, and if the expression may be allowed, a piratical disposition against the human race — that is derogatory from that open, manly, and chivalrous character, which it should be the pride of our countrymen to maintain unimpaired — and that its fatal effects have been too frequently felt and deplored, not to require the serious animadversions of the community. Unanimously adopted.
James Brown, Foreman.
I should stress that I quote this as a window on attitudes of the time, not to endorse this for today. I generally support laws allowing law-abiding adults to carry concealed weapons in public; and it seems to me that the Grand Jury's strong preference for open carry over concealed carry is on balance not sound for today. But it's important to realize why bans on concealed carry — coupled with toleration of open carry — rightly or wrongly became popular in the 1800s. If any of you have pointers to specific sources from before 1822 that can shed more light on the subject, I'd love to see them.
UPDATE: I neglected to city Clayton Cramer's Concealed Weapon Laws of the Early Republic, which is quite informative on antebellum concealed carry laws; I would still love to see early specific sources on this, though, since the book has less than one would like -- though possibly nearly all that is available, for reasons that the author points out.