A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of th
A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,
the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
[United States Constitution, Second Amendment, 1789]
"You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation
as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases
which our founding fathers used in their struggle for independence."
[C. A. Beard
"A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise
the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness,
enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball and others
of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the
mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks."
"As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may
attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally
raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their
fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article [the Second
Amendment] in their right to keep and bear their private arms."
[Trence Coxe in "Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the
Federal Constitution", under the pseudonym "A Pennsylvanian" in
the Philadelphia Federal Gazette, 18 June 1789]
Last Monday a string of amendments were presented to the lower house;
these altogether respect personal liberty..."
[Senator William Grayson of Virginia in a letter to Patrick Henry]
"What, sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a
standing army, the bane of liberty... Whenever Governments mean to invade the
rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the
militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins."
[Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, I Annals of
Congress at 750, 17 August 1789]
"Banning gun shows to reduce violent crime will work about as well
as banning auto shows to reduce drunken driving."
[Bill McIntire, Spokesman for the National Rifle Association, on
Norfolk, Va. council's vote to cancel four gun shows, 1992]
"If the price I must pay for my freedom is to acknowledge that the government
was granted the power to infringe on them, then I am not free."
"It's the misfortune of all Countries, that they sometimes lie under a unhappy
necessity to defend themselves by Arms against the ambition of their
Governors, and to fight for what's their own. If those in government are
headless of reason, the people must patiently submit to Bondage, or stand upon
their own Defence; which if they are enabled to do, they shall never be put
upon it, but their Swords may grow rusty in their hands; for that Nation is
surest to live in Peace, that is most capable of making War; and a Man that
hath a Sword by his side, shall have least occasion to make use of it."
[John Trenchard and Walter Moyle]
"I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole
people, except for a few public officials."
[George Mason, 3 Elliott, Debates at 425-426]
"It is because the people are civilized, that they are with safety armed."
"The tank, the B-52, the fighter-bomber, the state controlled police and the
military are the weapons of dictatorship. The rifle is the weapon of
democracy... If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only
the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers.
Only the government - and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws."
"Let therefore every man, that, appealing to his own heart, feels the least
spark of virtue or freedom there, think that it is an honor which he owes
himself, and a duty which he owes his country, to bear arms."
"The price of liberty is, always has been, and always will be blood: The
person who is not willing to die for his liberty has already lost it to
the first scoundrel who is willing to risk dying to violate that person's
liberty! Are you free?"
"....History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their
subjected peoples to carry arms have prepared their own fall."
[Adolf Hitler, Edict of 18 March 1939]
"The world is filled with violence. Because criminals carry guns, we decent
law-abiding citizens should also have guns. Otherwise they will win and the
decent people will loose."
[James Earl Jones]
"To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of the people always
possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
[Richard Henry Lee writing in letters from the Federal Farmer to
the Republic (1787-1788)]
"On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry
ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect
the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning
may be squeezed out of the text, or intended against it, conform to the
probable one in which it was passed."
[Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, 12 June 1823]
"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who
approaches the jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright
force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitable ruined."
"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms
is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."
"Without either the first or second amendment, we would have no liberty; the
first allows us to find out what's happening, the second allows us to do
something about it! The second will be taken away first, followed by the
first and then the rest of our freedoms."
"The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil
interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that's good."
"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in
almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce
unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of people are armed, and
constitute a force superior to any body of regular troops that can be, on any
pretense, raised in the United States."
[Noah Webster, An Examination into the Leading Principals of the
"To disarm the people (is) the best and most effectual way to enslave them."
[George Mason, 3 Elliot, Debates at 380]
"Those who give up essential liberties for temporary
safety deserve neither liberty or safety."
"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater
than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek
not your council, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you;
and may posterity forget that ye were our country men."
"At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we
fortify against it? Shall we expect some trans-Atlantic military giant to step
the ocean and crush us with a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and
Africa combined with a Bonaparte at their head and disposing of all the
treasure of the earth, our own excepted, could not by force make a track on
the Blue Ridge or take a drink from the Ohio in a trial of a thousand years.
At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it
ever reach us it must spring up from amongst us. It cannot come from abroad.
If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be its author and finisher. As a
nation of free men, we must live through all times, or die by suicide."
[Abraham Lincoln, 1838]
"The tree of liberty must be watered periodically with the blood
of tyrants and patriots alike. It is its natural manure."
Gun Control: The assumption that everyone is a potential criminal.
The right to buy weapons is the right to be free."
"The right of the people to keep and bear... arms shall not be infringed. A
well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms,
is the best and most natural defense of a free country..."
[James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434, 8 June 1789]
"A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves...
and include all men capable of bearing arms."
[Richard Henry Lee, Senator, First Congress, Additional Letters
from the Federal Farmer (1788) at 169]
".... if raised, whether they could subdue a Nation of freemen, who
know how to prize liberty, and who have arms in their hands?
[Delegate Sedgwick, during the Massachusetts Convention
rhetorically asking if an oppressive standing army could prevail]
"..but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an
army of any magnitude, that army can never be formitible to the liberties of
the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior
to them in discipline and use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights."
[Alexander Hamilton speaking of standing armies in Federalist Paper 29]
"Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over
the people of almost every other nation... Notwithstanding the military
establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far
as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the
people with arms."
[James Madison in Federalist Paper 46]
"Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other
terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American... The
unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or
state government, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands
of the people."
[Trench Coxe, Pennsylvania Gazette, 20 February 1788]
"The right of the people to keep and bear arms has been recognized by the
General Government; but the best security of that right after all is, the
military spirit, that taste for martial exercises, which has always
distinguished the free citizens of these states... Such men form the best
barrier to the liberties of America."
[Gazette of the United States, 14 October 1789]
"The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other
hand, arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe,
and preserve order in the world as well as property. The same balance would be
preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but
since some will not, others dare not lay them aside... Horrid mischief would
ensue were one half deprived the use of them..."
"The people are not to be disarmed of their weapons.
They are left in full possession of them."
[Zachariah Johnson, 3 Elliot, Debates at 646]
"A free people ought... to be armed..."
[George Washington, speech of 7 January 1790]
"The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone
who is able may have a gun."
[Patrick Henry, in the Virginia Convention on
the ratification of the Constitution]
"Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we
cannot be trusted with arms for our own defense? Where is the difference
between having our arms in possession and under our direction, and having them
under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real object of having
those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal
safety to us, as in our own hands?"
"The best we can hope for concerning the people
at large is that they be properly armed."
[Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers at 184-188]
"That the said Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to
infringe the just liberty of the press or the rights of conscience; or to
prevent the people of the United states who are peaceable citizens from
keeping their own arms..."
"No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms."
[Thomas Jefferson, proposal Virginia Constitution, June 1776,
1 T. Jefferson Papers, 334]
"Arms in the hands of citizens (may) be used at individual
discretion... in private self-defense..."
[John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of the Governments of
the UAS, 471 (1788)]
".... the ultimate authority... resides in the people alone."
[James Madison, in Federalist Papers No. 46]
"The whole of the Bill [of Rights] is a declaration of the right of the people
at large or considered as individuals... It establishes some rights of the
individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to
deprive them of."
[Albert Gallatin of the New York Historical Society, 7 October 1789]
".... a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public
services, such as police protection, to any particular individual citizen..."
[Warren v. District of Columbia, 444 A.2d 1 (D.C. App.181)]
"There is no constitutional right to be protected by the
state against being murdered by criminals or madmen."
[Bowers v. DeVito, 686 F.2d 616, at 618 (7th Cir. 1982)]
"I don't care about crime, I just want to get the guns."
[Sen. Howard Metzenbaum]
"1935 will go down in History! For the first time, a civilized nation has full
gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient and the
world will follow our lead to the future!"
"What do you mean 'wait fifteen days'? This is America!"
[California citizen attempting to purchace a firearm for
self-defense during rioting in Los Angelas, week of 30 April 1992]
"Firearms are second only to the Constitution in
importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth."
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank