Quotes Supporting the Right to Keep and Bear Arms

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  • 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.
    --- 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America

    Those who would give up essential liberties, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty or safety.
    --- Benjamin Franklin

    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

    Of all the tyrannies, a tyranny sincerly exercised for the good of its victims may be the most opressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
    --- C. S. Lewis

    I am convinced we can do to guns what we've done to drugs: create a multi-billion dollar underground market over which we have absolutely no control.
    --- George L. Roman

    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.
    --- Thomas Jefferson

    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.
    --- Pol Anderson

    Are gun buy-back programs like offering cut rate prostitutes in the hope of reducing rape?

    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.
    --- Joel Barlow

    The prohibition is general. No clause in the Constitution could by a rule of construction be conceived to give to Congress a power to disarm the people. Such a flagitious attempt could only be made under some general pretense by a state legislature. But if in blind pursuit of inordinate power, either should attempt it, this amendment may be appealed to as a restraint on both.
    --- William Rawle, View of the Constitution (1825)

    The tank, the B-52, the fighter-bomber, the state controlled police and the military are the weapons on dictatorship. The rifle is the weapon on 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.
    --- Edward Abbey

    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.
    --- Thomas Pownall

    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?
    --- Andrew Ford

    . . . 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

    It is our opinion that an ordinance may not deny the people the constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms, and to that extent the ordinance under consideration is void.
    --- New Mexico Appelate Court, City of Las Vegas v. Moberg, 1971

    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

    The maintenance of the right to bear arms is a most essential one to every free people and should not be whittled down by technical constructions.
    --- North Carolina Supreme Court, State v. Kerner (1921)

    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 inevitably ruined.
    --- Patrick Henry

    Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage then to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.
    --- Thomas Jefferson, quoting 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccaria in "On Crimes and Punishment", 1764

    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.
    --- Andrew Ford

    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 Federal Constitution, 1787

    To disarm the people (is) the best and most effectual way to enslave them.
    --- George Mason, 3 Elliot, Debates at 380

    We think it clear that our constitution provides our citizenry the right to bear arms for their self-defense.
    --- Indiana Appellate Court, Schubert v. DeBard, 1980

    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.
    --- Samuel Adams

    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.
    --- Thomas Jefferson

    Gun Control: The assumption that everyone is a potential criminal.

    The right to buy weapons is the right to be free.
    --- van Gogt

    It would give to persons of the negro race, who are recognized as citizens in any one state of the Union, the right to enter every other state, whenever they pleased. . . .and it would give them full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might meet; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went.
    --- U.S. Supreme Court, Dred Scott v. Sanford

    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. To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.
    --- Richard Henry Lee, Senator, First Congress, Additional Letters from the Federal Farmer 53 (1788)

    If cowardly and dishonorable men sometimes shoot unarmed men with army pistols or guns, the evil must be prevented by the penitentiary and gallows, and not by a general deprivation of constitutional privilege.
    --- Arkansas Supreme Court, Wilson v. State (1878)

    . . . 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, The Fedralist Papers 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 . . .
    --- Thomas Paine, Thoughts on Defensive War, 1775

    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

    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

    The signification attributed to the term Militia appears from the debates in the convention, the history and legislation of Colonies and States, and the writings of approved commentators. These show plainly enough that the Militia comprised all males capable of acting in concert for the common defense.
    --- US Supreme Court, U.S. vs. Miller, 1939
    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?
    --- Patrick Henry

    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...
    --- Samuel Adams

    No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms.
    --- Thomas Jefferson, proposal Virginia Constitution, June 1776, 1 T. Jefferson Papers, 334

    If gun laws in fact worked, the sponsors of this type of legislation should have no difficulty drawing upon long lists of examples of crime rates reduced by such legislation. That they cannot do so after a century and a half of trying.
    --- Orrin G. Hatch, Chairman, Subcommittee on the Constitution, January 20, 1982

    Congress shall never disarm any citizen, unles such as are or have been in actual rebellion.
    --- Samual Adams, Proposal for the Constitution on behalf of New Hampshire

    And can there be entertained a reasonable doubt but the provisions of that act import a restraint on the right of the citizen to bear arms? The court apprehends it not. The right existed at the adoption of the Constitution; it then had no limit short of the moral power of the citizens to exercise it, and in fact consisted of nothing else but the liberty of the citizen to bear arms.
    --- Kentucky Court of Appeals striking down a Concealed Carry prohibition statute (1822)

    I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty, than those attending too small a degree of it.
    --- Thomas Jefferson

    The Constitution preserves the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation where the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.
    --- James Madison, The Federalist No. 46

    Arms in the hands of citizens (may) be used at individual discression... in private self-defense...
    --- John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of the Governments of the UAS, 471 (1788)

    The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyrany in government.
    --- Thomas Jefferson

    . . . the ultimate authority . . . resides in the people alone.
    --- James Madison, in Federalist Papers No. 46

    A fear of weapons is a sign of retarded sexual and emotional maturity.
    --- Sigmond Freud, General Introduction to Psychoanalysis

    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

    All of the evidence indicates that the Second Amendment, like other parts of the Bill of Rights, applies to and protects individual Americans. We find that the history of the Second Amendment reinforces the plain meaning of its text, namely that it protects individual Americans in their right to keep and bear arms whether or not they are a member of a select militia or performing active military service or training. We reject the collective rights and sophisticated collective rights models for interpreting the Second Amendment.
    --- Fifth Circut Court of Appeals, U.S. vs. Emerson, (2001)

    . . . a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any particular individual citizen . . .
    --- D.C Appellate Court, Warren v. District of Columbia

    Am I the only one who finds it unconscionable that an Air Force fighter can now shoot down a hijacked civilian airliner full of passengers, but the pilots of that airliner are not allowed to defend the aircraft from the hijacker, thus preventing the hijacking in the first place?
    --- American Airlines Capt. Tom Snelling, Honolulu Advertiser, 2001

    Crisis is the rallying cry of the tyrant.
    --- James Madison

    As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people 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 in their right to keep and bear their private arms.
    --- Trench Coxe, "Remarks on the first part of the amendments to the Federal Constitution", Federal Gazette, 18 June 1789

    There is no constitutional right to be protected by the state against being murdered by criminals or madmen.
    --- 7th Circut Court, Bowers v. DeVito (1982)

    It is a worthy thing to fight for one's freedom; it is another sight finer to fight for another man's.
    --- Mark Twain
    The right of the whole people, old and young, men, women and boys, and not militia only, to keep and bear arms of every description, and not merely such as are used by the militia, shall not be infringed, curtailed, or broken in on, in the slightest degree; and all this for the important end to be attained: the rearing up and qualifying of a well regulated militia, so vitally necessary to the security of a free state.
    --- Georgia Supreme Court, Nunn v. State, (1846).

    These practices, amply documented in hearings before this Subcommittee, leave little doubt that the Bureau [of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms] has disregarded rights guaranteed by the constitution and laws of the United States. It has trampled upon the second amendment by chilling exercise of the right to keep and bear arms by law-abiding citizens. It has offended the fourth amendment by unreasonably searching and seizing private property. It has ignored the Fifth Amendment by taking private property without just compensation and by entrapping honest citizens without regard for their right to due process of law.
    --- Report of the Subcommittee on the Constitution of the United States Senate (1982)

    (Jesus) said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one."
    --- Luke, Chapter 22, Verse 36

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