"If ye love wealth
greater than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude
greater than the animating contest for
freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your
arms. Crouch down and lick
the hand that feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may
posterity forget that ye were our
-- Samuel Adams
"And that the said
Constitution be never construed to authorize
to prevent the people of the
United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own
-- Samuel Adams, United States Congress, Bill of Rights
No State shall make or
enforce any law which shall abridge the
privileges or immunities of citizens of the
United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty,
or property, without due process of
law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal
of the laws.
-- Amendment XIV, Constitution of the United States of America
"It is because the
people are citizens that they are with safety armed.
The danger (where there is any)
from armed citizens, is only to the government, not to the society."
-- Joel Barlow: Equality in America, 1792
"False is the idea of
utility that sacrifices a thousand real
for one imaginary or trifling
inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and
because one may drown in it;
that has no remedy for evils, except destruction. The laws that forbid
the carrying of arms are laws of
such a nature. They disarm those only 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 than
to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater
confidence than an armed man.
They ought to be designated as laws not preventive but fearful of
crimes, produced by the tumultuous
impression of a few isolated facts, and not by thoughtful consideration
of the inconveniences and
advantages of a universal decree."
-- Cesare Beccaria, "On Crimes and Punishment", 1764
"There are only two
things we should fight for. One is the defense of
our homes, and the other is the Bill
-- Major General Smedley Butler, U.S. Marine Corps, 1930
The right of a citizen to
bear arms, in lawful defense of himself or
State, is absolute. He does not
derive it from the State government. It is one of the 'High Powers'
delegated directly to the citizen by the
United States Constitution, Amendment II, and "is excepted out of the
general powers of government". A
law cannot be passed to infringe upon it or impair it, because it is
above the law, and independent of the
-- Texas Supreme Court Decision, Cockrum vs State of Texas, 1859
"The power of the
sword, say the minority of Pennsylvania, is in the
hands of Congress. My friends and
countrymen, it is not so, for the powers of the sword are in the hands
of the yeomanry of America
from sixteen to sixty. The militia of these free commonwealths,
and accustomed to their arms,
when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and
irresistable. Who are the militia? Are
they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms
man against his own bosom?
Congress has 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."
-- Tench Coxe, Pennsylvania Gazette, 20 February 1788
"They that can give
up an essential liberty to obtain a little
safety, deserve neither liberty nor
-- Benjamin Franklin, 1759
"The millions of
people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in
a country as that which we
possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against
us...I know not what course others
may take, but as for me; give me liberty or give me death."
-- Patrick Henry, 23 March, 1775
"Guard with jealous
attention the public liberty. Suspect every one
approaches that jewel.
Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever
you give up that force, you are
-- Patrick Henry, 1788
"No free man shall
ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest
argument for the people to retain the
right to keep and bear arms is, in the last resort, to protect
themselves against tyranny in government."
-- Thomas Jefferson, 1776
"When the government
fears the people, there is liberty. When the
people fear the government, there is
-- Thomas Jefferson.
"Our safety, our
liberty depends on preserving the Constitution of the
United States as our fathers made it
inviolate. The people of the US are the rightful masters of both
Congress and the courts - Not to
overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the
-- Abraham Lincoln
preserves the advantage of being armed which
possess over the people of
almost every other nation...(where) the governments are afraid to trust
the people with arms."
-- James Madison, The Federalist #46
"No free government
was ever founded, or ever preserved its liberty,
without uniting the characters of
citizen and soldier in those destined for the defense of the State.
Such are a well regulated Militia,
composed of the freeholders, citizen, and husbandman; who take up arms
to preserve their property, as
individuals, and their rights as freemen."
-- James Madison, United States Congress, Bill of Rights
"Arms discourage and
keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and
order in the world as well as
property...Horrid mischief would ensue were the law abiding deprived
use of them."
-- Thomas Paine, 1775.
"The right of
self-defense is the first law of nature. In most
governments it has been the study of rulers to
confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Whenever
standing armies are kept up, and the
right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or
whatsoever, prohibited; liberty, if
not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction."
-- Justice George Tucker, Virginia Supreme Court, 1803
"Firearms stand next
in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American
people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence."
- George Washington
"That the people have
a Right to mass and to bear arms; that a well regulated militia
composed of the Body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper natural and safe
defense of a free State..."
- George Mason
"... whereas, 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
- Richard H. Lee, Additional Letters from the Federal Farmer 53, 1788
... the loyalists in the
beginning of the late war, who objected to associating, arming
and fighting, in defense of our liberties, because these measures were not
constitutional. A free people should always be left... with every possible power to
promote their own happiness."
- Pennsylvania Gazette, April 23, 1788
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