Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Second Amendment

America's Founding Fathers On The Individual Right To Keep And Bear Arms

Thursday, July 29, 1999

Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia:

"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms."-- Proposed Virginia Constitution, 1776

"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 than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." -- Jefferson`s "Commonplace Book," 1774-1776, quoting from On Crimes and Punishment, by criminologist Cesare Beccaria, 1764

 

George Mason, of Virginia:

"[W]hen the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually.". . . I ask, who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers."-- Virginia`s U.S. Constitution ratification convention, 1788

"That the People have a right to keep and bear Arms; that a well regulated Militia, composed of the Body of the People, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe Defence of a free state." -- Within Mason`s declaration of "the essential and unalienable Rights of the People," -- later adopted by the Virginia ratification convention, 1788

 

Samuel Adams, of Massachusetts:

"The said Constitution [shall] be never 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."-- Massachusetts` U.S. Constitution ratification convention, 1788

 

William Grayson, of Virginia:

"[A] string of amendments were presented to the lower House; these altogether respected personal liberty."-- Letter to Patrick Henry, June 12, 1789, referring to the introduction of what became the Bill of Rights

 

Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia:

"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... The mind that aims at a select militia, must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle."-- Additional Letters From The Federal Farmer, 1788

 

James Madison, of Virginia:

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."-- The Federalist, No. 46

 

Tench Coxe, of Pennsylvania:

"The militia, who are in fact the effective part of the people at large, will render many troops quite unnecessary. They will form a powerful check upon the regular troops, and will generally be sufficient to over-awe them."-- An American Citizen, Oct. 21, 1787

"Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? 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 governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people." -- The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788

"As the military forces which must occasionally be raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the next article (of amendment) in their right to keep and bear their private arms." -- Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789

 

Noah Webster, of Pennsylvania:

"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power."-- An Examination of The Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, Philadelphia, 1787

 

Alexander Hamilton, of New York:

"[I]f circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights and those of their fellow citizens."-- The Federalist, No. 29

 

Thomas Paine, of Pennsylvania:

"[A]rms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. . . Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them."-- Thoughts On Defensive War, 1775

 

Fisher Ames, of Massachusetts:

"The rights of conscience, of bearing arms, of changing the government, are declared to be inherent in the people."-- Letter to F.R. Minoe, June 12, 1789

 

Elbridge Gerry, of Massachusetts:

"What, sir, is the use of militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty. . . Whenever Government means to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise a standing army upon its ruins."-- Debate, U.S. House of Representatives, August 17, 1789

 

Patrick Henry, of Virginia:

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel."-- Virginia`s U.S. Constitution ratification convention

 

For more information, see Halbrook, Stephen P., "The Right of the People or the Power of the State: Bearing Arms, Arming Militias, and the Second Amendment," Valparaiso Univ. Law Review, Vol. 26, No. 1, Fall, 1991; and "That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right," Univ. of N.M. Press, 1984

IN THIS ARTICLE
Second Amendment
TRENDING NOW
NRA Scores Legal Victory Against ATF; “Pistol Brace Rule” Enjoined From Going Into Effect Against NRA Members

Monday, April 1, 2024

NRA Scores Legal Victory Against ATF; “Pistol Brace Rule” Enjoined From Going Into Effect Against NRA Members

NRA Members Among the Largest Class Protected from Draconian Rule

With a Stroke of the Pen, Biden ATF Criminalizes Tens of Thousands of Private Firearm Sellers

News  

Friday, April 12, 2024

With a Stroke of the Pen, Biden ATF Criminalizes Tens of Thousands of Private Firearm Sellers

We have long been warning of the rule the Biden ATF has been preparing to redefine who is considered a firearm “dealer” under U.S. law.  The administration’s explicit objective was to move as close to so-called “universal background ...

Maine: Contact the Governor and Urge Her to Veto All Gun Control Bills!

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Maine: Contact the Governor and Urge Her to Veto All Gun Control Bills!

After a nearly 24-hour marathon legislative session, the Maine House and Senate finally adjourned until "Veto Day" in the coming weeks. 

Colorado: Semi-Auto Ban Passes House and "Sensitive Places" Expansion to be Heard in Committee

Monday, April 15, 2024

Colorado: Semi-Auto Ban Passes House and "Sensitive Places" Expansion to be Heard in Committee

On Sunday, HB24-1292 the semi-auto ban, received final passage in the House and has been transmitted to the Senate where it awaits a committee assignment. 

Colorado: Three Anti-Gun Bills Advance - Contact Representatives Now!

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Colorado: Three Anti-Gun Bills Advance - Contact Representatives Now!

Last night, the Colorado general Assembly continued its attempts to whittle down Second Amendment protections in Colorado. Two anti-gun bills, House Bill 24-1349 and House Bill 24-1353, passed the House Appropriations Committee and have advanced to the House floor, ...

Joe Biden Seems to Hate Cannons as Much as He Hates the Truth

News  

Monday, April 15, 2024

Joe Biden Seems to Hate Cannons as Much as He Hates the Truth

For quite some time, we’ve talked about Joe Biden and his gift for gaffes. Whether it is him losing battles with his teleprompter, his train of thought spectacularly derailing, forgetting which politicians have passed away, or simply mumbling ...

NRA Scores Legal Victory in Dispute with DC Attorney General

News  

Thursday, April 18, 2024

NRA Scores Legal Victory in Dispute with DC Attorney General

The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) has announced a legal victory in a high-profile governance matter brought by the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia (DCAG).

ATF Trafficking Report Reiterates Futility of “Universal” Background Checks

News  

Monday, April 15, 2024

ATF Trafficking Report Reiterates Futility of “Universal” Background Checks

So-called “universal” background checks were back in the news last week. The Biden administration and the regime press were promoting the impression that ATF’s new “engaged in the business” rule closed the non-existent “gun show ...

Maine: Only One Vote Needed to Kill Waiting Periods

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Maine: Only One Vote Needed to Kill Waiting Periods

If you want to save your Second Amendment rights in Maine, you need you to act NOW. After lengthy debates, the House and Senate passed 72-hour waiting periods by only ONE VOTE in each chamber.

Minnesota: Anti-Gun Legislation Passed in Senate Committee

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Minnesota: Anti-Gun Legislation Passed in Senate Committee

Today, Senate File 4312 and Senate File 5153 were passed in the Senate Finance Committee and could receive a vote on the Senate floor as early as next week. The bills would impose a one-size fits ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.