We all probably know the
Second Amendment by heart, but do we know the underlying intent that served as a
foundational basis for that Amendment?
Obviously, the basic
content of our Founding Fathers’ thoughts ultimately determined the final
content of our Constitution. But in
order to gain some insight to their fundamental thought process, i.e. intent, we
might want to read what they wrote on the subject external to the Bill of
In their hearts of
hearts—their souls—how did they really feel about the private citizen’s
right to keep and bear arms—and why? This
is a question the anti-gunners in our midst use and twist constantly—as in “The
Second doesn’t really mean what you think it does. It means that only a well regulated militia has the right to
keep and bear arms, not the people.”
The militia defined by the anti-gunners as the National Guard—in other
words, a government regulated military force.
Is that the view of the Founding Fathers?
To help us better
understand their intentions I suggest we read the words they used when
persuading others about the merits of their ideas.
Therein we’ll find the best available indication of actual intent
behind the Amendment from those that actually wrote it.
Below are a few
representative examples among many regarding our right to keep and bear arms
from the Founders themselves. All
quotes are unedited by me. I could
not and would not presume to improve upon the inspiration of our Founding
My only request is that you
read, think, and determine for yourself what they really meant.
Then after reading their own words, ask yourself if the Founders seem
like advocates of “common sense gun control” or do they seem somewhat more
like “Second Amendment Absolutists” to you?
Once you come to a
conclusion, be an active voice of commitment in defense of and for that
conclusion—whatever it may be. Just
don’t be noncommittal and therefore uncommitted—there’s too much at stake.
"No free man shall
ever be debarred the use of arms." Thomas Jefferson,
"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 . . . " Richard Henry Lee, Additional Letters
From the Federal Farmer 53 (1788).
"I ask, sir, what is
the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most
effectual way to enslave them." George Mason, during Virginia's
Convention to Ratify the
"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."
Thomas Jefferson, quoting Cesare Beccaria in On Crimes and punishment (1764).
"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." Noah Webster, An Examination into the Leading Principles of the
Federal Constitution Proposed BV the Late Convention (1787).
"Americans need not
fear the federal government because they enjoy the advantage of being armed,
which you possess over the people of almost every other nation." James
"False is the idea of
utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling
inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water 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 only
those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crime."--Cesare
Beccaria, quoted by Thomas Jefferson
"The people never give
up their liberties but under some delusion." Edmund Burke (1784).
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, spoken during floor debate over the Second
Amendment, I Annals of Congress at p. 750, August 17, 1789.
"Americans have the
right and advantage of being armed - unlike the citizens of other countries
whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms."
--James Madison, The
Federalist Papers No. 46 at 243-244.
"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" --Tench
Coxe, Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.
"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, 1788
"The great object is that every man be armed" and "everyone who is able may have a gun." --Patrick Henry
"Are we at last
brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted
with arms for our 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 184-8
"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 the world
deprived of the use of them..." --Thomas Paine
"...the people are
confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private
arms" --from article in the Philadelphia Federal Gazette June 18,1789 at 2,
"What country can
preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that
their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms."
--Thomas Jefferson to James
"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
"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, during Massachusetts's Convention to Ratify the
Just several views from their
As for the view from my
“The most essential
elements of preserving American liberty are God, guts and a free mind connected
to a well trained trigger finger.”
~ Colonel Dan ~
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