Notable Quotes

Click on one of the following to go to the first quote listed under that citation:

John Adams
John Quincy Adams
Samuel Adams
ANDREWS v. STATE (Tennessee)
Arkansas Supreme Court
Charles A. Beard
Sir William Blackstone
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis
Edmund Burke
Winston Churchill
Tench Coxe
Gen. James H. Doolittle
Frederick Douglass
Albert Einstein
General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Benjamin Franklin
Albert Gallatin
LA Chief of Police Darryl Gates
Gazette of the United States
Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts
Mahatma Ghandi
Senator William Grayson of Virginia
Alexander Hamilton
Senator Orrin Hatch
Patrick Henry
Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Shogun
Heinrich Himmler
Adolph Hitler
Senator Hubert H. Humphrey (D-Minnesota)
Justice Robert H. Jackson
Thomas Jefferson
Zachariah Johnson
Senator Richard Henry Lee
Abraham Lincoln
James Madison
George Mason
H.L. Mencken
John Stuart Mill
NUNN v. STATE (Georgia)
Thomas Paine
William Rawle
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Major General W.H. Rupertus
SA Oberfuhrer of Bad Tolz
STATE v. KERNER (North Carolina)
STATE v. REID (Alabama)
WILSON v. STATE (Arkansas)
George Washington
Noah Webster
James Wright

Arms in the hands of citizens [may] be used at individual private self-defense...

--John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of the Governments of the United States of America, 471 (1788)

Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will be America's heart, her benedictions and prayers, but she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator of her own.

-- John Quincy Adams, 1821.

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 ... Debates and Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, at 86-87 (Peirce & Hale, eds., Boston, 1850)

The rifle of all descriptions, the shot gun, the musket and repeater are such arms; and that under the Constitution the right to keep and bear arms cannot be infringed or forbidden by the legislature.

-- ANDREWS v. STATE; 50 Tenn. 165,179,8 Am. Rep. 8, 14 (Tennessee Supreme Court, 1871)

...the right to keep arms necessarily involves the right to purchase them, to keep them in a state of efficiency for use, and to purchase and provide ammunition suitable for such arms, and to keep them in repair.

-- ANDREWS v. STATE; 50 Tenn. (3 Heisk) 165, 178; (1871)

War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth fighting for is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares about more than his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

-- Anonymous. (Seen on a poster at a gun show. No author was cited for this truly excellent statement.)

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 a constitutional privilege.

-- Arkansas Supreme Court, 1878

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 the struggle for independence.

-- Charles A. Beard

Those rights, then, which God and nature have established, and are therefore called natural rights, such as life and liberty, need not the aid of human laws to be more effectually invested in every man than they are; neither do they receive any additional strength when declared by the municipal laws to be inviolate. On the contrary, no human legislature has power to abridge or destroy them, unless the owner shall himself commit some act that amounts to a forfeiture.

-- Sir William Blackstone

Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficient....the greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.

-- Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, Olmstead v. United States

The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.

-- Edmund Burke, 1784 speech

Never turn your back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never!

-- Winston Churchill

Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom? Congress shall have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right 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.

-- Tench Coxe, Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788

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 powers 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.

-- Tench Coxe in "Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution." Under the pseudonym "A Pennsylvanian" in the Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789 at 2 col. 1

If a gun bill will pass because of the politics of the situation, you must see to it that its burdens are imposed upon a man because of a criminal background and not because he is an ordinary citizen and perhaps poor.

-- Gen. James H. Doolittle

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will. Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they have resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they suppress.

-- Frederick Douglass

The strength of the Constitution lies entirely in the determination of each citizen to defend it. Only if every single citizen feels duty bound to do his share in this defense are the constitutional rights secure.

-- Albert Einstein

The one weapon every man, soldier, sailor, or airman should be able to use effectively is the rifle. It is always his weapon of personal safety in an emergency, and for many it is the primary weapon of offence and defense. Expertness in its use cannot be over emphasized.

-- General Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1943.

They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

-- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

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, October 7, 1789

There are going to be situations where people are going to go without assistance. That's just the facts of life.

-- LA Chief of Police, Darryl Gates.

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, October 14, 1789

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, spoken during floor debate over the Second Amendment, I Annals of Congress at 750, August 17, 1789

This declaration of rights, I take it, is intended to secure the people against the maladministration of the Government, if we could suppose that, in all cases, the rights of the people would be attended to, the occasion for guards of this kind would be removed. Now, I am apprehensive, sir, that this clause would give an opportunity to the people in power to destroy the Constitution itself. They can declare who are those religiously scrupulous, and prevent them from bearing arms.

-- Eldridge Gerry, speaking on the 2nd Amendment (1 Annals of Cong. Aug. 17, 1789)

Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest.

-- Mahatma Ghandi

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

...but if 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 use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights...

-- Alexander Hamilton speaking of standing armies in Federalist 29.

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

...for it is a truth, which the experience of all ages has attested, that the people are commonly most in danger when the means of insuring their rights are in the possession of those of whom they entertain the least suspicion.

-- Alexander Hamilton

What the subcommittee on the Constitution uncovered was clear - and long lost - proof that the Second Amendment to our Constitution was intended as an individual right of the American citizen to keep and carry arms in a peaceful manner, for protection of himself, his family, and his freedoms.

-- Senator Orrin Hatch, Chairman, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Preface, "The Right To Keep And Bear Arms"

Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.

-- Patrick Henry, speaking to the Virginia convention for the ratification of the constitution on the necessity of the right to keep and bear arms, 1788. ... 3 J. Elliot, Debates in the Several State Conventions 45, 2d ed. Philadelphia, 1836

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 ... Debates and other Proceedings of the Convention of Virginia, ...taken in shorthand by David Robertson of Petersburg, at 271, 275 (2d ed. Richmond, 1805). Also 3 Elliot, Debates at 386.

...the people have a right to keep and bear arms.

-- Patrick Henry and George Mason, Elliot, Debates at 185

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 ... 3 J. Elliot, Debates in the Several State Conventions 45, 2d ed. Philadelphia, 1836

The battle, Sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, Sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable; and let it come! I repeat, Sir, let it come!

-- Patrick Henry (1736-1799) in his famous "The War Inevitable" speech, March, 1775

It is in vain, Sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace! -- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the North will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that Gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

-- Patrick Henry (1736-1799) in his famous "The War Inevitable" speech, March, 1775

The people of the various provinces are strictly forbidden to have in their possession any swords, bows, spears, firearms, or other types of arms. The possession of these elements makes difficult the collection of taxes and dues, and tends to permit uprising. Therefore, the heads of provinces, official agents, and deputies are ordered to collect all the weapons mentioned above and turn them over to the government.

-- Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Shogun, August 29, 1558, Japan.

Germans who wish to use firearms should join the SS or the SA - ordinary citizens don't need guns, as their having guns doesn't serve the State.

-- Heinrich Himmler

The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subjected people to carry arms, history shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subjected peoples to carry arms have prepared their own fall.

-- Adolph Hitler, Edict of March 18, 1938.

The right of citizens to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible.

-- Senator Hubert H. Humphrey (D-Minnesota)

It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error.

-- Justice Robert H. Jackson

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 invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed.

-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823, The Complete Jefferson, p.322

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 quoting 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccaria in On Crimes and Punishment, 1764

No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. 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.

-- Thomas Jefferson, Proposed Virginia Constitution, June 1776, Jefferson Papers 344

... God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ...And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.

-- Thomas Jefferson ... A quote from Thomas Jefferson in a letter to William S. Smith Nov. 13, 1787. Taken from Jefferson, On Democracy 20, S. Padover ed., 1939

The constitutions of most of our states [and of the United States] assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed and that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of press.

-- Thomas Jefferson

Enlighten people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.

-- Thomas Jefferson

The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.

-- Thomas Jefferson (1774)

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 walk.

-- Encyclopedia of Thomas Jefferson, 318 (Foley, Ed., reissued 1967)

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 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

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, Initiator of the Declaration of Independence, and member of the first Senate, which passed the Bill of Rights ... Walter Bennett, ed., Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republic, at 21, 22, 124 (Univ. of Alabama Press, 1975)

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it.

-- Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861

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 Constitution.

-- Abraham Lincoln

I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.

-- James Madison

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 Annuals of Congress 434 (June 8, 1789).

The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not infringed; a well armed, and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.

-- James Madison, I Annuals of Congress 434 (June 8, 1789) [This was Madison's original proposal for the "Second Amendment"]

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, author of the Bill of Rights, in Federalist Paper No. 46. at 243-244

...the ultimate authority ... resides in the people alone,

-- James Madison, author of the Bill of Rights, in Federalist Paper No. 46.

It is not certain that with this aid alone [possession of arms], they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the people to possess the additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves, who could collect the national will, and direct the national force; and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these governments and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned, in spite of the legions which surround it.

-- James Madison "Federalist No. 46"

A government resting on the minority is an aristocracy, not a Republic, and could not be safe with a numerical and physical force against it, without a standing army, an enslaved press and a disarmed populace.

-- James Madison, The Federalist Papers (No. 46).

I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.

-- George Mason, Framer of the Declaration of Rights, Virginia, 1776, which became the basis for the U.S. Bill of Rights; 3 Elliott, Debates at 425-426, during Virginia's ratification convention, 1788 disarm the people (is) the best and most effective way to enslave them...

-- George Mason, 3 Elliot, Debates at 380

[The American Colonies are] all democratic governments, where the power is in the hands of the people and where there is not the least difficulty or jealousy about putting arms into the hands of every man in the country. [European countries should not] be ignorant of the strength and the force of such a form of government and how strenuously and almost wonderfully people living under one have sometimes exerted themselves in defence of their rights and liberties and how fatally it has ended with many a man and many a state who have entered into quarrels, wars and contests with them.

-- George Mason from "Remarks on Annual Elections for the Fairfax Independent Company" quoted from The Papers of George Mason, 1725-1792 edited by Robert A. Rutland [Chapel Hill, 1970]

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; that standing armies in time of peace should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.

-- George Mason, Article 13 of The Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776

I always marveled at how a woman who had never handled a gun could shoot an errant husband straight through the heart on her first try, with one shot. And a trained policeman, trying to shoot an armed bank robber, only ends up hitting a elderly woman waiting for a bus two blocks away.

-- H.L. Mencken in his autobiographical "Newspaper Days"

The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.

-- John Stuart Mill, "On Liberty" 1859

'The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.' 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 such merely as are used by the militia, shall not be infringed, curtailed, or broken in upon, in the smallest degree; and all this for the important end to be attained: the rearing up and qualifying a well-regulated militia, so vitally necessary to the security of a free State. Our opinion is that any law, State or Federal, is repugnant to the Constitution, and void, which contravenes this right.

-- NUNN v. STATE, 1 Ga. (1 Kel.) 243, at 251 (1846)

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 the use of them...

-- Thomas Paine, Thoughts on Defensive War, 1775; I Writings of Thomas Paine at 56 (1894)

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.

-- Thomas Paine

The prohibition is general. No clause in the Constitution could by rule of construction be conceived to give the Congress the 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, 1825; considered academically to be an expert commentator on the Constitution. He was offered the position of the first Attorney General of the United States, by President Washington.

Democracy, the practice of self-government, is a covenant among free men to respect the rights and liberties of their fellows.

-- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy forget in time that men have died to win them.

-- Franklin D. Roosevelt

The great body of our citizens shoot less as times goes on. We should encourage rifle practice among schoolboys, and indeed among all classes, as well as in the military services by every means in our power. Thus, and not otherwise, may we be able to assist in preserving peace in the world... The first step -- in the direction of preparation to avert war if possible, and to be fit for war if it should come -- is to teach men to shoot!

-- President Theodore Roosevelt's last message to Congress.

My rifle and myself know that what counts in this war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know it is only the hits that count. We will hit...

-- From "My Rifle" by Major General W.H. Rupertus, USMC.

All military type firearms are to be handed in immediately ... The SS, SA and Stahlhelm give every respectable German man the opportunity of campaigning with them. Therefore anyone who does not belong to one of the above named organizations and who unjustifiably nevertheless keeps his weapon ... must be regarded as an enemy of the national government.

-- SA Oberfuhrer of Bad Tolz, March, 1933.

The practical and safe construction is that which must have been in the minds of those who framed our organic law. The intention was to embrace The 'arms,' an acquaintance with whose use was necessary for their protection against the usurpation of illegal power - such as rifles, muskets, shotguns, swords and pistols. These are now but little used in war; still they are such weapons that they or their like can still be considered as 'arms' which the [the people] have a right to bear.

-- STATE v. KERNER; 181 NC 574, 107 SE 222, 224-25 (North Carolina Supreme Court, 1921.)

If the text and purpose of the Constitutional guarantee relied exclusively on the preference for a militia `for defense of the State,' then the terms `arms' most likely would include only the modern day equivalents of the weapons used by the Colonial Militia Men.

-- STATE v. KESSLER, 289 Or. 359, 369, 614 p. 2d 94,99 (Oregon Supreme Court, 1980.)

...we incline to the opinion that the Legislature cannot inhibit the citizen from bearing arms openly, because it authorizes him to bear them for the purposes of defending himself and the State, and it is only when carried openly, that they can be efficiently used for defence.

-- STATE v. REID; 1 Ala. 612, 619, 35 Am. Dec. 47; (1840)

...The right of the people peacefully to assemble for lawful purposes existed long before the adoption of the Constitution of the United States. In fact, it is and always has been one of the attributes of a free government. It 'derives its source,' to use the language of Chief Justice Marshall, in Gibbons v Ogden, 9 Wheat., 211, 'from those laws whose authority is acknowledged by civilized man throughout the world.' It is found wherever civilization exists. It was not, therefore, a right granted to the people by the Constitution... The second and tenth counts are equally defective. The right there specified is that of 'bearing arms for a lawful purpose.' This is not a right granted by the constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second Amendment declares that it shall not infringed; but this, as has been seen, means no more than it shall not be infringed by Congress. This is one of the amendments that has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the National Government...

-- UNITED STATES v. CRUIKSHANK; 92 US 542; (1875)

To prohibit a citizen from wearing or carrying a war arm . . . is an unwarranted restriction upon the constitutional right to keep and bear arms. 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.

-- WILSON v. STATE, 33 Ark. 557, at 560, 34 Am. Rep. 52, at 54 (1878)

Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil influence--They deserve a place of honor with all that's good.

-- George Washington

A free people be armed...

-- George Washington, speech of January 7, 1790 in the Boston Independent Chronicle, January 14, 1790

Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. It is a force, like fire a dangerous servant and a terrible master.

-- George Washington

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 the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States.

-- Noah Webster, "An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution.", 1787; in Paul Ford, ed., Pamphlets on the Constitution of the United States, at 56 (New York, 1888).

Indeed, I am now of the opinion that a compelling case for "stricter gun control" cannot be made, at least not on empirical grounds. I have nothing but respect for the various pro-gun control advocates with whom I have come in contact over the past years. They are, for the most part, sensitive, humane and intelligent people, and their ultimate aim, to reduce death and violence in our society, is one that every civilized person must share. I have, however, come to be convinced that they are barking up the wrong tree.

-- James Wright (scholarly researcher who collaborates with Peter Rossi)