|He that suffers his life to be taken from
him by one that hath no authority for
that purpose, when he might preserve
it by defense, incurs the guilt of self
murder since God hath enjoined him to
seek the continuance of his life, and
nature itself teaches every creature to
A Sermon, Philadelphia, 1747
|The Intent of the Founding Fathers
Thomas Jefferson, commenting on how the
Constitution should properly be read.
* On every question of construction 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 can be squeezed out of
the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one which was
Richard Henry Lee.
* A militia when properly formed are in fact the people themselves and
render regular troops in great measure unnecessary. -----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---.
* No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.
* The great object is, that every man be armed.
* 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, ..in the hands of the people.
* The people are confirmed by the ..article [of amendment] in their
right to keep and bear their private arms.
* The peaceable part of mankind will be continually overrun by the vile
and abandoned while they neglect the means of self-defence. ..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. ..the weak
will become prey to the strong.
* Arms in the hands of citizens [may] be used at individual discretion ..
in private self-defence.
* To disarm the people [is] the best and most effectual way to enslave
* The people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in
full possession of them.
|Return to main page