As the current debates rage regarding gun control in our states, the arguments run the gamut. People desiring additional restrictions on gun ownership claim that the Founders had no inkling that “weapons of war” would become prolific on our streets and in society. The Founders obviously only thought muskets would be the weapons of the future. (Although muskets were obviously the “weapons of war” of the time). Those who desire no new restrictions and a roll-back of current restrictions point to the use of guns in “self-defense” situations, many not requiring any shots to be fired. Both sides point to Supreme Court decisions and find a basis for their positions and quote Justices for support.
The fact is that the Founders were not primarily concerned with hunting or individual self-defense. They were concerned with the Common Defense. They understood that a well-regulated, trained, and ready militia was the only deterrent to tyranny. They abhorred the idea of a standing army. Many “gun control” laws of the Colonies and Early America were targeted towards blacks and American Indians. Whites understood that if oppressed peoples were able to get armed and trained, they could not be subdued. This is a perfect example of tyranny, and why tyrants need to disarm populations. This is why it is particularly important for black Americans to understand the history of gun control in this country.
Today with a standing army well-implaced and a more than century-long neglect of the militia, most Americans don’t really understand the purpose OR THE NEED to protect against tyranny. Even though the benevolence of the government is questioned by most people in differing circumstances, in their mind the solution for governmental abuse is, irrationally, more government. If only we can elect “our person”, then we can change the government.
Below are quotes from many of the Founders of this Nation. Read them in their own words and decide for yourself whether an Armed Militia is the last line of defense for a Free People.
“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 band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States.”~ Noah Webster
“O sir, we should have fine times, indeed, if, to punish tyrants, it were only sufficient to assemble the people! Your arms, wherewith you could defend yourselves, are gone; and you have no longer an aristrocratical, no longer a democratical spirit. Did you ever read of any revolution in a nation, brought about by the punishment of those in power, inflicted by those who had no power at all?”~ Patrick Henry
“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.”Representative Elbridge Gerry, Massachussets
“A people who would stand fast in their liberty, should furnish themselves with weapons proper for their defence, and learn the use of them. It is indeed an hard case, that those who are happy in the blessings of providence, and disposed to live peaceably with all men, should be obliged to keep up the idea of blood and slaughter, and expend their time and treasure to acquire the arts and instruments of death. But this is a necessity which the depravity of human nature has laid upon every state. Nor was there ever a people that continued, for any considerable time, in the enjoyment of liberty, who were not in a capacity to defend themselves against invaders, unless they were too poor and inconsiderable to tempt an enemy.”~ Simeon Howard
“For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security.”~ Thomas Jefferson
“Always remember that an armed and trained militia is the firmest bulwark of republics – that without standing armies their liberty can never be in danger, nor with large ones safe.”~ James Madison
“A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves…and include all men capable of bearing arms.”~ Richard Henry Lee
“The ultimate authority…resides in the people alone…The advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation…forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition.”~ James Madison
“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
“The Constitutions of most of our states assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, both fact and law, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person; freedom of religion; freedom of property; and freedom of the press.”~ Thomas Jefferson
“The safety of these States and everything dear to a free people must depend in an eminent degree on the militia…This arrangement should be formed, too, in time of peace, to be the better prepared for war.”~ James Madison
“The militia is the natural defense of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace both from the enormous expenses with which they are attended and the facile means which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers to subvert the government or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of a republic since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers and will generally even if these are successful the first instance enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”~Justice Joseph Story