Quotes of Interest to Fans of the Second Amendment
compiled by Donald Ray Burger
Attorney at Law

Quote from 1866

No man's life, liberty or property are safe
while the legislature is in session.
Judge Gideon J. Tucker
New York, 1866.

Quote from 1776

Among the natural rights of the colonists are these:
first, a right to life;
second, to liberty;
thirdly, to property;
together with the right to support and defend them
in the best manner they can.
Samuel Adams,
"The Rights of the Colonists," August, 1776

Quote from 1787

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. . . ."
Richard Henry Lee
Letters from the Federalist Farmer, 1787

Quote from 1803

Wherever . . . the right of the people
to keep and bear arms is,
under any color or pretext whatsoever,
liberty, if not already annihilated,
is on the brink of destruction.
St. George Tucker
Blackstone's Commentaries: With Notes and Reference, Volume I, 1803

Quote from 1833

The right of the citizens
to keep and bear arms
has justly been considered
as a 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 in the first instance,
enable the people to resist
and triumph over them. . . .
Joseph Story
Commentaries on the United States Constitution, Volume III, 1833.

Quote from circa 1787

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.
Noah Webster
An Examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution in
Pamphlets on the Constitution of the United States, P. Ford, editor. 1888.

Quote from 1789

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 power
to the injury of their fellow-citizens,
the people are confirmed by the next article
in their right
to keep and bear their private arms.
James Madison
Philadelphia Evening Post, June 18, 1789

Quote from 1898

The right is general.
It may be supposed from the phraseology of this provision
that the right to keep and bear arms
was only guaranteed to the militia;
but this would be an interpretation not warranted by the intent.
The militia, as has been explained elsewhere,
consists of those persons who, under the law,
are liable to the performance of military duty,
and are officered and enrolled for service
when called upon. . . .
[I]f the right were limited to those enrolled,
the purpose of the guarantee might be defeated altogether
by the action or the neglect to act
of the government it was meant to hold in check.
The meaning of the provision undoubtedly is,
that the people, from whom the militia must be taken,
shall have the right to keep and bear arms,
and they need no permission or regulation of law
for that purpose.
Thomas Cooley
General Principles of Constitutional Law, Third Edition, 1898

Quote from 1651

One sword keeps another
in the sheath.
George Herbert
Jacula Prudentum, 1651.

Quote from 1737

And I cannot see, why arms
should be denied to any man
who is not a slave,
since they are the only true
badges of liberty.
Andrew Fletcher
A Discourse of Government with Relation to Militias, 1737

Quote from 63-65 A.D.

A sword never kills anybody;
it's a tool in the killer's hand.
Seneca (the Younger)
Letters to Lucilius, circa 63-65 A.D.

Quote from 1930

It will be of little avail to the people,
that the laws are made
by men of their own choice,
if the laws be so voluminous
that they cannot be read,
or so incoherent
that they cannot be understood.
James Truslow Adams
The Adams Family, 1930

Quote from 1787

The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions,
that I wish it to be always kept alive.
It will often be exercised when wrong
but better so than not to be exercised at all.
Thomas Jefferson
Letter to Abigail Adams, February 22, 1787

Quote from 1920

The Bill of Rights is a born rebel.
It reeks with sedition.
In every clause it shakes its fist in the face of constituted authority.
Frank I. Cobb
LaFollette's Magazine, January, 1920

Quote from 1859

I went to the store the other day
to buy a bolt for our front door,
for, as I told the storekeeper,
the Governor was coming here.
"Aye," said he, "and the Legislature too."
"Then I will take two bolts," said I.
Henry David Thoreau
Journal, September 8, 1859

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