Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Thoughts on firearms from the Revolution

George Mason's Fairfax County Militia Plan, 1775:
"And we do each of us, for ourselves respectively, promise and engage to keep a good firelock in proper order, & to furnish ourselves as soon as possible with, & always keep by us, one pound of gunpowder, four pounds of lead, one dozen gunflints, & a pair of bullet moulds, with a cartouch box, or powder horn, and bag for balls."

Patrick Henry, 1775:
"They tell us that we are weak -- unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Three million people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us."


Samuel Adams:
"Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: first, a right to life, secondly to liberty, thirdly to property; together with the right to defend them in the best manner they can."

John Adams:
"Arms in the hands of the citizens may be used at individual discretion for the defense of the country, the overthrow of tyranny or private self-defense."

Patrick Henry:
"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined. The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able may have a gun."

Noah Webster, 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 of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops."

Tench Coxe, writing as "the Pennsylvanian" in the Philadelphia Federal Gazette, 1788:
"The power of the sword, say the minority of Pennsylvania, is in the hands of Congress. My friends and countrymen, it is not so, for the powers of the sword are in the hands of the yeomanry of America from 16 to 60. The militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible. 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 has 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 where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people."

Connecticut gun code of 1650:
"All persons shall bear arms, and every male person shall have in continual readiness a good muskitt or other gunn, fitt for service."

Article 3 of the West Virginia state constitution:"A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and state, and for lawful hunting and recreational use."

Virginia Declaration of Rights 13 (June 12, 1776), drafted by George Mason:
"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."

A proposed amendment to the Federal Constitution, as passed by the Pennsylvania legislature:"That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and their own states or the United States, or for the purpose of killing game; and no law shall be passed for disarming the people or any of them, unless for crimes committed, or real danger of public injury from individuals."

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