Quotes on Firearms

A man cannot lay down the right of resisting them that assault him by force, to take away his life.

— Thomas Hobbes

A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer’s hand.

— Lucius Annaeus Seneca

There are no dangerous weapons. There are only dangerous men.

— Robert Heinlein

This [Second Amendment] may be considered as the true palladium of liberty…. The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction. In England, the people have been disarmed, generally, under the specious pretext of preserving the game: a never failing lure to bring over the landed aristocracy to support any measure, under that mask, though calculated for very different purposes. True it is, their bill of rights seems at first view to counteract this policy: but the right of bearing arms is confined to protestants, and the words suitable to their condition and degree, have been interpreted to authorise the prohibition of keeping a gun or other engine for the destruction of game, to any farmer, or inferior tradesman, or other person not qualified to kill game. So that not one man in five hundred can keep a gun in his house without being subject to a penalty.

— St George Tucker

If gun laws in fact worked, the sponsors of this type of legislation should have no difficulty drawing upon long lists of examples of crime rates reduced by such legislation. That they cannot do so after a century and a half of trying — that they must sweep under the rug the southern attempts at gun control in the 1870-1910 period, the northeastern attempts in the 1920-1939 period, and the attempts at both Federal and State levels in 1965-1976 — establishes the repeated, complete, and inevitable failure of gun laws to control serious crime.

— Senator Orrin Hatch

I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence. Thus when my eldest son asked me what he should have done, had he been present when I was almost fatally assaulted in 1908, whether he should have run away and seen me killed or whether he should have used his physical force which he could and wanted to use, and defended me, I told him that it was his duty to defend me even by using violence.

— Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

One loves to possess arms, though they hope never to have occasion for them.

— Thomas Jefferson

God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it.

— Daniel Webster

It is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks. It is legal and lawful to own a shotgun or a rifle. We believe in obeying the law.

— Malcolm X

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

The congress of the United States possesses no power to regulate, or interfere with the domestic concerns, or police of any state: it belongs not to them to establish any rules respecting the rights of property; nor will the constitution permit any prohibition of arms to the people.

— St. George Tucker

The Constitution of the United States of America clearly affirms the right of every American citizen to bear arms. And as Americans, we will not give up a single right guarenteed under the Constitution. The history of unpunished violence against our people clearly indicates that we must be prepared to defend ourselves or we will continue to be a defenseless people at the mercy of a ruthless and violent racist mob.

— Malcolm X

The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able might have a gun.

— Patrick Henry

Dogs could not be used in the streets in the manner many Jews were treated. One circumstance among others put an end to the ill-usage of the Jews. About the year 1787 Daniel Mendoza, a Jew, became a celebrated boxer and set up a school to teach the art of boxing as a science. The art soon spread among young Jews and they became generally expert at it. The consequence was in a very few years seen and felt too. It was no longer safe to insult a Jew unless he was an old man and alone. But even if the Jews were unable to defend themselves, the few who would now be disposed to insult them merely because they are Jews, would be in danger of chastisement from the passers-by and of punishment from the police.

— Francis Place

Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. … 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 proven to be possible.

— Hubert H. Humphrey

Congress shall never disarm any citizen unless such as are or have been in actual rebellion.

— James Madison

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 walks.

— Thomas Jefferson

No kingdom can be secured otherwise than by arming the people. The possession of arms is the distinction between a freeman and a slave. He, who has nothing, and who himself belongs to another, must be defended by him, whose property he is, and needs no arms. But he, who thinks he is his own master, and has what he can call his own, ought to have arms to defend himself, and what he possesses; else he lives precariously, and at discretion. And though for a while, those, who have the sword in their power, abstain from doing him injury, yet by degrees he will be awed into submission to every arbitrary command. Our ancestors” [the Caledonii, see Tacit. &c.] “by being always armed, and frequently in action, defended themselves against the Romans, Danes and English, and maintained their liberty against the incroachments of their own princes.

— James Burgh, Political Disquisitions: Or, an Enquiry into Public Errors, Defects, and Abuses (London, 1774-1775)

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!

— Theodore Roosevelt

Oppressors can tyrannize only when they achieve a standing army, an enslaved press, and a disarmed populace.

— James Madison

They’ll have to shoot me first to take my gun.

— Roy Rogers

The framers gave us the Second Amendment not so we could go deer or duck hunting but to give us a modicum of protection against congressional tyranny.

— Walter Williams

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

There exists a law, not written down anywhere, but inborn in our hearts; a law which comes to us not by training or custom or reading; a law which has come to us not from theory but from practice, not by instruction but by natural intuition. I refer to the law which lays it down that, if our lives are endangered by plots or violence or armed robbers or enemies, any and every method of protecting ourselves is morally right.

— Marcus Tullius Cicero

Laws disarming honest citizens proclaim that the government is the master, not the servant, of the people.

— Jeffrey R. Snyder, A Nation of Cowards

The prohibition is general. No clause in the Constitution could by any rule of construction be conceived to give to congress a power to disarm the people. Such a flagitious attempt could only be made under some general pretence by a state legislature. But if in any blind pursuit of inordinate power, either should attempt it, this amendment (Second Amendment) may be appealed to as a restraint on both.

— William Rawle

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… Did you ever read of any revolution in a nation… inflicted by those who had no power at all?

— Patrick Henry

For we may not think ever to keep that people in subjection which hath always lived in liberty, if they be not disarmed.

— Jean Bodin

Arms in the hands of citizens (may) be used at individual discretion…in private self defense…

— John Adams

Tyranny derives from the oligarchy’s “mistrust of the people; hence they deprive them of arms, ill-treat the lower class, and keep them from residing in the capital. These are common to oligarchy and tyranny.

— Aristotle

Today’s liberals wish to disarm us so they can run their evil and oppressive agenda on us. The fight against crime is just a convenient excuse to further their agenda. I don’t know about you, but if you hear that Williams’ guns have been taken, you’ll know Williams is dead.

— Walter Williams

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.

— Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Gandhi, An Autobiography (Page 446).

But if someone has a gun and is trying to kill you … it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.

— Tenzin Gyatso, The 14th Dalai Lama

After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.

— William Burroughs, 1992

Among other evils which being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised.

— Niccolò Machiavelli

People who object to weapons aren’t abolishing violence, they’re begging for rule by brute force, when the biggest, strongest animals among men were always automatically ‘right.’ Guns ended that, and social democracy is a hollow farce without an armed populace to make it work.

— L. Neil Smith

The world is filled with violence. Because criminals carry guns, we decent law-abiding citizens should also have guns. Otherwise they will win and the decent people will lose.

— James Earl Jones

The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand arms, like laws, discourage and keep the invader and 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 of the use of them.

— Thomas Paine

Gun control has not worked in D.C. The only people who have guns are criminals. We have the strictest gun laws in the nation and one of the highest murder rates. It’s quicker to pull your Smith & Wesson than to dial 911 if you’re being robbed.

— Lieutenant Lowell Duckett

An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life.

— Robert Heinlein

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.

— Thomas Jefferson

The danger (where there is any) from armed citizens, is only to the government, not to the society; as long as they have nothing to revenge in the government (which they cannot have while it is in their own hands) there are many advantages in their being accustomed to the use of arms and no possible disadvantage.

— Joel Barlow

Without either the first or second amendment, we would have no liberty; the first allows us to find out what’s happening, the second allows us to do something about it! The second will be taken away first, followed by the first and then the rest of our freedoms.

— Andrew Ford

By calling attention to a well-regulated militia for the security of the Nation, and the right of each citizen to keep and bear arms, our founding fathers recognized the essentially civilian nature of our economy. Although it is extremely unlikely that the fear of governmental tyranny, which gave rise to the 2nd amendment, will ever be a major danger to our Nation, the amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic military-civilian relationship, in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of his country. For that reason I believe the 2nd Amendment will always be important.

— John F. Kennedy

Americans have the will to resist because you have weapons. If you don’t have a gun, freedom of speech has no power.

— Yoshimi Ishikawa

The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles.

— Jeff Cooper, Art of the Rifle

As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people 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 article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.

— Tench Coxe

The Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms.

— Samuel Adams

To prohibit the citizen from wearing or carrying a war arm, except upon his own premises or when on a journey traveling through the country with baggage, or when acting as or in aid of an officer, is an unwarranted restriction upon his 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 a constitutional privilege.

— Wilson v. State, 33 Ark. 557, 34 Am. Rep. 52 (1878).

The tank, the B-52, the fighter-bomber, the state controlled police and the military are the weapons of dictatorship. The rifle is the weapon of democracy. Not for nothing was the revolver called an ‘equalizer.’ Egalite implies liberte. And always will. Let us hope our weapons are never needed –but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny.

— Edward Abbey

You see in this world there’s two kinds of people my friend, those with loaded guns, and those who dig … you dig!

— Joe

That rifle on the wall of the labourer’s cottage or working class flat is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.

— George Orwell

Some princes, so as to hold securely the state, have disarmed their subjects…. But when you disarm them, you commence to offend them and show that you distrust them either through cowardice or lack of confidence, and both of these opinions generate hatred against you. And because the government cannot remain unarmed, it follows that the government turns to hired police. Therefore a wise prince has always distributed arms to the general population.

— Niccolò Machiavelli

If those in government are heedless of reason, the people must patiently submit to Bondage, or stand upon their own Defence; which if they are enabled to do, they shall never be put upon it, but their Swords may grow rusty in their hands; for that Nation is surest to live in Peace, that is most capable of making War; and a Man that hath a Sword by his side, shall have least occasion to make use of it.

— J. Trenchard & W. Moyle

If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government –and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws.

— Edward Abbey

It is also in the interests of a tyrant to keep his people poor, so that they may not be able to afford the cost of protecting themselves by arms and be so occupied with their daily tasks that they have no time for rebellion.

— Aristotle

A principal source of errors and injustice are false ideas of utility. For example: that legislator has false ideas of utility who considers particular more than general conveniences, who had rather command the sentiments of mankind than excite them, and dares say to reason, `Be thou a slave’; who would sacrifice a thousand real advantages to the fear of an imaginary or trifling inconvenience; who would deprive men of the use of fire for fear of their being burnt, and of water for fear of their being drowned; and who knows of no means of preventing evil but by destroying it.

The laws of this nature are those which forbid to wear arms, disarming those only who are not disposed to commit the crime which the laws mean to prevent. Can it be supposed, that those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity, and the most important of the code, will respect the less considerable and arbitrary injunctions, the violation of which is so easy, and of so little comparative importance? Does not the execution of this law deprive the subject of that personal liberty, so dear to mankind and to the wise legislator? And does it not subject the innocent to all the disagreeable circumstances that should only fall on the guilty? It certainly makes the situation of the assaulted worse, and of the assailants better, and rather encourages than prevents murder, as it requires less courage to attack unarmed than armed persons.

— Cesare Beccaria, Of Crimes and Punishments

Both oligarch and tyrant mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of their arms.

— Aristotle

To make inexpensive guns impossible to get is to say that you’re putting a money test on getting a gun. It’s racism in its worst form.

— Roy Innis

A woman who demands further gun control legislation is like a chicken who roots for Colonel Sanders.

— Larry Elder

No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms.

— Thomas Jefferson, Draft Constitution for Virginia (June 1776)

How we burned in the prison camps later thinking: What would things have been like if every police operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive? If during periods of mass arrests people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever was at hand? The organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt.

— Alexander Solzhenitsyn

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

— Patrick Henry,George Mason

Without doubt one is allowed to resist against the unjust aggressor to one’s life, one’s goods or one’s physical integrity; sometimes, even ’til the aggressor’s death…. In fact, this act is aimed at preserving one’s life or one’s goods and to make the aggressor powerless. Thus, it is a good act, which is the right of the victim.

— Thomas Aquinas

The people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them.

— Zachariah Johnston, June 25, 1788, Virginia Constitutional Ratification Convention