Arms & Sparks: A Few Thoughts for the Fourth

A few thoughts from history on Independence and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms:

“Both oligarch and tyrant mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of arms.” — Aristotle

cropped-patriotic-symbol-discount-active-duty.jpg“The right of self-defense 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 when the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.” — Henry St. George Tucker (in Blackstone’s Commentaries)

“The people of the various provinces are strictly forbidden to have in their possession any swords, short swords, bows, spears, firearms, or other types of arms. The possession of unnecessary implements makes difficult the collection of taxes and dues and tends to foment uprisings.”– Toyotomi Hideyoshi, dictator of Japan, August 1588

… Of Such a Nature

“False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes.”– Cesare Beccaria, as quoted by Thomas Jefferson’s Commonplace book

“No kingdom can be secured otherwise than by arming the people. The possession of arms is the distinction between a freeman and a slave.” — “Political Disquisitions”, a British republican tract of 1774-1775

“To disarm the people… was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” — George Mason, speech of June 14, 1788

IMG0021The Right and Advantage

“Americans have the right and advantage of being armed – unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”– James Madison, The Federalist Papers

“The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed.”– Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers at 184-188

“Militias, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves and include all men capable of bearing arms. […] 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.”– Senator Richard Henry Lee, 1788, on “militia” in the 2nd Amendment

Wisdom, Sparks, and Celebration

Thus, the wisdom of the Framers of our Constitution in recognizing the right to keep and bear arms as an unalienable right whose source and scope is beyond government.

Lest we forget, the spark that ignited the War of Independence was when British troops were ordered to seize the local armories of weapons and ammunition at Lexington and Concord.  How great a spark!

As we celebrate our independence this 4th of July, let’s not forget the price so many paid and continue to pay to secure the blessings of liberty – including the right to keep and bear arms.

Happy Fourth!


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