Samuel Adams: “The Constitution (shall) never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.”
— During Massachusetts’ U.S. Constitution Ratification Convention, (1788).
Edmund Burke: “The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.”
— 1784 speech.
Noah Webster: “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…”
— An examination into the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution by the Late Convention (1787).
Benjamin Franklin: “They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
— Historical Review of Pennsylvania, (1759).
Thomas Jefferson: “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”
— Proposed Virginia Constitution (1776,) Jefferson Papers 344, (J. Boyd, ed. 1950).
John Adams: “Arms in the hands of individual citizens may be used at individual discretion… in private self defence.”
— A Defense of the U.S. Constitutions of Government of the United States of America (1787-88).
James Madison: The Constitution preserves “the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation…(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”
— The Federalist #46.
Thomas Paine: “…arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property… Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.”
— Thoughts on Defensive War, (1775).
Thomas Jefferson: “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.”
— Quoting 18th Century criminologist Cesare Beccaria in On Crimes and Punishment (1764).
Richard Henry Lee: “A militia when properly formed is 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…”
— Additional Letters From the Federal Farmer 53 (1788).
George Mason: “I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people…to disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”
— During Virginia’s ratification convention, (1788).
Roy Rogers: “They’ll have to shoot me first to take my gun.”
— Cowboy actor, singer and founder of Roy Rogers restaurants.
Ronald Wilson Reagan: “As long as there are guns, the individual that wants a gun for a crime is going to have one and going to get it. The only person who’s going to be penalized and have difficulty is the law-abiding citizen, who then cannot have [it] if he wants protection — the protection of a weapon in his home, for home protection.”
— 40th U.S. President.
James Earl Jones: “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.”