Everyone on Liberty
- FREDERIC BASTIAT
- "When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society,
they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it
and a moral code that glorifies it."
- CAPTAIN JOHN PARKER (Commander, Lexington
- "Every man of you who is equipped, follow me..Stand your ground. Don't fire unless fired
upon. But if they want to have a war, let it begin here." Lexington, MA, 19 April 1775, as
British troops approached on their march to Concord to implement gun control (Mine Eyes
Have Seen, Goldstein 1997 & Quotes for the Military Writer, U.S.
Army Command Information Unit, Library of HQ TRADOC)
- GEORGE WASHINGTON
- "Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous
servant and a fearful master."
- "If in the opinion of the people the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers
be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the
Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this in one instance
may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are
destroyed." (farewell address)
- "A free people ought not only to be armed but
disciplined..." (Papers of the President, p.65, Richardson, ed)
- THOMAS JEFFERSON
- "Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish
like evil spirits at the dawn of day." (Letter to Du Pont de Nemours 24 April 1816)
- "When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the
government, there is tyranny."
- SAMUEL ADAMS
- "If ye love wealth more than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude greater than the animating
contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council, nor your arms.
Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may your chains set lightly upon you, and
posterity forget that ye were our country men." 1776
- "The liberties of our country,
the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to
them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors:
they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and
transmitted to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the
present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by
violence without a struggle, or be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing
- PATRICK HENRY
- "Millions of people armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which
we possess, are invincible. ...The battle, is not to the strong alone; it is the vigilant, the active, the
brave. ...Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?
Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty
or give me death." Excerpts of speech made before the Virginia House of Burgesses, 1775
- "Are we at last brought to such a humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be
trusted with arms for our own defense?.... 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 use, as in our own
hands?" (3 Elliot, p. 168-9)
- THOMAS PAINE (Author: Common
Sense & The Rights of Man, urged Declaration of Independence)
- "Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of
- "...arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in
awe...Horrid mischief would ensue were the good deprived of the use of them."
- DANIEL WEBSTER (Representative and Senator from New Hampshire, U.S.
Secretary of State
- "Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption for authority. It is hardly too
strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good
intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They
promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters."
- REPRESENTATIVE JOHN RANDOLPH
- "A people who mean to continue free must be prepared to meet danger in person..." (22
Dec 1790, Elliot p.4:411)
- LUTHER MARTIN (Member Continental Congress,
delegate to the Constitutional Convention)
- "...the whole history of mankind proves that so far from parting with the powers actually
delegated to it, government is constantly encroaching on the small pittance of rights reserved by
the people to themselves and gradually wrestling them out of their hands..." (The
Maryland Journal, 28 March 1788)
- WILLIAM PITT
- "Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of
tyrants; it is the creed of slaves." Speech to House of Commons, 1787
- EDMUND BURKE
- "Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who does nothing because he could only do a
- "The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." 1784
- ANDREW JACKSON (Served in Revolutionary Army,
Major General US Army, 17th President)
- "...but a million armed freemen, possessed of the means of war, can never be conquered by
a foreign foe." his first Inaugural Address, 1829 (total popular vote for his election was just over
- "Both Oligarch and Tyrant mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of arms."
(Politics, Aristotle p. 218)
- ABRAHAM LINCOLN
- "The people of the United States are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts,
not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution." (17
September 1859, speech in Cincinnati, OH)
- "To sin by silence when they should
protest makes cowards out of men."
- WILLIAM RAWLE (U.S. Attorney for Pennsylvania, appointed by President
- "No clause in the Constitution could by any rule of construction be conceived to give to
congress a power to disarm the people." (Rawle, A View of the Constitution, p.
- ALBERT EINSTEIN
- "The strength of the Constitution lies entirely in the determination of each citizen to defend
it. Only if every single citizen feels duty bound to do his share in this defense are constitutional
- HUBERT H. HUMPHREY (Senator, Vice
- "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 always possible." (22 October 1959)
- WINSTON CHURCHILL
- "If you will not fight for the right when you can easily win without bloodshed, if you will
not fight when your victory will be sure and not so costly, you may come to the moment when
you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance for survival.
There may be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no chance of victory, because it
is better to perish than to live as slaves."
- REVEREND MARTIN NIEMOLLER (arrested by the Gestapo in 1937)
- "In Germany, they first came for the communist, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a
communist. Then, they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew...Then
they came for the Catholics. I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for
me, and there was no one left to speak up."
- FREDERICK DOUGLASS (U.S. Marshal, son of a slave)
out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and
wrong which will be imposed upon them; ...The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance
of those whom they oppress." 1857
- DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
- "A right delayed is a right denied."
- JOSEPH STORY (Supreme Court Justice)
- "The militia is the natural defense of a free country against sudden foreign invasions,
domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpation of power by rulers. The right of the citizens to
keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of the republic;
since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will
generally...enable the people to resist and triumph over them." (Story, Commentaries on
the Constitution of the United States, p.3:746-7, 1833)
- WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT (27th President, Chief Justice US Supreme
- "Constitutions are checks upon the hasty action of the majority. They are self imposed
restraints of a whole people upon a majority of them to secure sober action and a respect for the
rights of the minority." (22 August 1911)
- WILLIAM O. DOUGLAS (Supreme Court Justice
- "As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a
twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such a twilight that we all
must be most aware of change in the air-- however slight-- lest we become the unwitting victims
of the darkness."
- "Fear of assassination often produces restraints compatible with dictatorship, not
- HUGO BLACK (Supreme Court Justice, U.S. Senator)
- "I cannot
agree with those who think of the Bill of Rights as an 18th century straitjacket, unsuited for this
age...The evils it guards against are not only old, they are with us now, they exist today."
(The Great Rights, Cahn '63, p 44-45)
- GEORGE SUTHERLAND (Supreme Court Justice)
- "For the saddest epitaph which can be carved in memory of a vanished freedom is that it
was lost because its possessors failed to stretch forth a saving hand while there was still
- LOUIS BRANDEIS (Supreme Court Justice)
- "Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear
political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty." (Whitney v. California,
- "Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the
government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion
of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious
encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding." (Olmstead v. United
- ANTONIN SCALIA (Supreme Court Justice)
- "It would be strange to find in the midst of a catalog of the rights of individuals a provision
securing to the states the right to maintain a designated 'Militia.' Dispassionate scholarship
suggests quite strongly that the right of the people to keep and bear arms meant just that . There
is no need to deceive ourselves as to what the original Second Amendment said and meant."
A Matter of Interpretation: Federal Courts and the Law, Princeton University
- "[T]hey [the Founders] feared that some future generation might wish to abandon liberties
that they considered essential, and so sought to protect those liberties in a Bill of Rights."
A Matter of Interpretation
- "The Constitution Protects us from our own
best intentions." (U.S. v. Printz, 1977)
- CLARENCE THOMAS (Supreme Court Justice)
- "The Second Amendment similarly appears to contain an express limitation on the
government's authority. If the Second Amendment is read to confer a personal right to 'keep and
bear arms,' a colorable argument exists that the Federal Government's regulatory scheme, at least
as it pertains to possession of firearms, runs afoul of that amendment's protections" (U.S.
v. Printz, 1997)
- EARL WARREN (former Supreme Court Chief
- "Today, as always, the people, no less than the courts, must remain vigilant to preserve the
principals of our Bill of Rights, lest in our desire to be secure we lose our ability to be free."
(James Madison Lecture, NY University, 1962)
- DAVID KOPEL (Civil Rights Attorney)
- "They will never outlaw all of your guns at once. But every 'reasonable' control they can
impose without your resistance gives them one more bit of leverage to make gun ownership for
you and your children and your grandchildren as difficult as possible."
- REBECCA WYATT (Founder of Safety for Women and Responsible
- "The advice on self-defense that I received after [my] assault was 'Don't get a gun. It will
only add to the violence.' Never having been exposed to guns before, this seemed to make sense
-- until I was attacked again."
- SHERIFF RICHARD MACK (Sheriff
of Graham County, AZ; filed suit challenging Constitutionality of the Brady Law)
- "...the only background check I'd support is one on politicians."
- LIEUTENANT LOWELL DUCKETT (Pres., Black Police Caucus, Special
Assistant to Washington, D.C. Police Chief)
- "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 and Wesson than to dial 911 if you're being robbed." The Washington
- MAHATMA GANDHI
- "Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India, history will look upon the Act
depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest." (My Autobiography, p.
- TENCH COXE
- "What should we think of a gentleman, who, upon hiring a waiting-man, should say to him
'my friend, please take notice, before we come together, that I shall always claim the liberty of
eating when and what I please, of fishing and hunting upon my own ground, of keeping as many
horses and hounds as I can maintain, and of speaking and writing any sentiments upon all
subjects.' (A) master reserves to himself...every thing else which he has not committed to the
care of those servants." [editor's translation: Bill of Rights not needed; repetitive]
- CESARE BECCARIA
- "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; ...The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They
disarm those only who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Can it be supposed
that those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity, the most important
of the code, will respect the less important and arbitrary ones, which can be violated with ease
and impunity, and which, if strictly obeyed, would put an end to personal liberty -- so dear to
men, ...and subject innocent persons to all the vexations that the guilty alone ought to suffer?
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. They ought to be designated as laws not preventive but fearful of
crimes, produced by the tumultuous impression of a few isolated facts, and not by thoughtful
consideration of the inconveniences and advantages of a universal decree." On Crime and
Punishment, p.145 (1819) originally published in 1764
BURGH (18th Century English Libertarian
- "...most attractive to Americans, the possession of arms is the distinction between a freeman
and a slave, it being the ultimate means by which freedom was to be preserved." (Shalhope,
The Ideological Origins of the Second Amendment, p.604)
- DR. SUZANNE GRATIA (Texas State
- "I blame the deaths of my parents on those legislators who deny me my right to defend
myself." (Both her parents and 20 others were killed by a mad man in the Luby's Cafeteria in
Killeen, TX, 1991. TX law prevented her from carrying her handgun into the restaurant, so she
left it in the car)
- JOHN STUART MILL
- "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of
moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who
has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares about more than his own personal
safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the
exertions of better men than himself."
- THEODORE ROSEVELT
- "Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checked by
failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because
they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."
- THE TALMUD
- "Who can protest an injustice but does not is an accomplice in the act."
- EDWARD ABBEY
- "The tank, the B-52, the fighter-bomber, the state controlled police are the weapons of
dictatorship. The rifle is the weapon of democracy....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."