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...Self Defense

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

Resolutions of the State of New Hampshire
June 21, 1788

That the people have a right to keep and bear arms: that a well regulated militia composed of the body on the people trained to arms, is the proper, natural and safe defence of a free state.

Resolutions of the State of Virginia

Zachariah Johnson

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

Virginia Convention
June 25, 1788

Mercy Otis Warren

Self defence is a primary law of nature, which no subsequent law of society can abolish.

“A Columbian Patriot”
February 1788

The principle circumstances, which render liberty secure, are a spirit of liberty among the people – a general diffusion of knowledge – a general distribution of property – a militia of freemen – and a fair representation in the supreme Legislature...It is a capital circumstance in favour of our liberty, that the people themselves are the military power of our country. In countries under arbitrary government, the people oppressed and dispirited, neither possess arms nor know how to use them. Tyrants never feel secure, until they have disarmed the people. They can rely upon nothing but standing armies of mercenary troops for the support of their power. But the people of this country have arms in their hands...This is a circumstance which encreases the power and consequence of the people; and enables them to defend their rights and privileges against every invader.

“The Republican”
Connecticut Courant
Hartford, Connecticut,
January 7, 1788

That the people have a right to bear arms for the defence of themselves and their own states, or the United States, or for the purpose of killing game; 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...

Dissent of the Minority of the
Pennsylvania Convention
Pennsylvania Packet (Philadelphia),
December 18, 1787

James Madison

Besides the advantage of being armed, which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprizes of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.

The Federalist XLVI
New York Packet,
January 29, 1788

That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well regulated militia, including the body of the people capable of bearing arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defence of a free state.

Convention of the State of
New York Resolutions and
Ratification of the Constitution
September 17, 1787

Noah Webster

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 body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States.

“A Citizen of America”
October 17, 1787

John Adams

Resistance to sudden violence, for the preservation not only of my person, my limbs and life, but of my property, is an indisputable right of nature which I never surrendered to the public by the compact of society, and which, perhaps, I could not surrender if I would.

On Private Revenge #3
September 5, 1768

James Madison the several kingdoms of Europe...the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.

The Federalist XLVI
New York Packet,
January 29, 1788