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Discussion Starter #1
There are many points of argument and counter argument about the second amendment. However one I have encountered quite often that can easily be defeated with REALITY is simply looking back at the original intent of the framers of our Constitution, who spoke and wrote extensive on this subject.

I have attached a PDF to this thread which I created (via Word) for anyone wanting a reference or to bring to the table of public discussion else were.

Note that this compilation is of cited sources ONLY. There are some "fake quotes" out there that make proponents of the second amendment look ignorant and they are often the focus of the counter arguments used to invalidate a pro-second amendment viewpoint.

I went to war on this debate topic with one intent, to decimate my adversaries arguments and leave no counter argument left alive. Weather one agrees with the framers of our constitution is another debate alltogether, but as to what they said and what they meant in the language there of, it is expounded upon quite extensively as you will see.

My introduction is a shorter collection to set the stage for longer and more detailed reads from the various members who were the most vocal on the subject.

Your American Heritage (this particular set of information I have used as an introduction was originally compiled by the owners of "Speed Sights", while not exhaustive, it served as an excellent starting point)

How do we know what the Founders really intended for this to mean?
"On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed"
- Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823, The Complete Jefferson, p322

"That the said Constitution shall never be construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms..."
- Samuel Adams, Debates & Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 86-87.

"And that the said Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress... to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms,"
- Philadelphia Independent Gazetteer, August 20, 1789

"...if raised, whether they could subdue a Nation of freemen, who know how to prize liberty, and who have arms in their hands?"
- (Delegate Sedgwick, during the Massachusetts Convention, rhetorically asking if an oppressive standing army could prevail, Johnathan Elliot, ed., Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Vol.2 at 97 (2d ed., 1888))
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Does the Second Amendment's reference to "the people" refer to a collective or individual right?

"Last Monday a string of amendments were presented to the lower house; these altogether respect personal liberty."
- Senator William Grayson of Virginia in a letter to Patrick Henry

"The whole of the Bill [of Rights] is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals...It establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of."
- Albert Callatin of the New York Historical Society, October 7, 1789

"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."
- James Burgh, Political Disquisitions: Or, an Enquiry into Public Errors, Defects, and Abuses [London, 1774- 1775]

Is the "Militia" the same as the National Guard?

"A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves...and include all men capable of bearing arms."
- Richard Henry Lee, Additional Letters from the Federal Farmer (1788) at 169

"I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials."
- George Mason, 3 Elliott, Debates at 425-426

"What, sir, is the use of a militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty…Whenever Governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins."
- Rep Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts [ I Annals of Congress at 750 {August 17, 1789}]

"The right of the people to keep and bear arms…shall not be infringed. A well regulated militia, composed of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country."
- James Madison, I Annals of Congress 434 (June 8, 1789)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Is the right to keep and bear arms about hunting and target shooting?

"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."
- Richard Henry Lee, 1788, Initiator of the Declaration of Independence, and member of the first Senate, which passed the Bill of Rights, Walter Bennett, ed., Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republican, at 21,22,124 (Univ. of Alabama Press,1975)

"…to disarm the people – that was the best and most effectual way to enslave them."
- George Mason, 3 Elliot, Debates at 380

"As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly 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 in "Remarks on the First Part of the Amendments to the Federal Constitution," Under the pseudonym "A Pennsylvanian" in the Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789 at 2 col. 2

"The right of the people to keep and bear arms has been recognized by the General Government; but the best security of that right after all is, the military spirit, that taste for martial exercises, which has always distinguished the free citizens of these States...Such men form the best barrier to the liberties of America,"
- Gazette of the United States, October 14, 1789

"Congress has no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American... The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state government, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people"
- Tench Coxe, Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788

"The great object is that every man be armed” and “everyone who is able may have a gun."
- Patrick Henry, in the Virginia Convention on the ratification of the Constitution. Debates and other Proceedings of the Convention of Virginia,...taken in shorthand by David Robertson of Petersburg, at 271, 275 2d ed. Richmond, 1805. Also 3 Elliot, Debates at 386

"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 #46 at 243-244

"The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed"
- Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers at 184-8

"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, Encyclopedia of T. Jefferson, 318 (Foley, Ed, reissued 1967)

"...the people have a right to keep and bear arms."
- Patrick Henry and George Mason, Elliot, Debates at 185

"No Free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms"
- Thomas Jefferson, Proposal Virginia Constitution , 1 T. Jefferson Papers, 334 ( C. J. Boyd, Ed., 1950)

"The people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in full possession of them."
- Zachariah Johnson, 3 Elliot, Debates at 646

"The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion." - Edmund Burke, Speech at a County Meeting of Buckinghamshire (1784)

"the ultimate authority ... resides in the people alone,"
- James Madison, author of the Bill of Rights, in Federalist Paper #463

"Those, who have the command of the arms in a country are masters of the state, and have it in their power to make what revolutions they please. [Thus,] there is no end to observations on the difference between the measures likely to be pursued by a minister backed by a standing army, and those of a court awed by the fear of an armed people."
- Aristotle, as quoted by John Trenchard and Water Moyle, An Argument Shewing, That a Standing Army Is Inconsistent with a Free Government, and Absolutely Destructive to the Constitution of the English Monarchy [London, 1697]
 

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Discussion Starter #4
THOMAS JEFFERSON
"I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." - Excerpted from a letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush, September 23, 1800.

“The laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those 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...will respect the less important and arbitrary ones... 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.”
- Quoted from Enlightenment philosopher Cesare Beccaria’s On Crimes and Punishment, 1764; translated by Jefferson and copied into his Commonplace Book of great quotations.

“No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms [within his own lands or tenements].”
- Draft Constitution for Virginia; June 13, 1776 (brackets in Jefferson’s original)

“Every able bodied freeman, between the ages of 16 and 50, is enrolled in the militia. … The law requires every militia-man to provide himself with the arms usual in the regular service.”
- Notes on the State of Virginia, written by Jefferson, published in 1781, updated in 1782

“What country before, ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that his people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. … What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”
- Thomas Jefferson in a letter to William S. Smith in 1787. Taken from Jefferson, On Democracy 20, S. Padover ed.,1939

“I enclose you a list of the killed, wounded, and captives of the enemy from the commencement of hostilities at Lexington in April, 1775, until November, 1777, since which there has been no event of any consequence... I think that upon the whole it has been about one half the number lost by them, in some instances more, but in others less. This difference is ascribed to our superiority in taking aim when we fire; every soldier in our army having been intimate with his gun from his infancy.”
- letter to Giovanni Fabbroni (June 8, 1788)

“…the governor [is] constitutionally the commander of the militia of the State, that is to say, of every man in it able to bear arms…”.
- letter to Destutt de Tracy (January 26, 1811)

“The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of the press.”
- letter to Major John Cartwright (June 5, 1824)

"Whenever governments mean to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise an army upon their ruins."
- Rep. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, spoken during floor debate over the Second Amendment, I Annals of Congress at 750, August 17, 1789.

"The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."
- Thomas Jefferson Papers, 334 (C.J. Boyd, Ed., 1950)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

"The thoughtful reader may wonder, why wasn't Jefferson's proposal of ‘No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms’ adopted by the Virginia legislature? They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
THOMAS PAINE

“The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and the 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, I Writings of Thomas Paine at 56 [1894]

"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."
- Thomas Paine, Thoughts On Defensive War, 1775

“...in this country, every man is a militia-man...”.
- The American Crisis series, # 9, dated June 9, 1780
 

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Discussion Starter #7
WILLIAM RAWLE

"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 pretense by a state legislature. But if in any blind pursuit of inordinate power, either should attempt it, this amendment may be appealed to as a restraint on both."
- William Rawle, A View of the Constitution 125-6 (2nd ed. 1829)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
PATRICK HENRY

"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 ..."
- Patrick Henry, Elliot p. 3:50-53, in Virginia Ratifying Convention demanding a guarantee of the right to bear arms

“Have we no means of resisting disciplined armies, when our only defense, the militia, is put in the hands of Congress?...Of what service would the militia be to you when, most probably, you will not have a single musket in the state? For, as arms are to be provided by Congress, they may or may not provide them.”
- Speech Before Virginia Ratifying Convention, 5 June, 1788

“They tell us, Sir, that we are weak...but when shall we be stronger? Will it be when we are totally disarmed? Three millions of People, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.”
- The War Inevitable; speech to the Virginia assembly, March, 1775

“Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.”
- Patrick Henry, 3 J. Elliot, Debates in the Several State Conventions 45, 2d ed. Philadelphia, 1836

"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, 3 J. Elliot, Debates in the Several State Conventions 45, 2d ed. Philadelphia, 1836
 

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Discussion Starter #9
JOHN ADAMS

"To suppose arms in the hands of citizens, to be used at individual discretion, except in private self-defense, or by partial orders of towns, countries or districts of a state, is to demolish every constitution, and lay the laws prostrate, so that liberty can be enjoyed by no man; it is a dissolution of the government. The fundamental law of the militia is, that it be created, directed and commanded by the laws, and ever for the support of the laws."
- John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of the United States, 475 [1787-1788]

“Here, every private person is authorized to arm himself, and on the strength of this authority, I do not deny the inhabitants had a right to arm themselves at that time, for their defense, not for offense...”.
- opening statement as defense counsel for British soldiers on trial for the Boston Massacre in 1770; from the Legal Papers of John Adams, Butterfield and Zobel; 1965
 

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Discussion Starter #10
SAMUEL ADAMS

“Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can. … it is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in the power of one, or any number of men, at entering into society, to renounce their essential natural rights, or the means of preserving those rights; when the grand end of civil government, from the very nature of its institution, is for the support, protection, and defense of those very rights; the principal of which, as is before observed, are Life, Liberty, and Property. If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renunciation. The right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave.”
- The Rights of the Colonists (November 20, 1772)

“The said Constitution [shall] be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms; or to raise standing armies, unless necessary for the defense of the United States, or of some one or more of them.”
- Debates & Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (February 6, 1788)

“The Militia is composed of free citizens. There is therefore no danger of their making use of their power to the destruction of their own Rights, or suffering others to invade them.”
- Samuel Adams, to James Warren, January 7 1776

“... whereas, 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...”
- Constitutional Debates of the Massachusetts Convention of 1788 (also attributed to A Federal Farmer, the anti-federalist)
 

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Discussion Starter #11
JAMES MADISON

“Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it. Besides the advantage of being armed, which the 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 enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. 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. And it is not certain, that with this aid alone they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the people to possess the additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves, who could collect the national will and direct the national force, and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these governments, and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned in spite of the legions which surround it. Let us not insult the free and gallant citizens of America with the suspicion, that they would be less able to defend the rights of which they would be in actual possession, than the debased subjects of arbitrary power would be to rescue theirs from the hands of their oppressors.”
- (James Madison, author of the Bill of Rights, in Federalist Paper No. 46.)

“[A] government resting on a minority is an aristocracy, not a Republic, and could not be safe with a numerical and physical force against it, without a standing army, an enslaved press, and a disarmed populace.”
- from Madison's autobiography as published in a 1945 edition of the William and Mary Quarterly, Volume 2
 

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Discussion Starter #12
GEORGE WASHINGTON

“To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace. A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.”
- First Annual Message to Congress; Federal Hall, New York City (January 8, 1790)

“At a time, when our lordly masters in Great Britain will be satisfied with nothing less than the deprivation of American freedom, it seems highly necessary that something should be done to avert the stroke, and maintain the liberty, which we have derived from our ancestors. But the manner of doing it, to answer the purpose effectually, is the point in question. That no man should scruple, or hesitate a moment, to use arms in defence of so valuable a blessing, on which all the good and evil of life depends, is clearly my opinion. Yet arms, I would beg leave to add, should be the last resource, the dernier resort. Addresses to the throne, and remonstrances to Parliament, we have already, it is said, proved the inefficacy of. How far, then, their attention to our rights and privileges is to be awakened or alarmed, by starving their trade and manufacturers, remains to be tried.”
- Letter to George Mason, Apr. 5, 1769; The Writings of George Washington, collected and edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford (New York and London: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1889). Vol. III (1758-1775)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
ALEXANDER HAMILTON

“If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government.” –
- Federalist # 28

"What plan for the regulation of the militia may be pursued by the national government is impossible to be foreseen...The project of disciplining all the militia of the United States is as futile as it would be injurious if it were capable of being carried into execution... Little more can reasonably be aimed at with the respect to the people at large than to have them properly armed and equipped ; and in order to see that this be not neglected, it will be necessary to assemble them once or twice in the course of a year."
- Federalist # 29

Further in Federalist #29, Hamilton discusses militias and standing armies in detail. He argues against a formal standing army “...an excellent body of well trained militia ready to take the field whenever the defense of the State shall require it. This will not only lessen the call for military establishments, but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow citizens.” If Hamilton expected the militia to be able to stand up to and oppose the regular army, if necessary, with what would they be expected to fight, if not their own arms? That entire exposition, assuming that people would always possess their own weapons with which they could defend the People’s liberties against any formal “military establishment” of the State which might turn tyrannical, clearly shows that the idea of disarming the people was so foreign to their thinking, that they didn’t even consider it as a real possibility.
- Alexander Hamilton speaking of standing armies in Federalist 29
 

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Discussion Starter #14
GEORGE MASON

(Virginia delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Delegate to the Virginia Constitutional Ratification Convention of 1788, helped Thomas Jefferson draft the Virginia Declaration of Rights which served as the basis for the U.S. Bill of Rights)
“[W]hen the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British Parliament was advised by an artful man, who was governor of Pennsylvania, to disarm the people; that it was the best and most effectual way to enslave them; but that they should not do it openly, but weaken them, and let them sink gradually, by totally disusing and neglecting the militia.”
- from debates during the Virginia state ratifying convention (June 14, 1788), quoted in Elliot’s Debates

“I ask, who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers. But I cannot say who will be the militia of the future day. If that paper on the table gets no alteration, the militia of the future day may not consist of all classes, high and low, and rich and poor; but they may be confined to the lower and middle classes of the people, granting exclusion to the higher classes of the people. If we should ever see that day, the most ignominious punishments and heavy fines may be expected. Under the present government, all ranks of people are subject to militia duty. Under such a full and equal representation as ours, there can be no ignominious punishment inflicted. But under this national, or rather consolidated government, the case will be different. The representation being so small and inadequate, they will have no fellow-feeling for the people.”
- from debates during the Virginia state ratifying convention (June 16, 1788), quoted in Elliot’s Debates

“That a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people trained to arms, is the proper, natural and safe defense of a free state...”
- Virginia Declaration of Rights (drafted by Thomas Jefferson and George Mason, with others)

(The American Colonies were) "all democratic governments, where the power is in the hands of the people and where there is not the least difficulty or jealousy about putting arms into the hands of every man in the country. (European countries should not) be ignorant of the strength and the force of such a form of government and how strenuously and almost wonderfully people living under one have sometimes exerted themselves in defense of their rights and liberties and how fatally it has ended with many a man and many a state who have entered into quarrels, wars and contests with them."
- [George Mason, "Remarks on Annual Elections for the Fairfax Independent Company" in The Papers of George Mason, 1725-1792, ed Robert A. Rutland (Chapel Hill, 1970)]
 

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Discussion Starter #15
NOAH WEBSTER

“The militia, who are in fact the effective part of the people at large, will render many troops quite unnecessary. They will form a powerful check upon the regular troops, and will generally be sufficient to over-awe them.”
- An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution (October 17, 1787)

“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 military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to the unjust and oppressive.”
- An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution (October 17, 1787)
 

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Discussion Starter #16
RICHARD HENRY LEE

Fought under George Washington, introduced the motion leading to the Declaration of Independence, signer of the Declaration of Independence; an antifederalist, elected as Virginia delegate to the Constitutional convention and refused to serve, believing the convention was an improper body to consider the new Constitution; opposed the Constitution as not sufficiently protective of individual and State’s rights; U.S. Senator from Virginia and helped secure ratification of U.S. Bill of Rights

“A militia when properly formed are in fact the people themselves...and include all men capable of bearing arms. The Constitution ought to secure a genuine militia and guard against a select militia, by providing that the militia shall always be kept well organized, armed, and disciplined, and include...all men capable of bearing arms. The mind that aims at a select militia, must be influenced by a truly anti-republican principle.”
- Additional Letters From The Federal Farmer (1788)

“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.”
- Letters From The Federal Farmer, # 18 (January 25, 1788)

“... of the liberty of conscience in matters of religious faith, of speech and of the press; of the trial by jury of the vicinage in civil and criminal cases; of the benefit of the writ of habeas corpus; of the right to keep and bear arms.... If these rights are well defined, and secured against encroachment, it is impossible that government should ever degenerate into tyranny.”
- Letters from the Federal Farmer, # 53 (1788)

“That the people have a right to keep and bear arms; that a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people trained to arms, is the proper, natural and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided, as far as the circumstances and protection of the community will admit.”
- proposed by the Virginia delegation to the Constitutional Convention (defining the phrase “well-regulated militia” which was used exactly in the final draft of the Second Amendment); and suggested in their state ratification debates, June 1788, to clarify the right.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
ELBRIDGE GERRY

Massachusetts delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787; delegate to the Massachusetts Ratification Convention of 1788 [refused to agree to the Constitution]; Vice President during President James Madison’s second term, 1813 until his death in 1814

“What, sir, is the use of militia? It is to prevent the establishment of a standing army, the bane of liberty. . . Whenever Government means to invade the rights and liberties of the people, they always attempt to destroy the militia, in order to raise a standing army upon its ruins.”
- debate in the U.S. House of Representatives (August 17, 1789)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
FISHER AMES

Delegate to the Massachusetts Constitutional Ratification Convention of 1788, and was later elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1789
“The rights of conscience, of bearing arms, of changing the government, are declared to be inherent in the people.”
- letter to F.R. Minoe (June 12, 1789)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
SAMUEL BRYAN

Pennsylvania anti-federalist, wrote under the pseudonym “Centinel”

“That the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and their own state, or the United States, or for the purpose of killing game; and 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...”.
- during debates on ratification of the Constitution in the Pennsylvania assembly
 

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Discussion Starter #20
TENCH COXE

Prominent Federalist from Pennsylvania, published commentary under the pseudonym “An American Citizen”
“The militia, who are in fact the effective part of the people at large, will render many troops quite
unnecessary. They will form a powerful check upon the regular troops, and will generally be sufficient to over-awe them.”
- An American Citizen (October 21,1787)

“Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American . . . . The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.”
- The Pennsylvania Gazette (February 20, 1788) To preserve liberty

“The power of the sword is in the hands of Congress? My friends and countrymen, it is not so; for the powers of the sword are in the hands of the yeomanry of America from sixteen to sixty. The Militia of these free commonwealths, entitled and accustomed to their arms, when compared with any possible army, must be tremendous and irresistible. Who are the Militia? They are not ourselves as politicians and lawmakers. They are those who have elected us into our positions and entrusted us with the power of preserving and carrying out their wishes. Congress has no power to disarm the Militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American. The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the Federal or State governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.”
- letter to James Madison during adoption of the Bill of Rights in the United States Congress (1789)
 
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