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Stuff I Wrote
The Right to Keep and
    Bear Arms
Odd Words
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Hedda Garza Memorial
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Statement of Purpose
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Twenty Years of the CIO — 
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Gun Sales Up, Violent

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Book Review:
“The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor — The Life and Times of Tony Mazzocchi” This is a fascinating book about a labor leader who has had tremendous influence on our lives, but whose name is not even known by millions of Americans. Please read my review.


Great Quotations

Read what the founders of this country and other thinking persons have had to say about liberty and the right to keep and bear arms:

Thomas Jefferson

  1. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.

  2. To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.

  3. When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.

  4. 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. — (Letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823, The Complete Jefferson, p. 322)

  5. 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. — (Jefferson’s “Commonplace Book,” 1774-1776, quoting from On Crimes and Punishment, by criminologist Cesare Beccaria, 1764; see below)

Benjamin Franklin

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Cesare Beccaria, 18th Century Italian Criminologist

The laws that forbid the carrying of arms … serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.

Samuel Adams

It is not unfrequent to hear men declaim loudly upon liberty, who, if we may judge by the whole tenor of their actions, mean nothing else by it but their own liberty, — to oppress without control or the restraint of laws all who are poorer or weaker than themselves. — (Essay, ‘The Advertiser,’ 1748)

Were the talents and virtues which heaven has bestowed on men given merely to make them more obedient drudges, to be sacrificed to the follies and ambition of a few? Or, were not the noble gifts so equally dispensed with a divine purpose and law, that they should as nearly as possible be equally exerted, and the blessings of Providence be equally enjoyed by all? — (Speech, State House of Pennsylvania, 1776)

The liberties of our Country, the freedom of our civil constitution are worth defending at all hazards: And it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have receiv'd them as a fair Inheritance from our worthy Ancestors: They purchasd them for us with toil and danger and expence of treasure and blood; and transmitted them 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 men. Of the latter we are in most danger at present: Let us therefore be aware of it. — (Essay, ‘The Boston Gazette,’ 1771)

And that the said Constitution 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. — (Debates and Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 86-87)

Patrick Henry

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?

The Constitution shall never be construed…to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms. — (Patrick Henry, J. Elliot, Debates in the Several State Conventions 45, 2d ed. Philadelphia, 1836)

Thomas Hobbes

A covenant not to defend myself from force, by force, is always void. For … no man can transfer or lay down his Right to save himself from death.

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.

Albert Gallatin

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 Gallatin at the New York Historical Society, October 7, 1789)

Niccolo Machiavelli

Rome remained free for four hundred years and Sparta eight hundred, although their citizens were armed all that time; but many other states that have been disarmed have lost their liberties in less than forty years.

Mohandas Gandhi

  1. Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving the whole nation of arms as the blackest.

  2. I do believe that where there is a choice only between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence.

George Mason

  1. To disarm the people [is] the best and most effectual way to enslave them.

  2. I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for few public officials. — (George Mason, Elliot, Debates at 425-426)

Adolf Hitler

The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subjected people to carry arms ...

Cicero, 1st Century BC

[I]f our lives are endangered by plots or violence or armed robbers or enemies, any and every method of protecting ourselves is morally right.

Thomas Paine

  1. It is the violence which is done and threatened to our persons, the destruction of our property by armed force, the invasion of our country by fire and sword which conscientiously qualifies the use of arms.

  2. He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

  3. The peaceable part of mankind will be continually overrun by the vile and abandoned while they neglect the means of self-defense … [Weakness] allures the ruffian [but] arms, like laws, discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe and preserve order in the world … Horrid mischief would ensue were [the good] deprived of the use of them.

  4. 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. … — (I Writings of Thomas Paine at 56 [1894])

Hubert H. Humphrey

Certainly, one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms. … [T]he right of the citizen to bear arms is just one more safeguard against a tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible.

Wendell Phillips

I think you can make better use of iron than forging it into chains. If you must have the metal, put it into Sharpe's rifles. It is a great deal better used that way than in fetters. (1859)

Malcolm X

It is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.

Eugene V. Debs

The protection the government owes you and fails to provide, you are morally bound to provide for yourselves …

Robert F. Williams

The principle of self defense is an American tradition that began at Lexington and Concord.

St. George Tucker, in his edition of Blackstone's “Commentaries”

The right of self-defense is the first law of nature … 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.

Mark Twain

Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.

Justice Louis D. Brandeis

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. — (Dissenting, Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 479 [1928])

Lyndon Johnson

You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered.

Adlai Stevenson

A free society is a place where it’s safe to be unpopular.

William J.H. Boetcker

That you may retain your self-respect, it is better to displease the people by doing what you know is right, than to temporarily please them by doing what you know is wrong.

Thomas Jefferson on The Right to Bear Arms

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