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Second Amendment: Fact vs Fiction! (See LEGAL MEMORANDUM OPINION FOR THE U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL

Case and Constitutional Law - Founding Father Statements:

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, 1789

The constitution shall NEVER be construed to authorize Congress to prevent the people of the United States from keeping their own arms. - Samuel Adams, 1722-1803

Arms in the hands of the citizen may be used at individual discretion for the defense of the country, the overthrow of TYRANNY, or private self defense. - John Adams

"For, in principle, there is no difference between a law prohibiting the wearing of concealed arms, and a law forbidding the wearing such as are exposed; and if the former be unconstitutional, the latter must be so likewise. But it should not be forgotten, that it is not only a part of the right that is secured by the constitution; it is the right entire and complete, as it existed at the adoption of the constitution; and if any portion of that right be impaired, immaterial how small the part may be, and immaterial the order of time at which it be done, it is equally forbidden by the constitution." [Bliss vs. Commonwealth, 12 Ky. (2 Litt.) 90, at 92, and 93, 13 Am. Dec. 251 (1822)

"The right of a citizen to bear arms, in lawful defense of himself or the State, is absolute. He does not derive it from the State government. It is one of the high powers" delegated directly to the citizen, and 'is excepted out of the general powers of government.' A law cannot be passed to infringe upon or impair it, because it is above the law, and independent of the lawmaking power." [Cockrum v. State, 24 Tex. 394, at 401-402 (1859)]

"The provision in the Constitution granting the right to all persons to bear arms is a limitation upon the power of the Legislature to enact any law to the contrary. The exercise of a right guaranteed by the Constitution cannot be made subject to the will of the sheriff." [People vs. Zerillo, 219 Mich. 635, 189 N.W. 927, at 928 (1922)]

"The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.' The right of the whole people, old and young, men, women and boys, and not militia only, to keep and bear arms of every description, and not such merely as are used by the militia, shall not be infringed, curtailed, or broken in upon, in the smallest degree; and all this for the important end to be attained: the rearing up and qualifying a well-regulated militia, so vitally necessary to the security of a free State. Our opinion is that any law, State or Federal, is repugnant to the Constitution, and void, which contravenes this right." [Nunn vs. State, 1 Ga. (1 Kel.) 243, at 251 (1846)]

"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)

"The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them." - Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States; With a Preliminary Review of the Constitutional History of the Colonies and States before the Adoption of the Constitution [Boston, 1833].

"[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 defence 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).

"The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that... it is their right and duty to be at all times armed;..." - Thomas Jefferson to Justice John Cartwright, 1824. ME 16:45.

"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 No. 46 at 243-244.

"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." - Thomas Jefferson, quoting Cesare Beccaria in "On Crimes and punishment" (1764).

"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; that has no remedy for evils except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crime." - Cesare Beccaria, quoted by Thomas Jefferson

"The gun gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind. Let your gun, therefore, be the constant companion of your walks." - Thomas Jefferson

"The said Constitution be never construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms." - Samuel Adams, during Massachusetts's Convention to Ratify the Constitution (1788).


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