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Unfortunately, any discussion of the proper and constitutional role of firearms in the United States must first overcome the plethora of citations which may have been mangled beyond meaning or wrenched from the context in which they presented to represent something far different from what the speaker or situation would deem appropriate. Here, we will endeavor to restore those quotes to their appropriate context.

Where an orginal or at least earliest authoritative source for the distortion can be identifed, the individual guilty of the crime is named to face the charges. Where the quote has taken on a life of it's own, repeatedly offered in the various lists of pro-gun lobby quotes (often only incompletely cited to the claimed speaker), no source of the offense will be offered, as these urban legends frequently take on a life of their own and it is the mere familiarity that some mistake for accuracy.

    Adams, Samuel
      "The Constititution shall never be construed...to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms."

    Coxe, Tench

      "...the people are confirmed by the next article in their right to keep and bear their private arms."

    Madison, James (Federalist 46),

      "... [T]he advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation..."

    Mason, George

      "I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials."

    Story, Joseph (Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 1833),

      "The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; ..."


©Copyright, 2000, Mike Rosenberg