James Paterson Quote

“... in all countries where personal freedom is valued, however much each individual may rely on legal redress, the right of each to carry arms -- and these the best and the sharpest -- for his own protection in case of extremity, is a right of nature indelible and irrepressible, and the more it is sought to be repressed the more it will recur.”

~ James Paterson

Commentaries on the Liberty of the Subject and the Laws of England Relating to the Security of the Person, (London, 1877), Vol. 1, p. 441; quoted in Joyce Malcolm, To Keep and Bear Arms. The Origins of an Anglo-American Right (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994), pp. 169-170

Ratings and Comments

Robert, Sarasota

I give it three beacuase he was referring to the sword and to fight 1-1 is a thousand time braver than shooting with a gun. Give a man a knife and let him hunt the tiger and see how many brave people step forward. Guns are for cowards - I say no more. Have a wonderful weekend, Robert

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

meaningless extracted babble.

Logan, Memphis, TN

The 'right' of the PEOPLE to 'keep and bear Arms' encompassed every kind of weaponry of self-defense - it was not specific to projectile weaponry, however, it was as inclusive of these weapons as in all other forms. There are, if you look closely, several words in the Constitution that are capitalized when they shouldn't necessarily be - this was not done by mistake. According to their rules of grammar, this type of capitalization was their way of adding emphasis on a single word. 'Arms' isn't a word that requires capitalization, in our day, but was done so to add emphasis to the importance of the idea behind it. What is important enough that they thought the citizenry should be protected inviolate in their right of bearing Arms? On the premise that 'Arms' meant any type of weapon (including but not limited to 'rifles' or 'guns') - It cannot be reasonably argued that a "well regulated militia" was the sole intent of the 2nd Amendment. Their type of warfare and understanding absolutely required a rifle (not even a pistol, at the time, would be sufficient). A sword, bayonet, knife, or other weapon, could be used by the army or militia, but were suicide if used without a rifle... In writing the Bill of Rights, the word ‘Arms’ (an all inclusive ‘right’) was used instead of something more specific – it is clear that the founder’s intent was focused upon the right of self-protection by ‘Arms’. The man who fears his law abiding and responsible neighbor, because he has a particular tool or ‘Arm’ of self-defense, is the same man, if in a foxhole, that I would rather give myself up to the enemy than to ask him to watch my back.

  • Reply
Anonymous    3/24/06

Wake up and see what is happening in England since they removed the right to keep and bear arms ... violent crime increased by 50%. Terrorists used knives to hijack planes on 9-11, but one citizen with a handgun would have prevented numerous deaths. I don't hunt endangered species, but use a knife to hunt a tiger (who has 8 built-in knives) makes you an idiot, not brave. Criminals will attack with the best tool they have, be it knife, bat or gun. My 15 year old daughter could not possibly defend against a 5'10" 180 lb (small) man, with or w/o a knife. Using a handgun is about self-defense, protecting life, not bravery.

David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood

The day they tell us we can no longer bear arms, I will purchase as many as I can find. Therefore, "...and the more it is sought to be repressed the more it will recur," makes sense to me. Apparently "meaningless extracted babble' describes Anonymous' opinion of himself.

E Archer, NYC

What about cross-bows, spears, flaming arrows, catapults, and trebuchets? Certainly in 1877 the speaker was familiar with guns of all kinds and cannons, too. Should a person be allowed to buy a tank? Why not! They are for sale. Why is it increasingly difficult to be allowed to protect oneself? Obviously, the State's intent is to make us completely vulnerable and under their control. In a free Republic the People are permitted to make sure that does not happen.

Shooterman, Beaumont, Tx

I think it is apparent our two resident gun grabbers, are afraid to take a dump without Uncle Sugar's permission.

Terry Berg, Occidental, CA

'Bravery' or 'cowardice' are not the issue when confronted by someone trying to do harm to a person. Effective protection is the issue. - Sometimes "Discretion is the better part of valor" - Shakespear - "King Henry IV" || Sometimes "He who turns and runs away, lives to fight another day." - unsourced - || Sometimes, you need to fight. Carry protection and carry the best protection you can get your hands on. Generally that's your wits. Sometimes, it's a gun.

J Carlton, Calgary

The desire to defend one's self and one's property is as natural as the sun rising and hard wired into the DNA of everything with a heartbeat. The gun grabbers are incapable of understanding this most basic and simple of natural laws. In fact accoring to Diane Feinstein, it's "legal to hunt humans" in the US. And that's why she feels guns should be taken away. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypHaYAv_EEw&feature=player_embedded) I can't believe this incredibly stupid woman has actually been allowed to propose any sort of law...let alone one that directly contradicts the Constitution.

L. Hanson, Edmonton, Canada

Moreover it's becoming so apparent that the hollow and muling arguments of the pro-gun lackeys resemble those of the Confederacy; where they were willing to die for their god-given right to own another human being.

J Carlton, Calgary

Hanson....that doesn't even begin to make sense...have you figured out how to uninvent guns yet? Because that's the only way to acheive your fairy tale utopia.

jim k, Austin, Tx

L.Hanson, it seems that those shock treatments you are getting just aren't working. In your case I afraid it's hopeless.

J Carlton, Calgary

"Pro gun lackeys"...LMAO...totally reminiscent of Mao`s Imperialist Running Dogs....anything to stir up motions...hahaha

Mike, Norwalk

Logan, very well said. L Hanson, why would you print a revisionist version of History if not for the sole purpose of propagating a socialist's lie ?

E Archer, NYC

The real issue is not 'guns,' it is 'power.' How much power can your neighbors allow you to have? Who has the power to force one to obey the dictates of another? What do we do when people don't do what they are told to do? Who is right? How will it be decided? The state's power is merely the people's power granted to it. But the state then uses that power to prevent the people from the free exercise of their own power, yet the state is nothing but 'other' people.

Because the state is a corporation with no soul and outlives the lives of the people themselves, it becomes a leviathan -- it is that reason that all the people must retain their powers to keep the state in check. Whether that power is one's wits or one's weapons, the state does what it can to restrict both. When the state talks about 'security' it means its OWN security. When the state talks about the 'people' it means government. When the state talks about 'gun control' it means 'people control.' Hanson would have us all be subservient to the state (i.e. slaves) rather than having the power over ourselves and our defense against those that wield power against us. If power is too dangerous to be put into the hands of the people (it is already there, by the way), then how is it safer in the exclusive hands of the state? Ask the brown people that have been on the receiving end of US bombs for the last 25 years... this is what the state does with the power it steals from the people 'for their own security.'


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