Gun Ownership and Control in the Words of Famous Americans

By Catherine Salgado on January 31, 2020
Disclaimer: The views, information and or opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Uloop and its affiliates, nor is it endorsed by Uloop. Readers should do their own research on any reporting, facts, and other information included in the article before forming their own opinions.

The issue of gun ownership and gun control is one of the many divisive issues tearing this country apart just now. Many fear that gun ownership is the root of the problem (which seems strange considering how astronomically high shooting rates are in gun-control havens such as Chicago), but history seems to say otherwise.

Throughout American history, those who sought gun control often did so on racist or otherwise reprehensible motives, while those who most strongly supported the right to keep and bear arms as enshrined in the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution did so from a desire for peace and security. Since the great thinkers and politicians of American history make the argument for gun ownership far better than any young journalist could, however, I would like to present a number of quotes which make a compelling argument for gun ownership and which explain how gun control is actually likely to prove counterproductive to reducing violence and increasing security.

The Founding Fathers are particularly vocal on this issue, due to their experience with England’s punitive gun restrictions and the importance during the Revolution of volunteer militiamen who brought their own guns with them to fight in General Washington’s army. America was possible only because she was populated with men who owned guns and who knew how to use them in a rational manner to ensure the protection of their liberties. The first Americans understood the principle, voiced in different ways by Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, and many others, that a man can be sure of his rights and dignities only when he has the means to defend them personally from violent attacks.

“(A)rms, like laws, discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property.  The balance of power is the scale of peace.  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. . . .The history of every age and nation establishes these truths, and facts need but little arguments when they prove themselves.” – Thomas Paine, American patriot and author

“It is a chimerical idea to suppose that a country like this could ever be enslaved.  How is an army for that purpose to… subdue a nation of freemen who know how to prize liberty and who have arms in their hands?” – Theodore Sedgwick, Revolutionary patriot

“Forty years ago, when the resolution of enslaving America was formed in Great Britain, the British parliament was advised… 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 to weaken them and let them sink gradually.” – George Mason, delegate to the Constitutional Convention and “Father of the Bill of Rights”

“A free people ought… to be armed.” – George Washington, commander of the Continental Army, first US president, and the “Father of His Country”

“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.” – Thomas Jefferson (quoting Cesare Beccaria), writer of the Declaration of Independence

“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed. . . .The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword because the whole body of the people are armed.” – Noah Webster, Revolutionary soldier, legislator, and contributor to the Constitution

Later on in American history, many political theorists, politicians, soldiers, and citizens still understood the importance of private gun ownership.  In Democrat-controlled areas such as the Southern states, however, restrictions on black men owning guns were numerous, because unarmed men were men who could be forced to do what they were told by men who were armed. This was what later inspired escaped slave Frederick Douglass to place such an emphasis on the ability of all Americans, black or white, to own guns. As he put it,

“A man’s rights rest in three boxes: the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box. “– Frederick Douglass, former slave and popular abolitionist orator

After the Civil War and continuing into modern times, Americans who valued personal liberty and the safeguarding of individual rights still insisted that gun ownership was an essential part of this safeguarding. How can a mere individual protect himself against a government which may become tyrannical, or against other individuals who may threaten his rights and liberties? Owning a weapon is a good start. Frontier women knew how useful it was to have a gun when their families were threatened, and in more modern America women began to appreciate more and more the value of the “great equalizer.” A woman may not be as physically strong as her assailant, but if she has a gun that difference in physical strength does not matter as much.

“I would like to see every woman know how to handle [firearms] as naturally as they know how to handle babies. – Annie Oakley, sharpshooter

“You won’t get gun control by disarming law-abiding citizens. There’s only one way to get real gun control: Disarm the thugs and the criminals, lock them up.” – Ronald Reagan, US president

“To make inexpensive guns impossible to get is to say that you’re putting a money test on getting a gun. It’s racism in its worst form.” – Roy Innis, civil rights leader

“You know why there’s a Second Amendment? In case the government fails to follow the first one.” – Rush Limbaugh, talk show radio host

“Any unarmed people are slaves, or are subject to slavery at any given moment.” – Huey P. Newton, political activist

“But to ban guns because criminals use them is to tell the innocent and law-abiding that their rights and liberties depend not on their own conduct, but on the conduct of the guilty and the lawless, and that the law will permit them to have only such rights and liberties as the lawless will allow.” – Jeff Snyder, lawyer and politician

It is also interesting to note that former Japanese officers later admitted that Japan had not launched a land invasion of the United States during World War II precisely because so many Americans were gun owners – the Japanese were afraid that even their excellent armies could not hope to conquer such a nation as ours. As Admiral Yamamoto is quoted saying, “You cannot invade mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass.”

(Note: Many of the quotes and much of the information on gun laws here came from the book Second Amendment: Preserving the Inalienable Right of Self-Protection by David Barton.)

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Disclaimer: The views, information and or opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of Uloop and its affiliates, nor is it endorsed by Uloop. Readers should do their own research on any reporting, facts, and other information included in the article before forming their own opinions.
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