Would Founding Fathers Favor Gun Control? Not a Chance.

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The Founding Fathers are invoked by both sides of the gun control debate. Gun rights supporters argue that the Second Amendment makes it pretty clear they weren’t fans of restricting the right to keep and bear arms. After all, no one has shown that “shall not be infringed” had a different meaning back in their time.


Yet time and time again, anti-Second Amendment types routinely claim that the Founding Fathers would support their favorite gun control schemes. The guys who figured the people would have to rise up and fight their government on regular basis, for example, wouldn’t want us to have AR-15s because they’re just way too dangerous.

But what were their own words on the topic?

Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, said this in that same year in drafting Virginia’s Constitution: “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.”

Perhaps more famously Jefferson is oft quoted with the following from his Commonplace Book from roughly the same year, though the quote is truly that of the great Enlightenment thinker and earliest criminologist Cesare Beccaria, an ardent gun control opponent: 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 crimes…. Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants.”

Founding Father George Mason had this to say in 1776, reflecting deep distrust in standing armies: That a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that, in all cases, the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”

“What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms.”
– Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, December 20, 1787

“To disarm the people…[i]s the most effectual way to enslave them.”
– George Mason, referencing advice given to the British Parliament by Pennsylvania governor Sir William Keith, The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, June 14, 1788

“The Constitution shall be never construed to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms; or to raise standing armies, unless necessary for the defense of the United States, or of some one or more of them.”
– Samuel Adams, Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, 1788


Of course, there are a lot more over at AMAC’s website, so go and look and keep those handy.

Now, these are their own words. These are the things that if a presidential candidate said on the campaign trail here and now, the gun control crowd would lose their minds over. “HOW DARE HE?” they would exclaim.

Yet they said it.

Here’s the flip side of this, though. Not a single gun control advocate has presented a single quote from a Founding Father that seems to even hint at supporting the restriction of the right to keep and bear arms.

How can gun control be what the Founding Fathers would support today if there’s not even a hint that they supported such an idea then?

See, when gun control supporters make the claim that the Founders would support an assault weapon ban, they ignore that they opposed restricting the ownership of cannons so far as we can tell. What they’re doing is simply superimposing their own beliefs onto people who cannot defend their views here and now.

It’s always convenient to do that simply because the dead can’t answer for the things said about them today.

Yet they said plenty back in the day, and absolutely none of it supports the gun control crowd’s beliefs.

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