"The laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are
neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Can it be supposed that
those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity...will
respect the less important and arbitrary ones... 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 18th century criminologist Cesare Beccaria in "On
Crimes and Punishment."
"Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we
shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom? Congress shall have no
power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement
of the soldier, are the birthright of an American ... The unlimited power of
the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but
where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the People."
~Tench Coxe, Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.
"The peaceable part of mankind will be continually overrun by the vile and
abandoned while they neglect the means of self-defense. The supposed quietude
of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms 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... Horrid mischief would
ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them;... the weak will
become a prey to the strong."
~Thomas Paine, "Thoughts on Defensive War," 1775
"Are we at last brought to such a humiliating and debasing degradation, that
we cannot be trusted with arms for our own defense? Where is the difference
between having our arms in our own possession and under our own direction,
and having them under the management of Congress? If our defense be the real
object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more
propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?"
~Patrick Henry June 9, 1788, in the Virginia Convention
on the ratification of the Constitution.
"If you love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude better
than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not
your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May
your chains set lightly upon you and may posterity forget that ye were our
~Samuel Adams, 1776
"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary
Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
~Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), reply of the Pennsylvania Assembly to the
governor, November 11, 1755
"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
"No kingdom can be secured otherwise than by arming the people. The
possession of arms is the distinction between a freeman and a slave. He, who
has nothing, and who himself belongs to another, must be defended by him,
whose property he is, and needs no arms. But he, who thinks he is his own
master, and has what he can call his own, ought to have arms to defend
himself, and what he possesses; else he lives precariously, and at
~James Burgh, Political Disquisitions: Or, an Enquiry into Public Errors,
Defects, and Abuses [London, 1774-1775].
"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].
"'Necessity' is the plea for every infringement of human liberty; it is the
argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
"War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded
state of moral and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war
is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight,
nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable
creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the
exertions of better men than himself."
~John Stuart Mill
"The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or
rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or
fraud, in carrying elections."
~Lord Acton, English historian, 1907
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only
exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from
the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the
candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the
result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always
followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest
civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this
sequence: "From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great
courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance
to selfishness; From selfishness to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From
dependence back into bondage."
~Alexander Fraser Tytler (later Lord Alexander Fraser Woodhouslee), in "The
Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic," published 1776.
"I am not among those who fear the people. They, and not the rich, are our
dependence for continued freedom. And to preserve their independence, we must
not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election
between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude. If we run into such
debts, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our
necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our
callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them,
must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give the earnings of
fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and
the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they
now do, on oatmeal and potatoes; have no time to think, no means of calling
the mismanagers to account; but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring
ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers. Our
landholders, too, like theirs, retaining indeed the title and stewardship of
estates called theirs, but held really in trust for the treasury, must
wander, like theirs, in foreign countries, and be contented with penury,
obscurity, exile, and the glory of the nation. This example reads to us the
salutary lesson, that private fortunes are destroyed by public as well as by
private extravagance. And this is the tendency of all human governments. A
departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second;
that second for a third; and so on, till the bulk of the society is reduced
to be mere automatons of misery, and to have no sensibilities left but for
sinning and suffering. Then begins, indeed, the bellum omnium in omnia, which
some philosophers observing to be so general in this world, have mistaken it
for the natural, instead of the abusive state of man. And the fore horse of
this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train
wretchedness and oppression."
~Thomas Jefferson, letter to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1816.
"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the
children of men as a whole experience it. . .Avoiding danger is no safer in
the long run than outright exposure. . . Life is either a daring adventure or
~Helen Keller (1880 - 1968)
"If you want to build an escape-proof prison, there is a way. Just don't tell the prisoners that they're in jail. Make them compete with each other for life sentences...Call it home."
~Chad Oliver, Shadows In The Sun, 1954.
"I have found a certain type calls himself a Liberal...Now I always thought I was a Liberal. I came up terribly surprised one time when I found out that I was a Right-Wing Conservative Extremist, when I listened to everybody's point of view that I ever met, and then decided how I should feel. But this so-called new Liberal group, Jesus, they never listen to your point of view..."
"Society does not want free men. They talk freedom, democracy, anything they want. But they don't want free men. Society wants conditioned men…men who march in step."
~Henri "Papillon" Charierre
"Demagogue: one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots."
"A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague."
~Marcus Cicero, Roman Statesman
"I think any young man, or any man, who isn't angry at one time or another is a waste of time. No, no, anger is a symbol of thought and evaluation and reaction. Without it, what have we got? I'm tired of non-angry people."
~John Steinbeck via Susan Schillinglaw, English Professor and Steinbeck Scholar
"John asked one of the Associated Farmers, 'Hey, you keep calling these organizers communists, what do you mean?' And the land owner responded, 'I mean any son-of-a-bitch who wants thirty-cents an hour when I'm willing to pay him two-bits, that's a communist.' Now, Steinbeck himself referred to this as, 'Salinas Thinking.'"
~John Steinbeck via Susan Schillinglaw, English Professor and Steinbeck Scholar
"There is an old saying that victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan."
~President John Fitzgerald Kennedy
"A government, for protecting business only, is a carcass, and soon falls by its own corruption and decay."
~Amos Bronson Alcott
"Communications without intelligence is noise; intelligence without communications is irrelevant."
~General Alfred Gray, Former Commandant United States Marine Corps (Ret.)
"Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."
"Historical research shows that our Founding Fathers out NRAed the NRA."
~Professor Don Kates, Professor of Constitutional and Criminal Law
"I declare to you that woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself, and there I take my stand."
~Susan B. Anthony
"This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer."
~ Will Rogers
"You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered."
~ President Lyndon Johnson
"The mind is sharper and keener in seclusion and uninterrupted solitude. No big laboratory is needed in which to think. Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone, that is the secret of invention; be alone, that is when ideas are born."
~ Nikola Tesla
“For the first time in my life, I was reading things which had not been approved by the Prophet's censors, and the impact on my mind was devastating. Sometimes I would glance over my shoulder to see who was watching me, frightened in spite of myself. I began to sense faintly that secrecy is the keystone of all tyranny. Not force, but secrecy...censorship. When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to it's subjects, 'This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know,' the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives. Mighty little force is needed to control a man whose mind has been hoodwinked. Contrariwise, no amount of force can control a free man, a man whose mind is free. No, not the rack, not fission bombs, not anything - you can't conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him.”
~ Robert Heinlein
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