George Mason said, "I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public servants."
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 have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American...[T]he 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. -Tenche Coxe, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.
The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves in all cases to which they think themselves competent, or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of the press.-Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), letter to John Cartwright, 1824
But to prohibit the citizen from wearing or carrying a war arm, except upon his own premises or when on a journey traveling through the country with baggage, or when acting as or in aid of an officer, is an unwarranted restriction upon his constitutional right to keep and bear arms. If cowardly and dishonorable men sometimes shoot unarmed men with army pistols or guns, the evil must be prevented by the penitentiary and gallows, and not by a general deprivation of a constitutional privilege.-Wilson v. State, 33 Ark. 557, 560, 34 Am. Rep. 52 (1878)
The right of the whole people, young and old, men, women and boys, and not militia only, to keep and bear arms of every description, and not such merely as are used by the militia, shall not be infringed, curtailed, or broken in upon, in the smallest degree; and all this for the important end to be attained, the rearing up and qualifying a well-regulated militia, so vitally necessary to a free state.
Nunn v. State, 1 Kelly 243 (Ga. 1846)
The whole of that Bill [of Rights] is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals...[I]t establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of.-Albert Gallatin, (1761–1849), American financier and public official, letter to Alexander Adddison, October 7, 1789
Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of the citizens to keep and bear arms. This is not to say that firearms should not be very carefully used, and that definite safety rules of precaution should not be taught and enforced. But the right of the citizens to keep and bear arms is just one more guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against a tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved always to be possible.-Hubert H. Humphrey (1911-1978), U.S. Senator and Vice President, GUNS Magazine, February 1960
The Second Amendment states that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed," period. There is no mention of magazine size, rate of fire or to what extent these arms may resemble assault rifles. All rifles were assault rifles in those days. Furthermore, if the gun laws that Massachusetts has now had been in force in 1776, we'd all be Canadians, and you know what kind of weather Canada has.-P. J. O'Rourke (b. 1947), U.S. journalist. Parliament of Whores (1991)
"The claim and exercise of a Constitutional right cannot be converted into a crime." - Miller v US, 230 F 2d 486, 489.
"The people are not to be disarmed of their weapons. They are left in fill possession of them." - Zachariah Johnson, 3 Elliott, Debates at page 646.
"The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed." - Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers, pages 184-188.
"Arms in the hands of citizens [may] be used at individual discretion... in private self-defense..." - John Adams, A defense of the Constitutions of the Government of the USA, 471(1788)
"To preserve liberty it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them..." - Richard Henry Lee writing in "Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republic"