Thomas Jefferson on Laws That Forbid the Carrying of Arms
“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, 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
NOTE: As brought to my attention in April of 2013, the above should not be attributed as something that Jefferson actually wrote. It was something Jefferson translated from the Italian as sufficiently noteworthy to be included in his “Legal Commonplace Book.” The passage is from Cesare Beccaria’s Essay on Crimes and Punishments.
Whether or not Jefferson agreed with the passage, in whole or in part, is debatable. What isn’t debatable are other verified quotations which may lead one to reasonably conclude that the notion of disarming a citizen against villains or government was anathema to Jefferson:
- “And what country can preserve its liberties, if the rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.”
- “The tree of liberty must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
- “A little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical…It is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government.”