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Attitudes of the Founding Fathers toward Guns

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Attitudes of the Founding Fathers toward Guns

The leaders of the American Revolution and the early republic were enthusiastic proponents of guns and widespread gun ownership. The Founding Fathers were unanimous about the importance of an armed citizenry able to overthrow a despotic government. Virtually all the political philosophers whose ideas were known to the Founders--such as Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Machiavelli, Montesquieu, Beccaria, Locke, and Sidney--agreed that a republic could not long endure without an armed citizenry.[99] Said Patrick Henry, "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined. . . . The great object is that every man be armed. . . . Everyone who is able may have a gun."[100] Thomas Jefferson's model constitution for Virginia declared, "No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms in his own lands or tenements."[101] Jefferson's colleague John Adams spoke for "arms in the hands of citizens, to be used at individual discretion . . . in private self-defense."[102]

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