Thomas Jefferson’s Reasoning for “The Right to Bear Arms”


It has been absolutely shocking, and sickening, the shooting of the  20 helpless children and the adults that bravely tried to protect them. It is not surprising in the least that in the emotion of the horror there has been a demand for Gun Control. I too am disturbed from the evilness of the act, but I thought as a counterweight I would post this article to expose both Americans and Canadians to the rational that brought about the 2nd Amendment.

Disclosure: Inasmuch as I live in Canada and also feel secure in my life, I don’t feel personally that I need a gun for protection therefore I do not own any form of weapon. Likewise, in the past a friend invited me to go hunting with him. I had a deer in the cross-hairs, by couldn’t pull the trigger to kill the critter. No sense to have a gun. So as I write this, I assure you that I am not biased because I have a weapon.

As I write I recognize that this is a very hot topic and I could lose half of the readers either side of the line.  As always, I write to get information out that is not generally known or reported on. In the purest sense, the Athenian sense, democracy is a conversation by anyone that wishes to add a voice, and then the people can decide for themselves what they believe and/or what they will vote for. Is this not the path of an informed and intellectually maturing population.

Thomas Jefferson’s Reasoning for “The Right to Bear Arms

As the issue of Gun Control explodes in America, and spills into Canada, it is  time to look back in history to understand the intent Thomas Jefferson had in the writing of the 2nd Amendment. It seems that Americans do not know their history, and it is rather sad that it is a Canadian that has to bring this to their attention.

Jefferson served as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress therefore he, with the other delligets were front and center to the American rebellion against Britain and knew very well that their actions were worthy of treason and if unsuccessful their/his neck would be stretched by the hangman’s noose. Was he brave and a risktaker? Yes. Was he a man of action? Here is his take on that: “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you”.

The Congress was the organization that made preparations to fight the British Empire (the governing body for the the then 1%) for independence and freedom. This surely effected  his opinion on the need for weaponry to throw off tyranny. He saw the tyranny of men so quick to capitalize on the populous for their own advantage and overindulgent prosperity. Freedom was his answer to oppression. He saw this all close up and personal.

Another thing you have to understand about Jefferson, it was the order of the day for the Congress to design a new model of a democracy. This required that the Founding Fathers study the democracies of the Iroquois, Athens and the Republic of Rome. Perhaps it is not surprising, seeing the results, that they favoured the Republic of Rome model. They also came to the conclusion that democracies were fragile and susceptible to those that would try to take over the government. Would others try to take advantage of the fledgling government? Likely. So built into the Constitution was safeguards for the Republic.

So Jefferson wrote the Constitution with strong wording in the 2nd Amendment to protect the rights of the people to bear arms. In an 1824 letter Jefferson wrote to J. Cartwright states “The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that… it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.” He also wrote “A free state relies on its people to defend it when necessary and at all times to keep it free.” This is perhaps the reason that Americans look to the Right to Bear Arms as the defining principle of whether or not they have freedom and democracy. This is the gauge of their trust of the government. This is the reason Americans run to buy guns, despite the mass killing of Newtown, at the mention of Gun Control.


There are 2 reasons for Jefferson’s reasoning. Reason 1. “For a people who are free and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security. It is, therefore, incumbent on us at every meeting [of Congress] to revise the condition of the militia and to ask ourselves if it is prepared to repel a powerful enemy at every point of our territories exposed to invasion…(Thomas Jefferson: 8th Annual Message, 1808. ME 3:482 )


Reason 2. As before mentioned, Jefferson recognized that democracies are fragile organizations, susceptible to leaders that will misuse their power, and he also anticipated the day that an American leader might try to seize control of the Government. Here is a quote that forms somewhat of Jefferson’s view, “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?” Jefferson But here is the strongest quote I have found on Jefferson’s thoughts of  a future tyrant in Government “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government”. There is no mixing words there. Source:

Jefferson’s as a matter of fact thoughts on the protection of freedoms, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Conversely, Jefferson warned of the apathy of the people that would pave the road to tyranny, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” Looking at these 2 quotes of Jefferson’s it seems most sensible for the people to pursue a course to keep their Government honest and working for the people. Pressuring your representatives is far preferred to leaving it to the call to arms.

Who knows IF or WHEN that day will come. But the fact that that day might come is enough for us to keep this thought on the top of Gun Control decision criteria.

I will interject into this conversation, that I had a friend who was a young boy who grew up in Germany, in the early days of Hitler. He relayed the horrors which the German people suffered as Hitler took control of the once free Germany. He said one day the Gestapo came for their guns, and after they had collected the weapons, they came for the vehicles, then they came for the bikes, then the boats. Each trip was an act of intimidation, and in the end the German people preferred  to look away because they couldn’t do anything to stop the militarized Nazi Regime and at the same time they couldn’t even escape if they were to resist. The lives of the German people were at constant peril. Yes, these gun incidents are horrific and traumatizing, I don’t mean to minimize the terrible event of Newtown, but the horror of a dictatorial  American puts these isolated incidents in perspective.

In the knee-jerk fix of “we need gun control” we eliminate what would best prevent the bullied loners from going over the deep end – a more compassionate world where we consciously seek out those who are hurting and needing a friend. But that would require real work and caring wouldn’t it? We need to learn to take care of each other better. It would be worth it, a kinder and more compassionate world would be a reward in itself and a blessing to the givers and the receivers.

An update one week after my posting of this blog. Some of the States are moving toward the idea of arming their teachers. In Utah, 200 teachers learned to use a weapon, and to carry concealed in school. This is Dec 27, 2013. Good? Bad? We hopefully will never have to find out.

Postscript: One of the great things about writing blogs like this is that others read it and I find out that they too have an appreciation for the topic and add incredible thoughts to my own.  Such is the case in the link below: Another Year: the Fight Continues. I read his post and he like I loves the writings of Thomas Jefferson.  His post is worth a read.

Read more Jefferson quotes at


About pushinback

Back in 1993, I attended an anti-Nafta rally in Ottawa along with over 110,000 others. But despite the overwhelming opposition to NAFTA, the steamroller rolled on. It was there that I came to understand the one vital thing that I have been preaching ever since. There are so many issues, and so many fighting each issue, we are all spinning our wheels, and wasting our time, talents and energy, because each election, we give the politicians our power and so the deck is stacked against us. I said it that day and I say it with more fervency today. We all have one issue that we share, and we should all stop fighting for our own issues and losing anyways, and we should fight to achieve that one thing that we all share. We Canadians all have to fight to finally get a say between elections. We need to fight to make politicians accountable to us, the people. If there is no accountability, and the people have no say between elections, we have no Democracy. My Blog is written to teach the reader the essential knowledge of freedom and Democracy. Please read, and learn. I am one person, but I leave you my witness that one person is not powerless, only first you must first learn and then act. Let the democratic revolution begin. Kindest regards, Rob McQueen
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10 Responses to Thomas Jefferson’s Reasoning for “The Right to Bear Arms”

  1. Pingback: Flight of the U.S.A. – The Point of No Return « News You May Have Missed

  2. Jeannette says:

    I think that the Americans need to exercise their right to bear arms and keep the second ammendment to remain a free country. Why should all suffer for the abuse of 1? The 1 should suffer for his own sins not all!

  3. Pingback: Another Year: the Fight Continues « nebraskaenergyobserver

  4. Pingback: Another Year: the Fight Continues | Sago

  5. Craig says:

    It is true that the founders were concerned about the fate of their fledgling democracy. And it is also true that the 2nd Amendment was intended to help ensure the survival of the new republic. The founders incorporated the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights so that states could retain the power to arm citizens in a “well-regulated militia” to, in part, PUT DOWN any attempts to overthrow the government by the masses. And, it is also true that they incorporated the system of division of powers with checks and balances to make it more difficult for those holding office to consolidate and abuse their power. THIS was their answer to the abuse of power, not the so called right to bear arms. The fact of the matter is, the founders chose the republican form (representative, not direct democracy) because they were as much afraid of the whims of the masses as they were of tyranny by government.
    During the Confederation period, there was much unrest which compelled the members of the Confederation to send delegates to a convention to “fix” the Articles of Confederation. They were terrified of armed uprisings, such as Shay’s Rebellion which began just before and continued upon the meeting of the delegates. Shay’s rebellion hastened the meeting in the first place. After meeting in the convention, it was determined that, if they were to survive—government needed to be MORE powerful, in part, to be able to put DOWN armed rebellions and to keep law and order (to ensure domestic tranquility). It was then decided to scrap the Articles and create a new, stronger central government.
    Since this new (central) government would have military powers mainly outlined in Articles I and II, it was eventually decided that the states should retain and be guaranteed military powers “for the security of a free state.” Thus, the 2nd Amendment was created to guarantee that states could raise, from their own population, a militia. The state could arm this “well-regulated militia” and its purpose could be, in part, to put down armed insurrections the likes of Shay’s Rebellion, to keep law and order and to “ensure the domestic tranquility.” No system of government can survive if it is unable to put down rebellions and to keep law in order. Keeping law and order is the first order of government.
    After the Constitution was ratified, and Washington become president, the new government had to contend with the Whiskey Rebellion. Washington himself let troops to put it down. The founders did not want all they had fought for to fail because of armed insurrections and domestic uprisings. The LAST thing that wanted was for ordinary people to rise up and overthrow the government—not then, not ever. Not in THEIR new democratic republic. The U.S. Supreme Court did not recognize an individual right to bear arms until 2008 in the 5-4 Heller decision. For more than 200 years of the history of the U.S., the high court had held that the purpose of the 2nd Amendment was only related to the right of states of organize an armed militia and that there was no such thing as an individual person’s right to bear arms. Many historians and constitutional scholars and four members of the current Supreme Court still hold this view. The folklore that the founders wanted the people to be armed so that they could overthrow the government whenever they so fancied is preposterous.

  6. pushinback says:

    If Jefferson did not believe in the people having the rights to bare arms, for the purpose of the people having the capability to retake their freedom from a tyrant, then I don’t understand his comment ” The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
    I am interested in your response.

  7. J.D. Richardson says:

    The United States was not formed as a democracy, it was formed as a Republic. Two very different forms of government indeed. Rest easy and await the call o neighbors to the north, the call to arms will come, and it will be for all of us to throw off the chains of serfdom imposed on us by the globalists, and to re-affirm our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and lynch the 1% whom have attempted to hoard the wealth of the world, and keep us all in poverty. Peace be with you all. Until that dreadful day.

  8. Pingback: U.S. Citizens Prepare For Insurrection: Citizens Arming Themselves At Record Pace! | Political Vel Craft

  9. Isn’t it wonderful? The Constitution has no expiration date! Oh! And RE NAFTA? You DO remember that Clinton was IMPEACHED, yes? Guess what happened to that? #smh

    • pushinback says:

      You are totally right about reviews, just because it is a country, both large and difficult to manage, countries should have mandatory review periods, but I am on the side of the people both having input, and more, of the power of decision at the conclusion of such reviews. I disagree with these backroom conversations and decisions. Who gets to see what they discussed and where they are leading us during an accord?

      Can we trust anyone beyond how far we can throw them? Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. (Lord Acton of Britain)

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