Analysis of Founding Father Quotes on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms

Last Updated on November 11, 2021 by Shaun Snapp

Executive Summary

  • There are essential quotes on what the founding fathers thought about the right to keep and bear arms.
  • We analyze some of these quotes.


The 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution is tremendously contentious in the US. It is helpful to see what the founding fathers said about the right to keep and bear arms.

Our References

See our references for this article and related articles at this link.

Thomas Jefferson

“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” – Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Constitution, Draft 1, 1776

This is curious because he is highly specific here. The right to use arms can never be debarred. However, notice the term “free man.” So Jefferson was excluding slaves.

“I prefer dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery.” – Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, January 30, 1787

This type of sentiment is prevalent for the time. The US has changed dramatically from this time with the reaction to the scare tactics around the covid pandemic and 9/11, illustrating how the sentiment has turned towards safety, peaceful slavery, and compliance over liberty.

George Washington

“A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined…” – George Washington, First Annual Address, to both House of Congress, January 8, 1790

Washington was a lifelong military man before being elected president in 1789. Therefore this statement was made while in office. However, while in the present day the populace is armed, they are not disciplined in that they are not organized, nor do they participate in militias.

This quote regarding George Washington’s election was too interesting not to include.

In 1789, the first presidential election, George Washington was unanimously elected president of the United States. With 69 electoral votes, Washington won the support of each participating elector. No other president since has come into office with a universal mandate to lead.

He was both a national hero and the favorite son of Virginia, the largest state at the time. Washington ascended to the presidency with practical experience, having served as the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolution and president of the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. – Mount Vernon

Benjamin Franklin

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

This is curious as Franklin may have had the highest intelligence level of all of the founding fathers. He certainly had the most innovations/inventions to his name and was undoubtedly a genius. He was also one of the least military-minded of the founding fathers being more of a scientist and diplomat. Franklin is not explicitly referring to the right to keep and bear arms in his quote, but it is simple to ascertain what this quote encompasses.

Noah Webster

“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every country in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops.”
– Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, October 10, 1787

Not a founding father, and developer of the Webster dictionary, however, Webster’s view here was shared by most of the founding fathers.

James Madison

“Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of.” – James Madison, Federalist No. 46, January 29, 1788

This quote is of particular import as Thomas Jefferson directed madison to craft the Bill of Rights. Observe how Madison sees the independence of the US citizenry as a significant advantage over European countries.

Observe how the establishment Democratic media has changed the picture of gun owners. Gun owners (but only white gun owners) are routinely presented as hillbillies, backward, and violent.