"That the people have a Right to mass and to bear arms; that a well regulated militia composed of the Body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper natural and safe defense of a free State..."
by:
George Mason
(1725-1792), drafted the Virgina Declaration of Rights, ally of James Madison and George Washington
Source:
Within Mason's declaration of "the essential and unalienable Rights of the People," -- drafted by Thomas Jefferson, George Mason and others, and later adopted by the Virginia ratification convention, 1788
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Reader comments about this quote:
If we ever decide we want a dictator, just junk the second ammendent!
 -- cal, lewisville, tx     
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     -- Mike, Norwalk      
    Read carefully, read with discernment especillay those who think guns are to take on the cops, government or state. This quote from the earliest of framers and founders says explicitly that guns are for the protection and defense of the State. They are not for attacking the state. Now if one finds via their own research that the State is no longer a free state, (vote rigging, dictatorship etc) it would appear that attacking it may be morally okay but others who may not be of that view could certainly defend the State, thus Civil War would ensue. Again read with discernment guns are not for attacking a Free State but for defending it. (PS: Just because the state may not seem to you to be free because it passes laws (that is compellled compliance) of which you may run afoul does not mean that it is not a free state.)
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Just laws only prevent people from violating the negative rights of others, not compel people to act. This seems to be the very simple difference that some either cannot, or do not want to understand. When your individual rights are violated you have the right to defend yourself regardless of what title the perpetrator is wearing or what legislation he uses to back up his claim. You don't need a Constitution to tell you that.
     -- Bryan Morton, Stuart, FL     
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    Bryan makes the distinction Waffler seems bent on ignoring. The "defense of a free State" means the occasional use of arms in defense against a tyrannical state. Waffler would also be hard pressed to answer whether Mason was talking about his State of Virginia or the federal government. What part of 'defense' do you not understand, Waffler? Are we not permitted to defend ourselves against a rogue officer? If the purpose of a local militia is to keep our armed administrators in check, then not only can we 'take on the cops' when they have over stepped their bounds but we SHOULD defend ourselves. I am not talking about an armed rebellion, but if a State's lawful acts are ignored by the Federal government, then the citizens of that state will need to be able to defend themselves against a rogue dictator. The armed citizen is an absolute requirment for a free state, and a rogue government should be warned from time to time that the people will use their arms against unlawful acts of government officials. Our government should fear its people, not the other way around.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    And the risk of assumption I believe Mason was talking about the universal right of men to defend their free states, wherever existing from attacks upon it.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    An armed militia is in place to protect individual rights from "aggressors". No matter who they are. Waff, King George was once the state. If you were there you would have been one of the guys in Red eh?
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    The origin of the word State simply meant what it still means when any administration speaks of, for example, the state of the union address by the president. A free state is the present condition of a free people and to designate the incorporated State as free leaves the mistaken idea that the State of Colorado and its administration had rights and was free to do whatever a free individual could do. I'm sure Mason at the time he said this had no intent to mislead because in common knowledge everyone understood that a State represented the indivinduals within it and their rights and not any rights a State had to make it, free. Waff, The right to bear arms existed long before any militia of the second amendment came along. Individuals have rights, nothing else does and if the right doesn't absolutely belong to him then he has either given that power away to another or another has taken it away from him. If anybody says the right exists solely by the existance of some organization created by men is the same as saying that organization can take the right away. The 2nd Amendment was to ensure NO individual or organization of men created by men, whether it be the militia, the street gang, the shriners, the Brady Bunch or the government as a tool of the Brady Bunch or anybody, could take any rights away without a fight IF forced into one by failure of any one or organization to abide by natural law rights of the individual established and protected with our Constitution that limited the power of government so it could not violate those rights but only defend and protect them.
     -- Anon     
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    Nowhere in this quote does he mention individuals taking "defensive" action. nowhere does he mention individual rights. He is not talking about individual states. Mason uses the singular word State meaning a legitimately organized, elected government. All Mason is discussing here is that the "people" (that is the plural, i believe) have the right to mass and form an armed militia to defend their elected government. Colonists had no say in the British government and King George was rightly concerned about an armed insurrection. Masons statement was a response to that condition. Any interpretation that suggests that one individual has the "natural" right to take up arms against an individual or group of people who he/she decides is oppressing him/her is ridiculous. That is the definition of anarchy.
     -- W. Winder, Boston     
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