"Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. This is not to say that firearms should not be very carefully used and that definite safety rules of precaution should not be taught and enforced. But the right of citizens to bear arms is just one more guarantee against arbitrary government, and one more safeguard against tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible."
Hubert H. Humphrey
(1911-1978) US Vice-President, US Senator (D-MN)
"Know Your Lawmakers," Guns magazine, February 1960, p.6
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Reader comments about this quote:
If only all liberals were this enlightened!
 -- Bob, Eugene Oregon     
  • 1
    "... against the tyranny which now appears remote in America" - that was in the 1970s. The tyranny is here and it will take more than mere arms to reverse it. It will take a level of personal engagement that's clearly beyond the American population's capacities at THIS time. We are hamstrung by ignorance, apathy and an insatiable appetite for distraction and amusement to make up for an aversion to constructive action. - Imagine, me, a 'flaming liberal' - not entirely maybe - LOL
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
    Ah, I'm finally getting it... the so called "law & order" party (the GOP) want the people to have their glocks & machine guns such that they can overthrow the oppressive, put the people down party (the GOP) by force (or are we just back to "kill kill kill"?)... and you call this enlightened compared to empowerment of the people by education and through non-violent means... duh! I should have seen the clarity of this long ago.
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
    Anonymous in Reston Uber Alles! Or maybe not.
     -- David L. Rosenthal , Hollywood     
    Tyranny is in America ... our elected leaders. Term limits, please.
     -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
    Anon in Reston HAD to give at least one star to this, the quote comes from a democrat. Party line people are easy to detect - except sometimes they surprise you - you occasionally find an occasional die-hard Democrat voting for the Socialist Party and the same kind of Republican voting for the Fascist party... It's all pretty much the same anymore. = )
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
    I am always amazed at the incredible twists that some people can make in their thinking...its got to be the water in VA/CA...this is the mental equivalent of AIDS--it leaves the mental capacities defensless against even the most absurd...to the point of suicide. They don't even understand the value of protecting themselves and their children--talk about a self esteem/image problem.
     -- Michael , Houston     
    It has always been the final smug statement of the gun lobby that they are there as a last resort to protect American liberty from a tyrannous government that would take it away. Well? What are you waiting for? Where are all the millions or armed citizens marching on Washington and demanding this tyrannous government resign? Turns out you right wingers just love guns and power and have no love of liberty whatsoever. You are willing to trade your liberty for a little imagined security - and as Franklin said - you deserve neither.
     -- Simon, Victoria, BC, Canada     
    Canada has its share of gun-lovers, too. Even Switzerland trains every male citizen in automatic weapons and takes them home for safe-keeping. Let's get real for a moment -- the purpose of my being armed is to take responsibility for my share of the defence of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for myself, my family and my fellow man. There ain't no way an armed populace can fight the US Air Force, so all this talk about the common man taking over the government by force is a bunch of hooey. It is about individual responsibilty -- it is about the difference between expecting to take care of myself and expecting someone else to take care of me. It is bad enough that most of us do not know how to provide for ourselves any more, do we have to disarm the last folks who want to take responsibility for themselves? Armed Americans are not the problem -- imperialistic policies are. However, America's hypocrisy seems to have no bounds.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    What does owning a gun have to do with "individual responsibilty -- the difference between expecting to take care of myself and expecting someone else to take care of me"?? And when was the last time you used your gun to "take responsibility for my share of the defence of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for myself, my family and my fellow man"??? (Not to mention that this last phrase only confirms my premise that right wing gun owners believe they are there a last defence against tyranny etc.) It is 10 times more likely that your gun will be stolen from you and used in a crime or used to injure or kill you or your family than that you will ever use it in self defense! Ask any police officer. So all you are left with is a dangerous weapon and alot of empty slogans.
     -- Simon, Victoria, BC, Canada     
     -- Anonymous, Raleigh, NC      
    A Gun Magazine - OK E that's a good source. Well done Reston and Simon - it does prove one thing, people who like guns and the GOP have a lot of time to spare. Are they blind to the fact it is them who need to change the water - enough of all this name slogging; the fact remains while we have guns we will NEVER attain the spiritual existence require to promote peace in the world - it shall always be revenge and that never solves anything but makes matters worse. Though we have made a start in the process of banning guns; we don't allow guns into court rooms, on aircraft, at schools and most work places. The need to carry a gun is because everyone else does, duh. Gandhi won over his country without guns and so can we but we are afraid to let go of our blanket...
     -- Robert, Sarasota     
    So, we get rid of all our guns - what then? Nirvana, utopia, heaven, paradise, peace? From getting rid of a gun?! Really?! I will gain spirituality by ridding the world of guns?! No Way!! I just.. I don't know what to say, I'm shocked!! Gandhi established peace by getting rid of guns?! Wow! Boy, did I get my facts and stories all mixed up! And here I thought that Gandhi was about self-expresion of inward peace and brotherhood without violence - shoot, I've been on the wrong side of this issue all along - who knew that the evil of society rested in such an inanimate object?! Gee, I wonder if the same evil is found in owning a knife, bow-and-arrow, or a pair of nun chucks? **GASP** I think we should ban all of these too!! Because they, by definition, are also used in killing!! But, then, if we do that, we should get rid of all the sticks and clubs in the world - because, isn't that the archaic weapon of choice? Yeah, in fact, I think Gahndi was against sticks too... Wow, am I glad I'm on the right side now!
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
    Simon: "And when was the last time you used your gun to "take responsibility for my share of the defence" - Well, the last time I used a gun in the service of that aim was when I apprehended a burglar exiting my house. BTW, it was a police officer who recommended I get a (my first) gun almost 30 years ago after the first time I had a break-in in another city. I personally don't make a big deal out of the issue of my having guns. I am in favor of not disarming law abiding citizens against their will. I'm also not a big fan of the idea of having guns for 'fun' necessarily but, after having had the misfortune to have been put in a position to have to make use of one, it no longer strikes me as 'not a good idea' to have one (or more, depending on a person's circumstances). The responsibility attending the ownership of weapons is, naturally, commensurate with their potential to do harm as it is with any object - even something like a car. At the end of the day, whether we like it or not, we're still in the position of NOT being able to pick and choose WHICH parts of our Constitution we are bound to abide by. I do also agree with the idea that there are certain 'public' spaces in which guns should be prohibited. I would love to live in a society in which weapons could be dispensed with entirely. We're a long way from that though and I wonder if I'd really like what it would take to confect such a Brave New World - a National Socialist Party perhaps?
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
    For SHAME! who would chuck a nun?
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
    Gun Haters - when they find that they don't have anything to fight off oppression with - they'll reach for anything to lob at the enemy. = )
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
    Not bad for a Democrat, or Republicrat in general, then again it is Minn., not a greatly predictable political crowd, even the DNC affiliate is the Democratic Farmer's Party. Hmmm, you suppose the La Rouche guys will have a strong competitor against Franken for his thuggery at a Democrat Meeting in 2004?
     -- Gölök Zoltán Leenderdt Franco Buday, Vancouver, GVRD(Paine Cnty), Coastal Lwr Mainland BC(State of Neo Sumer), U.S. of Eh!     
    HHH would be run from his party today for this kind of thing! It's ironic that the stadium that bears his name won't allow CC permit holders to carry in it. HHH and I wouldn't have agreed on alot of things, but we could have shared some lefse on this one!
     -- Helberg, Minnesota     
    Simon, Your stats are defective. 30% of all stolen weapons come from law enforcement officers getting ripped off. Firearms have never made the "top 20" list of dangerous items although the rotary push mower has been #1 every year.
     -- Al, Fayetteville     
    Visited this site because I've been unsuccessful in locating an actual copy of the Guns magazine issue containing this quote. Tried the Library of Congress in DC last summer without success. Can you tell me where an issue is? Was this quote said in a public speech or directly to a Guns reporter or written somewhere by HHH? It sound so unlike him that I'm afraid I'll have to find out the details before I'm willing to believe it. I'm impressed with the good quality of the quotes books listed on your home page. Less impressed with the quality of the hyperbolic postings on this page. Quite a few nervous, frightened individuals.
     -- Liberal Democrat, Duluth     
     -- Anonymous      
     -- Jan, Cairo NY      
    To Liberal Democrat, Duluth.
    You will find the Humphrey quotation in Guns, September 1960, Page 4.
     -- Sophocles, Indianapolis     
    Simon in Victoria.....do you realize that Canadians are statistically better armed than Americans? Do you realize that canadians also have a right to keep and bear arms written into the British North America Act? Do you realize that all of your liberal arguments have no basis in logic or reality?
    What color is the sky on your fairytale planet anyway? No Guns = No Rights. None.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     

         “An arbitrary law is one made by the legislator simply because he wills it, and is not founded in the nature of things;” (Bouvier’s Law Dictionary) Legal Positivism, as an applied ideology, is an arbitrary law administration “used in opposition to natural law” (Bouvier’s Law Dictionary) - (law of nature and morality) “The term arbitrary describes a course of action or a decision that is not based on reason or judgement but on personal will or discretion ⋯. 

         In many instances, the term implies an element of bad faith, and it may be used synonymously with tyrannical or despotic.” (West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2)

         As accurate as Humphrey’s first sentence was, he veered off into the never, never land weeds of legal positivism’s arbitrary tyranny and despotism - “definite safety rules of precaution should be ⋯ enforced.”

     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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