"No kingdom can be secured otherwise than by arming the people. The possession of arms is the distinction between a freeman and a slave. He, who has nothing, and who himself belongs to another, must be defended by him, whose property he is, and needs no arms. But he, who thinks he is his own master, and has what he can call his own, ought to have arms to defend himself, and what he possesses; else he lives precariously, and at discretion."
by:
James Burgh
(1714-1775) was an English Whig politician
Source:
"Political Disquisitions: Or, an Enquiry into Public Errors, Defects, and Abuses" (London, 1774-1775)
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Reader comments about this quote:
Very accurate, self explanatory, and timeless.
 -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    A healthy attitude towards arms is a good thing, unfortunately some on both sides of the private arms issue are sick.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    This quote should be read daily to the "Brady Bunch". Waffler, please describe a "healthy attitude"and tell me who on the side of the 2nd amendment are "sick". Your comment is essentially meaningless, as usual.
     -- jim k, austin     
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    There's a big difference between an Uzi and pitch forks.
     -- RobertSRQ     
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    don't worry Waffler you are not the sick one...
     -- RobertSRQ     
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    "The possession of arms is the distinction between a freeman and a slave." Simple enough. Either you have the right or you don't. Either you exercise it or you don't have it. The point is not the guns, it is someone else telling you that you may not have more power than your bare hands while the government (who are simply other people) does. The trend is towards more and more militarization of domestic security forces and the disarmament of citizens. SWAT teams are used by tax collectors, child services, and at public demonstrations. The principle is wrong, and leads ultimately to the idea that any and all rights are subject to arbitrary rule. This is the road to all totalitarian governments -- it is not a trail we should follow.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    The distinction between a freeman and a slave is arms - give me a break - tell that to MLK. How absurd can you be. Power is not in bare hands or down the end of a barrel. Archer, I couldn't agree with you more, your reasoning is sound and I believe echoed by most on this blog - we just have a difference of opinion on how to deal with it - and that is true weaponry.
     -- RobertSRQ     
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     -- T Williams, Vidor, TX      
    By the arguments of this quote we should all own our own thermo nuclear and biological weapons, and by failing to do so we are all slaves... believe it or not, the most powerful weapon in the world is the human brain... proper use of it eliminates the need for individuals to own pop-guns ment for nothing more than killing other individuals.
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
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    Jim I really appreciate your interest in my opinion especially since you think they are usually meaningless. RobertSRQ and Anonymous from Reston are on the right track. An unhealthy attitude towards guns is that of the city dweller who thinks killing deer is some type of crime and that those who do it are animals. On the gun lovers side it is those who believe guns are to protect yourself from law enforcement. Have you never heard of Ruby Ridge? Is y'alls logic about taking on the government any different to that guy (now deceased) who blew up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City? I think not and that is what I mean by sick. Many I know gave up their memberships in the NRA after life times of membership because the NRA is sick. There are good organizations like The North American Hunting Club, Ducks's Unlimited that promote hunting and gunning with a healthy attitude. Any thought that guns are to attack our government is sick. Robert is correct, we have a government by discussion (democracy), words are more powerful than the sword. Some on here speak of natural law or natural rights, when folks speak up for the truth like MLK did or Ghandi did they get results because they have truth and conviction, no guns are necessary. Jim I have six hand guns, and a deer slug rifle. I play with a little bit of hunting but I am not accomplished. The mentally healthy hnuters I know never talk about taking on the government or that they should be allowed to have nukes. The guy from Reston is right about this. Ideologues like Archer are destroying this country.
     -- Waffler, Smith, Arkansas     
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    You mean you guys don't have nukes? Bunch of lightweights. The thing about MLK and Ghandi is that their slave masters weren't willing to kill them. That is the only reason their non-violent tactics succeeded. If you happen to have a slave master like Stalin, Mao, or lately Mugabe, then a gun would surely come in handy don't you think? I'm sure the Tutsis in Rwanda would have thought a gun would have been a very useful tool when the Hutus were hacky them apart with machetes. If you think something like that can never happen here in this more civilized part of the world, just remember, people are very alike the world over. Our civilization is just a thin, fragile veneer that covers our natural savagery and given enough stress on society, the sharp, pointy objects come out. I intend to have the sharpest.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    Isn't it weird that Obama and Lugar are trying to lock down loose nukes and some of these guys want us to have an individual right to them You are right Ken we must be ever vigilant to keep our society on the right track. Ethnicity is handled here better than in many places and now with a rock star like Obama the world sees our magnanamous nature on this issue. I assume you don't believe in the jargon of "America last hope of mankind".
     -- Anonymous     
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    Gun ownership is our last line of defense against criminals, and aggressors foreign and domestic. That includes tyrants of all stripes. Disarmament is a prelude (usually) to genocide and registration is a tool of confiscation. Gun control isn't about guns at all...its about control.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    It is about PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY which a large part of the population seems to have a problem understanding/maintaining. Laws are already in place and are not followed, enforced etc. etc.... I see more laws signed off and more laws will be broken by the very people that do not take responsibility for themselves now. Take away the means to defend yourself and it IS a proven fact that the current laws can/will not be enforced, a law abiding citizen is a sitting duck!
     -- DJ, USA     
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    Waffler are you nuts, and that's a rhetorical question. Your diatribe above is so full of nonsense that it would take a ream of paper to reply. Where on earth did you get the notion that guns are to "attack" our government. I rest my case as to your sanity.
     -- jim k, Austin, Tx     
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    The English never ratified a constitution, and our idiocrats think one written by slavers and ratified 223 years ago serves!

    NOOOOOO! Got Windows 2000? It's JUNK. Come on, MAN. We need a new operating system, OK?

    And what part of a dead Iglis has noticed the Brits tried to warn us about bin Laden and Al Qaida's imminent 911 attacks, with French, Mossad, Bill Clinton, CIA, and tons of little people, including a moderate Taliban Chief, but GW Bush took the August 6, 2001 CIA memo and ran off, to end up, with Jeb, in Florida?

    The Brits also tried to warn us, when the IJN was in the water, on the way, to Pearl, where FDR had moved the Pacific Fleet, and the Navy had its own decoded messages, never mind IJN 25, the USS Ward shot a sub, never mind the radar, BUT PEARL DIDN'T ALERT, the Philippines fell, and everybody got shot up, including Niseis, who suffered General Order 9066 and interrment, WITH LOSS OF THEIR PROPERTY.

    The cure for THIS misconduct is a NEW CONSTITUTION, never mind tipping your rogering hat, since the Brits don't have a constitution, and Americans are too DDD, to notice ours is junk, written by slavers, maintained by activist courts and bureaucrats, who are virtual slavers.

    If you think we get more guns at the riot, just because no competent court noticed a riot, YET, you have another guess, coming. Can you SMELLLLLL, what Barack is cooking?
     -- Bob, Mountain View     
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    Why do gun nuts scurry back to a previous century to justify their hobby and the murderous results which follow. And Burgh would be appalled at the 'guns' now in circulation... he was writing in the mid 1700's
     -- garrry, glasgow     
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    Wow...a couple of sane people who understand reality and human nature and nature's law. And a few more who are absolutely hysterical. What Burgh was describing was the ability to defend yourself...not a particular type of gun GARRY you English Subject = Idiot! How could anyone expect YOU to understand what it takes to create and preserve "Liberty"...you haven't got a clue what that is, what with being an English Sheep dog and all...Stay in your crime ridden socialist poverty stricken country and stop giving advice...that obviously doesn't work.
    Go 2nd Amendment!
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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