Famous Pro-Gun “Quotes” the Founding Fathers Never Actually Said

Gun and colonial flag

There are many false quotes floating around the internet often attributed to the Founding Fathers. Here are a few specifically related to the Second Amendment:

1. “The people will not understand the importance of the Second Amendment until it is too late.”


2. “When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”

FALSELY ATTRIBUTED TO: Thomas Jefferson, or Thomas Paine, or Samuel Adams.

3. “Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty, teeth and keystone under independence. The church, the plow, the prairie wagon and the citizen’s firearms are indelibly related.”


4. “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.”


5. “The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned.”


6. “Arms in the hands of the citizens may be used at individual discretion for the defense of the country, the overthrow of tyranny or private self defense.”


gun on American Flag

7. “The best we can help for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed.”

FALSELY ATTRIBUTED TO: Alexander Hamilton.

8. “Those who hammer their guns into plowshares will plow for those who do not.”


9. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

FALSELY ATTRIBUTED TO: Jefferson or Patrick Henry

Here are some actual quotes from our founding fathers related to the Second Amendment:

Gun and Constitution

And that the said Constitution be never construed to authorize Congress to infringe the just liberty of the press, or the rights of conscience; or to prevent the people of the United States, who are peaceable citizens, from keeping their own arms; or to raise standing armies, unless necessary for the defense of the United States, or of some one or more of them; or to prevent the people from petitioning, in a peaceable and orderly manner, the federal legislature, for a redress of grievances; or to subject the people to unreasonable searches and seizures of their persons, papers or possessions.

Samuel Adams, Debates of the Massachusetts Convention of 1788

A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies.

George Washington, First Annual Address, to both House of Congress (8 January 1790)

To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them…

Richard Henry Lee, Additional Letters From The Federal Farmer, 53 (1788)

Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom 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 that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive.

Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, (1787)



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