16 Memorable Quotes from Famous Americans on the Importance of Guns

Written By Jill Taylor

Influential figures throughout American history have made quotes that have stood the test of time. These 16 quotes from famous Americans about the importance of firearms honor the Second Amendment and influence the way people in the U.S. view guns.

“The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.” – Thomas Jefferson

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A Founding Father of the U.S. who served as the 3rd president was also the principal drafter of the Declaration of Independence. To Thomas Jefferson, freedom is what America was built upon, and this quote expresses the rights of Americans with an amendment put into place that will only be necessary when this freedom is threatened.

“An armed society is a polite society.” – Robert A. Heinlein

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One of the most popular arguments for widespread gun ownership is regularly attributed to Robert A. Heinlein. Psychology Today says it is actually a quote from his science fiction novel Beyond This Horizon, and while the quote is from a work of fiction, it is one of the most popular sayings for pro-gun movements.

“A free people ought to be armed.” – George Washington

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As an American Founding Father, George Washington was heavily in favor of firearms. The first president of the U.S. played an active role in the development of the U.S. Constitution. As a presiding officer while it was written, George Washington supported the Second Amendment.

“To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms.” – Richard Henry Lee

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Richard Henry Lee was an American statesman, most popularly known for his role as the former president of the Continental Congress. He was quoted in reference to the American Revolutionary War, but the end of the quote stating that people should be taught how to use guns is often forgotten.

“The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms.” – Samuel Adams

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The Second Amendment is designed to protect responsible civilians from giving up their firearms. Samuel Adams highlights this, implying that it will be the good guys who suffer as a result of gun control. As a Founding Father of the U.S., Samuel Adams was highly protective of each amendment.

“The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed.” – Alexander Hamilton

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When Alexander Hamilton made this quote, he was vouching for gun ownership as an element of personal safety. It also implies that the more armed citizens, the more the country can defend itself. He suggests that an armed society is essential for protecting against potential threats.

“Laws that forbid the carrying of arms disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes.” – Thomas Jefferson

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Thomas Jefferson implies that it would only be responsible gun owners who would suffer as a result of gun control. Criminals will always commit violence, regardless of stricter laws, so tightened legislation would only impact those who have no desire to use firearms to commit crime anyway.

“A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained in arms, is the best most natural defense of a free country.” – James Madison

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According to the National Constitution Center, the Second Amendment discusses a well-regulated militia as ‘necessary to the security of a Free State.’ However, a lot of people overlook this part of the Second Amendment, just focusing on the people’s right to bear arms.

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

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John Adams highlighted the importance of citizen gun ownership for self-defense. Whether defending the country or private matters, he stated that arms should be in the hands of citizens, and as a Founding Father, Adams’s priority was the protection of Americans.

“Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the people’s liberty’s teeth.” – George Washington

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The U.S. Constitution was built to protect the freedom of Americans, and firearms can support this protection. With this quote, Washington implies that firearms are the primary weapon of defense for America, and this quote has been considered a statement of U.S. freedom, liberty, and patriotism.

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin

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There is constant debate about the rights of gun ownership and whether gun control should be implemented for safety. Benjamin Franklin argued that the little safety you would receive through gun control sacrifices the freedom that the country is built upon. This quote is so important that the Hoover Institution states a version of it is inscribed into the Statue of Liberty.

“No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.” – Thomas Jefferson

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When putting together the Bill of Rights, it was clear that the Founding Fathers wanted to protect the rights of Americans from internal forces just as much as external threats. Worried about oppression from within, the Bill of Rights and Constitution sought to extend these rights to all citizens.

“I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.” – George Mason

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Although many regarded the militia as armed forces, the Second Amendment discusses the ‘right of the people’ and a ‘well regulated militia’ as one and the same. To protect America, there would be no distinction between average citizens and military veterans; everyone has a role in defending the country.

“The right of citizens to bear arms is just one more guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against tyranny.” – Hubert H. Humphrey

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Humphrey confirms that the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution were designed for Americans to protect them against internal threats. The former vice president was quoted as supporting the Second Amendment almost two centuries after it was included in the Constitution.

“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.” – Thomas Jefferson

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Jefferson understood that to preserve the freedom and safeguard the individual liberty of Americans, the Second Amendment needed to be included to protect the country from its own government. As one of the most influential figures in American history, he reflected on the importance of firearms for protection against tyranny.

“Civilian ownership of firearms is not only a constitutional right, but also a fundamental aspect of the American identity, rooted in our history, culture, and tradition.” – Ronald Reagan

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The former U.S. president outlined that the importance of firearms in America was much more than a constitutional right. Guns are a huge part of American culture, and the Second Amendment Foundation states that Reagan signed the Firearm Owners Protection Act during his time in office.

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