Argument: Many US Constitution framers emphasized only a collective, militia-based right to bear arms

Issue Report: Right to bear arms in the US

Supporting quotes

  • James Madison – “A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country.”[1]
  • The Federalists believed that federal government must be trusted with the power to control the militi, and that they “ought certainly to be under the regulation and at the disposal” of federal government. This belief was fundamentally stated by Alexander Hamilton in Federalist #29:
“The power of regulating the militia, and of commanding its services in times of insurrection and invasion are natural incidents to the duties of superintending the common defense, and of watching over the internal peace of the Confederacy.”
  • John Adams – “To suppose arms in the hands of citizens, to be used at individual discretion, except in private self-defense, or by partial orders of towns, countries or districts of a state, is to demolish every constitution, and lay the laws prostrate, so that liberty can be enjoyed by no man; it is a dissolution of the government. The fundamental law of the militia is, that it be created, directed and commanded by the laws, and ever for the support of the laws.” –John Adams, A Defence of the Constitutions of the United States 3:475 (1787-1788)