Guns and False Quotes

“False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils, except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes….Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.” (Thomas Jefferson)

This was not a quote by Jefferson as many on the net have asserted.  He  compiled a book of quotes called, “Legal Commonplace Book.”  The quote is actually from Cesare Beccaria’s Essay on Crimes and Punishments.  The only notation made by Jefferson on Beccaria’s quote is, “False idee di utilità.” or …false idea of utility.  It should not be attributed to Thomas Jefferson unless one’s philosophy allows for the sophistry of ‘false ideas’.

See this reference:

Also, this was not in the Constitution as some have maintained…”that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed”.  It is in a personal letter…  

To Major John Cartwrigt Monticello, June 5, 1824

Here is a fuller context to the quote…

“The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of the press.”

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