The constitution of the nation is ordained to “provide for the common defence.” In order to make “provision” for that defence, congress have the power to “provide for arming the militia,” and “for calling them forth,” “to repel invasions:” they have power “to provide a navy,” “to raise and support armies,” “to declare war.” Whenever the primary object, “the common defence,” renders it necessary, the power becomes the duty of congress: and it requires no formal deduction of logick to point to the duty, when necessity shall require, of military bodies, “raised, supported, and armed.” In Pennsylvania, it is explicitly declared upon the very point, that “the freemen of this commonwealth shall be armed for its defence.”
2. Homicide is enjoined, when it is necessary for the defence of one’s person or house.
With regard to the first, it is the great natural law of self preservation, which, as we have seen, cannot be repealed, or superseded, or suspended by any human institution. This law, however, is expressly recognised in the constitution of Pennsylvania. “The right of the citizens to bear arms in the defence of themselves shall not be questioned.” This is one of our many renewals of the Saxon regulations. “They were bound,” says Mr. Selden, “to keep arms for the preservation of the kingdom, and of their own persons.”
With regard to the second; every man’s house is deemed, by the law, to be his castle; and the law, while it invests him with the power, enjoins on him the duty, of the commanding officer. “Every man’s house is his castle,” says my Lord Coke, in one of his reports, “and he ought to keep and defend it at his peril; and if any one be robbed in it, it shall be esteemed his own default and negligence.”z For this reason, one may assemble people together in order to protect and defend his house."
- James Wilson, Lectures on Law, delivered in the College of Philadelphia, In the years 1790, And 1791. Collected works of James Wilson Vol. 2, [Edited by Kermit L. Hall and Mark David Hall with an Introduction by Kermit L. Hall and a Bibliographical Essay by Mark David Hall Collected by Maynard Garrison. Published by Liberty Fund, Inc.] (Signed the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution, Congressman, Delegate to the Constitutional Convention and U.S. Supreme Court Justice).