Thursday, May 30, 2013

"Every man has a right to possess military arms, of every sort and kind"

   "The principle of self defence is founded in the very nature and constitution of man. It is inherent in, and inseparable from his character. It it not derived from books, nor from the institutions of civil society, though confirmed by them, It is born and created with us, is coexistent with the first germ of life, conceived, felt, and apparent in the earliest dawn of being, and continues the same through all stages, relations, and conditions of human existence. Without this right, and without its exercise, whenever the occasion arises, man could perform no duties, and enjoy no rights. He could not discharge even those duties imposed on him by a state of nature, neither could he fulfill those superadded obligations, created by, and incurred in a state of society. If this be true, and that it is, is so self evident, that none can or will deny it, the consequence indisputably follows, that man has not only a right, but is in duty bound, a duty, which he owes to himself, to society, and to his Maker, to defend and protect his own life, by all the means in his power, at every hazard and expense to him who shall assault it, and, however disastrous the consequences may be, the same are imputable not to the man assailed, but to him who imposed the necessity...." [Pg. 39-40]

"...When I shall read some of the authorities, which contain law of our own country, you will be convinced, that I have advanced no one principle, which they do not warrant; neither do wish, gentlemen, to extend them beyond their fair import, in behalf of the cause I defend. At present, my only purpose is, propositions so plain, as must command the assent of every human understanding, to efface any erroneous impressions, may have been made in relation to the law on this subject.

   "There is another important charge and prejudice, against my client which I wish, and trust to remove. It is founded on this fact, viz. that he had in his pocket a pistol, with which he preserved his life, against a man, who would have beaten cut his brains with a club--an instrument as effectual, for the purpose of producing death, as a pistol, and, in some views, even more so: for the pistol once discharged of its ball becomes useless, and unless some vital be struck, the advantage is altogether in favour of him holding club. A misplaced blow with a cane, may be corrected, until, with increased skill, and redoubled vigour, the assailant bring victim dying, and dead at his feet. I, however, wish to bring be before you, the single circumstance of wearing a pistol, from any relation to the particular case of the Defendant, or the reason, which had the law been, as is pretended, might and have justified him, in wearing an instrument of this sort. There is no law written or unwritten, no part of the statute or common law of our country, which denies to a man the right of possessing or wearing any kind of arms. In every free society a man is free to do that, which the law does not interdict, nor can the doing that, which is not forbidden be imputed as a crime. But it may be again said, as it has been already, that possessing a pistol is evidence of malice. If it be lawful to possess and wear such an instrument, it would be unjust, in the highest degree, to make it, unconnected with any thing else, evidence to change another act, lawful in itself, into an act criminal and unlawful. For instance, it ought not, and I trust would not, in the opinion of any court or jury, change a justifiable homicide into manslaughter, or manslaughter into murder.

   "I will attempt to illustrate this, by putting one or two cases.--Every man has a right to possess military arms, of every sort and kind, and to furnish his rooms with them. Suppose a man, occupying a house thus furnished, is visited by a neighbour, and after some warm conversation an affray ensues, the owner glances his eye on a sword, instantly snatches it from its place, and destroys his neighbour--But for such possessing the instrument of death, the act would, I presume be manslaughter. Can such possession be so tinctured with criminality, as to aggravate this act, otherwise only manslaughter, to the crime of murder!--If so, do but change the parties: Suppose the visitor to cast his eye on the sword, and Under like circumstances, to use the same instrument, to the destraction of his opponent, he would be guilty of manslaughter.-- Can the mere circumstance of not being owner of the instrument used, alter the act from murder to manslaughter?

   "Further, a man, about to travel on a road, infested with robbers, and knowing it to be lawful to kill another, who attempts to rob him, arms himself with a pistol--on the road, he is attacked by one, who attempts to rob him, and, in the exercise of his rights, uses his pistol and destroys the life of the aggressor. If the having a pistol with him be an argument against his innocence, an act, lawful in itself, will be deemed unlawful, merely because the agent had the precaution to supply himself with the means of doing that, which the law authorised him to do.--Again, suppose a man, having occasion to travel a road, infested by robbers, provides himself with a pistol for the purpose of defending his person and property: on the way to the road, on the road, or on his return from the road, he is met by one, who attacks him, without any intention of robbing, but with a view of assaulting his person only, and the attack is made with so much violence, as to put his life in imminent hazard, whereupon he uses the pistol and destroys the assailant.--Shall you draw from the fact, of his having a pistol, for the just and lawful purpose of defence, against one sort of violence, and using it to another, equally just and lawful, an argument to turn a justifiable homicide into the crime of murder? Surely a doctrine, which leads to such absurd consequences, cannot be founded in truth and justice, and it is on these principles, that this cause must be decided."--Mr. Christopher Gore, Attorney for the Defense, TRIAL OF T.O. SELFRIDGE, ESQ. Aug., 1806. [TRIAL Of THOMAS O. SELFRIDGE, COUNSELLOR AT LAW, BEFORE THE HON. ISAAC PARKER, ESQUIRE. FOR KILLING CHARLES AUSTIN, ON THE PUBLIC EXCHANGE, IN BOSTON, AUGUST 4th, 1806. TAKEN IN SHORT HAND BY T. LLOYD, ESQ. REPORTER OF THE DEBATES OF CONGRESS, AND GEO. CAINES, ESQ. LATE REPORTER TO THE STATE OF NEW-YORK. AND SANCTIONED BY THE COURT, AND REPORTER TO THE STATE. SECOND EDITION. PUBLISHED BY RUSSELL AND CUTLER, BELCHER AND ARMSTRONG, AND OLIVER AND MUNROE. SOLD BY THEM, BY W.M BLAGROVE, NO. 5, SCHOOL-STREET, AND BY THE PRINCIPAL BOOKSELLERS THROUGHOUT THE UNION. Pgs. 41-42]   (Christopher Gore, (September 21, 1758 – March 1, 1827), was a prominent Massachusetts lawyer, Federalist, and U.S. diplomat. He had a successful law practice in Boston, and entered politics in 1788. Serving briefly in the Massachusetts legislature before being appointed U.S. District Attorney for Massachusetts. He was then appointed by President George Washington to a diplomatic commission dealing with maritime claims in Great Britain. He returned to Massachusetts in 1804, and reentered state politics becoming Massachusetts Governor in 1809. He was then appointed to the U.S. Senate by Governor Caleb Strong in 1813.

Did I understand Mr. Gore correctly? EVERY MAN HAS A RIGHT TO POSSESS MILITARY ARMS, of EVERY SORT and KIND? Gore? Now where have I heard THAT name before? .....

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