Friday, May 10, 2013

"the constitutional right of every American citizen to bear arms if he chooses"

"I will not go to the gentleman's State, or to any other gentleman's State, to find laws that I do not approve. We have plenty of them in my own State. And the gentleman ought to feel highly blessed if he has none in Indiana that he disapproves. We have a great many in Georgia I do not approve. There is one in particular which I fought in the legislature and opposed before the courts with all the power that I had. It was a law making it penal to bear concealed deadly weapons. I am individually opposed to bearing such weapons. I never bear weapons of any sort; but I believed that it was the constitutional right of every American citizen to bear arms if he chooses, and just such arms, and in just such way, as he chooses. I thought that it was the birthright of every Georgian to do it. I was defeated in our legislature. I was defeated before our courts. The question went up to the highest judicial tribunal in our State, the Supreme Court*, which sustained the law." [*Nunn v. State, 1 Ga. (1 Kel.) 243 (1846).]

- Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, June 28, 1856, U.S. House of Representatives. (Mr. Stephens served as a U.S. Representative from Georgia, (before and after the Civil War). He was also Vice President of the Confederate States of America, and the 50th Governor of Georgia from 1882 until his death in 1883).

And here is the Georgia Supreme Court decision to which Mr. Stephans referred:

""The right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed." The right of the whole people, old and young, men, women and boys, and not militia only, to keep and bear arms of every description, not such merely as are used by the militia, shall not be infringed, curtailed, or broken in upon, in the smallest degree; and all this for the important end to be attained: the rearing up and qualifying a well-regulated militia, so vitally necessary to the security of a free State. Our opinion is, that any law, State or Federal, is repugnant to the Constitution, and void, which contravenes this right, originally belonging to our forefathers, trampled under foot by Charles I. and his two wicked sons and successors, reestablished by the revolution of 1688, conveyed to this land of liberty by the colonists, and finally incorporated conspicuously in our own Magna Charta! And Lexington, Concord, Camden, River Raisin, Sandusky, and the laurel-crowned field of New Orleans, plead eloquently for this interpretation!"--Chief Justice Collier, Nunn v. State, 1 Ga.(1 Kel.) 243 (1846).

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